ACADEMIC LECTURES

"Latin Seminar in Jerusalem" (By Terence Tunberg and Milena Minkova)

June 3-6, 2018, At Polis Institute

Terence Tunberg and Milena Minkova, both of the Universit yof Kentucky in Lexington, will be visiting Polis Institute to deliver a series of Latin seminars and lectures between June 3, 2018 and June 6, 2018. The schedule for the series can be found below: 

Sunday, June 3

17:00 "History of the Spoken and extempore use of Latin" by Terence Tunberg (English)

Monday, June 4 

9:00-9:45, 9:50-10:35 "The concept of the 'studia humanitiatis' and some fundamental texts of Cicero pertaining to this idea" 

11:00-11:45, 11:50-12:35 "Poetae veteres et poetae novi (Catullus and Ianus Secundus)" 

Tuesday, June 5

10:45-12:15 "Epistulae tamquam speculum historiae (Plinius Secundus and Erasmus)"

14:00-15:15 "Colloquia scholastica Latina"

17:30 "Various Dimensions of the universality of the Latin Language" by Milena Minkova (English) 

Wednesday, June 6 

9:00-10:15 "Ludovici Holbergii Nicolai Klimii iter subterraneum (1741)"

"The Sumerian Verb: A Workshop for the Non-Sumerian Speaker" (By Wayne Horowitz)

December 3, At Polis Institute

Wayne Horowitz, Professor of Assyriology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is presenting a lecture at Polis  on Saturday, 3 December, at 19:00. His topic will be "The Sumerian Verb: A Workshop for the Non-Sumerian Speaker." The lecture is open to all, so pleases RSVP to ecalderon@polisjerusalem.org if you are interested in attending.

Wayne Horowitz will also be teaching a course in Sumerian beginning Tuesday, November 29. Registration is still open for this course, so please contact me  for more information or to register. 

"The Sumerian Verb: A Workshop for the Non-Sumerian Speaker" (By Wayne Horowitz)

December 3, At Polis Institute

Wayne Horowitz, Professor of Assyriology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is presenting a lecture at Polis  on Saturday, 3 December, at 19:00. His topic will be "The Sumerian Verb: A Workshop for the Non-Sumerian Speaker." The lecture is open to all, so pleases RSVP to ecalderon@polisjerusalem.org if you are interested in attending.

Wayne Horowitz will also be teaching a course in Sumerian beginning Tuesday, November 29. Registration is still open for this course, so please contact me  for more information or to register. 

INAUGURAL LECTURE ACADEMIC YEAR 2016-2017: "Hebrew Before Ivrit - The Life of a Language in Exile"

13 November 2016, At Polis Institute

 

The Inaugural Lecture at Polis Institute allowed Polis students and faculty to gain new insights into the life and survival of the Hebrew language in the past two millennia.

Asher Salah, a renowned specialist in Italian-Jewish literature, spoke on how the Hebrew language developed during the Jewish diaspora, in particular in Italy.

 

The lecture, titled “Hebrew before Ivrit: The Life of a Language in Exile,” focused on the vicissitudes of Hebrew between the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, and the revival of the modern national movement that led to the establishment of the State of Israel.

 

 “I think this topic is very much adapted to the reality of what we are living in Polis,” Professor Christophe Rico, Director of the Polis Institute, said before the hour-long lecture, held on Nov. 10, 2016.

Salah presented the history of the Hebrew language throughout six periods--Biblical Hebrew, Mishnaic Hebrew, Medieval Hebrew, Renaissance Hebrew, Maskilic Hebrew and finally, Modern Hebrew.

-Summary by Meredith Rodriguez, student of the One-Year program in Near Eastern Languages

INAUGURAL LECTURE 2015-2016: "New Jerusalem in Babylon: The Al-Yahudu Tablets and Minorities in Rural First Millennium Babylon."

 12 November 2015, At Polis Institute

On November 12th 2015, the Polis institute of Languages and Humanities had the great pleasure of commencing its annual lecture series with a presentation by Wayne Horowitz (Professor of Assyriology & Senior Lecturer in The Institute of Archaeology at Hebrew University).

Horowitz presented a slide show lecture about the ‘Al-Yahudu’ tablets; about 220 Babylonian cuneiform tablets which were written between 572 to 483 BCE. What makes these tablets special and interesting is that:

  • They were written during the Babylonian Exile of the Jewish people,

  • They contain several dozens of Jewish names (like Eved-Yahu, Baruk-Yawa, Natan-Yawa, Rapha-Yawa, Haggai, Zachariah, Yahu-Ezri, etc.)

  • It is a scribal custom when writing a cuneiform document for the scribe to write his name followed by the day, the month and the name of the King of Babylon and which year of that kings reign.

