Dr. Younger to Speak at U of Chicago

On May 4, Dr. Lawson Younger, professor of Old Testament, Semitic languages, and ancient Near Eastern history, will join several scholars for a free symposium about how ancient Near Eastern cultures honored the dead at 1:00 pm at the Oriental Institute Museum of the University of Chicago.

The half-day symposium, dealing with ancient practices in the care and commemoration of the dead, is being held in conjunction with a special exhibit at the museum, “In Remembrance of Me: Feasting with the Dead in the Ancient Middle East.” As all cultures across time have tried to honor and commemorate their dead, this exhibit shows how the living cared for the dead and how the ancients conceptualized the idea of the human soul in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Levant.

Dr. Younger will speak on “The Katumuwa Stele Inscription,” found on a memorial monument recently discovered in Zincirli, Turkey. The monument, dating to about 735 BC, is carved with an image of a man named Katumuwa seated before a table heaped with offerings. The lengthy inscription in Aramaic, a language widely used in the Middle East at that time, reveals new information about the practice of enacting annual sacrifices for the soul of the deceased.

Other experts in Near Eastern religion at the symposium include: Virginia Herrmann (Dartmouth College), David Schloen (University of Chicago), Theodore Lewis (The Johns Hopkins University), Karel van der Toorn (University of Amsterdam), and Theo van den Hout (University of Chicago). They will come together to describe the significance of the Katumuwa Stele and to place its mortuary beliefs and practices into the broader context of the contemporary biblical world and neighboring cultures.

The event is free, but registration is required. A reception will follow. For more information, visit the Oriental Institute website at oi.uchicago.edu/events.

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