AMME Seminar 28.10.21: 'Future Visions of the Ancient World'

Please join us for the next Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) lecture series, which will contain two papers and a shared discussion on the theme of ‘future visions of the ancient world’.

The speakers of this online seminar are:

Prof. Dr. Gina Konstantopoulos
The Power of Words: Ancient Texts and Future (Re)Interpretations

We see a number of instances where Mesopotamia has captured popular public attention: one particularly famous spike of public interest is seen with the first excavations of the mid-nineteenth century, whose finds captured the Victorian imagination. Although this early attention fixated upon either Biblical links or archaeological finds, Mesopotamia's presence in popular culture during the latter half of the twentieth century was increasingly connected to texts and language, particularly Sumerian. Furthermore, the reception in more modern popular culture shifted to look forward, inventing past histories as well as new science-fiction futures. This paper considers the modern reception of Mesopotamia, focusing in particular on its appearance in science fiction, as exemplified by the use of Sumerian in Neal Stephenson's 1992 cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, perhaps the most in-depth appearance of the language in modern science fiction. Snow Crash draws strongly on Mesopotamian mythology, and features Sumerian as essentially the fundamental programming language for humanity as whole. This paper analyzes the shift in the reception of Mesopotamia in popular culture, considering how its representation in more modern contexts reflects equally modern and distinct perspectives on the ancient world. 

Dr. Frauke Uhlenbruch
Science Fiction and Fan Fiction as tools in the study of ancient texts

Tracing appearances of the Hebrew Bible in modern science fiction is reception history, but how about the other way around? "Inception" history? Looking for science fiction in the Hebrew Bible is anachronistic. But science fiction and its attitude toward the future, reality, and agency yields interesting insights when placed next to an ancient text and the questions we seek to answer about it. In this presentation I hope to demonstrate how science fiction and fan fiction can be abstracted and used as hermeneutic/heuristic tools when studying an ancient text in modern times. 


Please join us via Zoom (details below) on Thursday 28 October 2021, 18:00-19:45 EEST/Helsinki time (i.e. UTC+03:00).

Hope to see you all online! Please note the unusual time.

Zoom link: (Meeting ID: 678 8979 2118).