Anthony McNicoll Memorial Lecture:

25 September, 2013

Emeritus Professor Edgar Peltenburg,
Edinburgh University,
2013 Anthony McNicoll Visiting Scholar

Cost: FREE

Hosted by the University of Sydney’s Department of Archaeology, Near Eastern Archaeology section


Great monuments such as the Wall of China, Egyptian pyramids and, in South Mesopotamia, the staged temple towers referred to as ziggurats are well known. It is only recently that other imposing structures of 3rd millennium BC North Mesopotamia have come to light, mainly as a result of rescue excavations in advance of the creation of reservoirs.  Amongst these are conspicuous funerary monuments which served as settings for protracted and complex rites.  They coincide with the beginnings of urbanisation, state formation and the settling of mobile, pastoral groups.  These new political configurations bear the stamp of tribal backgrounds in which there were leaders without coercive powers.  They are frequently compared to Old Testament tribal groups, but these belong to the 3rd millennium BC. Their funerary monuments are largely found in a zone of uncertainty, that is, marginal lands of the Fertile Crescent where pastoralism traditionally played a major role.  The lecture aims to describe this new suite of varied monuments and to show how they reveal another type of monumental building of the Ancient Near East, one that was seminal in the political development of peoples generally known as the Amorites.


A native of French Canada, Edgar Peltenburg was awarded a PhD by the University of Birmingham, England in 1968 for his research on early vitreous materials in Western Asia.   As a Post-Doctoral Fellow there, he conducted research and excavations in Iran, Iraq and Cyprus.  He joined the University of Glasgow in 1970 as Extra-Mural Tutor for Agryll and the Inner Hebrides, a position he held for 10 years.  During that time he conducted excavations in Argyll and Cyprus.  He moved to the University of Edinburgh in 1980 to take up a position in Near Eastern archaeology and was eventually made Professor of Archaeology there.  Aside from his many contributions to Cypriot prehistory, from its colonisation to its emergence in an international Bronze Age world, he directed numerous excavations primarily on sites in the west of the island. He established and still directs the Lemba Archaeological Research Centre in Western Cyprus.  He also directed the 12-year British contribution to international rescue operations along a part of the Euphrates River that is now a reservoir just south of the Syro-Turkish border. From 2006, he has co-directed the Land of Carchemish Project, a survey of the uplands beside the Euphrates in the same area.  In recognition of his outstanding contributions to field archaeology, the American Schools of Oriental Research awarded him the P. E. MacAllister Field Archaeology Award in 2010.

Professor Peltenburg is author and editor of some 10 books on prehistory and over 100 papers on the prehistory of Western Asia and the East Mediterranean.  His current interests include the nature of small-scale communities and their evolution into complex societies, and the interaction between technology and society.  Recent book titles include Euphrates River Valley Settlement.  The Carchemish Sector in the Third Millennium BC., The Colonisation and Settlement of Cyprus.  Investigations at Kissonerga-Mylouthkia, 1976-1996 and Associated Regional Chronologies of the Ancient Near East II. Cyprus.


Prof. Peltenburg is in Sydney for two weeks from September 16.

Location: Eastern Avenue Auditorium