AMME Seminar: Cultural encounters

The most recent AMME seminar was held on Zoom on November 12th. The theme of the evening was cultural encounters and the speakers were Helen Dixon (East California University) and Céline Debourse (University of Vienna).

Prof. dr. Helen Dixon spoke about Phoenician abroad: Diaspora communities and trade-based encounters in the first millennium BCE. She looks at the Phoenician communities from the perspective of Diaspora theory and studies which features of diasporic communities can be found from Phoenician communities abroad. There are some features the Phoenician communities abroad seem to share such as name changing practices. Phoenicians left abroad for many reasons, but the basic categories are early colonizers, inhabitants of established Phoenician colonies, inhabitants of established cities abroad, seasonal migrants, ing-distance traders and soldiers. However, the categories are not clear cut and seem to have some overlapping. For example, there are mentions of Phoenicians collecting good while traveling with an army. Hear more about this from the video below!


Dr. Céline Cebourse introduced some of the findings of her PhD work concerning the Babylonian New Year festival. One of the key questions in her speech was why this tradition continued under a foreign rule, even though parts of the festival focus on legitimization of kingship. To answer this question, it is necessary to look at different types of texts. For example, astronomical diaries give some insight on how the practices of this festival changed. Another important part of this change of the festival is how the role of priests changed. As the king was mostly absent from Babylon, the priests took on some of the tasks that were previously performed by the king. Learn more about these changes from this video of Céline Debourse’s speech.