These tablets are signed at the bottom as having been written in Babylonian cities like Judah (where the Judean exiles where resettled to work) or were signed as having been written in places like, “by the Chabar canal.” The Chebar canal is one of many canals that Babylonian exiles were forced to dig as part of their mandatory corvee labor service. It is also the canal that the Prophet Ezekiel mentions, “while I was among the exiles by the Chebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God” (Ezk. 1:1).

While this collection of tablets is entirely economical and does not contain private letters or literature, there are plenty of exciting and important things that one can discover.

For example, Professor Horowitz presented a seemingly boring text which was a promissory note for Barley. However, it immediately became interesting when he pointed out that Shlomiyawa (a Judean) borrowed barley from Jamaal (an Arab) in the town of Judah in the month of Tevet, and will repay the barley with interest in the town of Adabilu (an Arab town) in the month of Sivan. Shlomiyawa even signed his name on the side of the promissory note in Paleo-Hebrew. Another very interesting thing we can learn from these texts is that Judeans may have had no problems switching ‘Yahu’ theophoric elements in names with ‘Bel’ theophoric names. For example, a Judean by the name of Bel-shar-uṣur (may-Bel-protect-the-king) also bears the name Yahu-shar-uṣur. This is similar to how Daniel (in the book of Daniel) has his named changed to Bel-Shar-uṣur (spelled: Belteshazzar). After all, Bel in Akkadian means “lord,” and is not always conflated with a specific deity from the pantheon as Bel is in Canaanite religions. Finally, Prof. Horowitz showed us a marriage contract from the Babylonian city of Judah which is the oldest surviving Judean qetuba.

(For more information, see: Documents of Judean Exiles and West Semites in Babylonia in the Collection of David Sofer by Laurie Pearce & Cornelia Wunsch, and על נהרות בבל: תעודות בכתב היהדות מראשית גלות בבל by Wayne Horowitz, Yehoshua Greenberg, & Peter Zilberg.)

-Summary by Janet Safford, student of the MA program in Ancient Philology

THE LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA: MYTH OR REALITY (PROF. CHRISTOPHE RICO)

February, 15th. 2012 at University of North Texas

INAUGURAL LECTURE 2014-2015: "The Origins of the Alphabet"

13 November 2014, At Polis Institute

On November 13, 2014, Professor Orly Goldwasser of the Hebrew University gave a wonderful lecture on “The Origins of the Alphabet,” in which she described an early stage in the alphabet’s evolution from hieroglyphs to the alphabets that we use today. As Professor Goldwasser explained, the modern understanding of the alphabet’s history began in the year 1915, when Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner deciphered Proto-Canaanite using the “Ba‘alat” inscriptions at Sinai, some of the earliest attested alphabetic writing. He later asserted that this script—which has since given rise to the Hebrew, Arabic, English, and Greek writing systems (among others)—was invented by educated scribes. Professor Orly Goldwasser explained her own theory that the Proto-Canaanite script was instead invented by the Canaanites working in the mines at Sinai.

Inscriptions around the mines are to be found everywhere, so much so that it is nearly impossible to sit on a stone that is entirely bare. While all of the inscriptions look hieroglyphic at first sight, one particular collection, lacking hieroglyphs’ organization and consisting of many fewer distinct characters, stands out. These qualities strongly suggest a nascent script based entirely on representing sounds—history’s first alphabet. With the language that Sir Gardiner was able to decipher, along with the fact that 30 of the 33 alphabetic inscriptions were discovered in the mines, Goldwasser posits that the authors of this new script at Sinai were Canaanite miners rather than an educated elite. In daily oral contact with Egyptians but ignorant of hieroglyphic writing, these miners devised a new script that borrowed a number of hieroglyphic signs but used the principle of acrophony (whereby a symbol represents the first sound of that symbol’s word) to associate characters with sounds: Hence, for instance, a house or בית (bayit/bet) came to represent the letter b, and a head or ראש (ro’sh/re’sh) represented the letter r. Despite some open questions surrounding some characters (such as ו/w and ק/q), as well as criticism that such a useful invention as the alphabet cannot be traced back to humble beginnings, Goldwasser holds that hers remains the strongest theory: The invention of Proto-Canaanite—and hence the progenitor of most modern alphabets—is due not to a class of educated elite, but to a group of Canaanite miners at Sinai.

 INAUGURAL LECTURE 2013-2014: "The Challenge of Translating St. Agustine's Cofessions into Hebrew"

November, 14th, 2013 at Polis Institute

On Novemebr  14th, 2013. We had the inaugural lecture of our Master's program in Ancient Philology. The lecture, “The Challenge of translating St. Augustine’s Confessions into Hebrew”,  by Prof. Aviad Kleinberg took place at the Polis Institute, Ha-Ayin-Het Street 8. Prof. Kleinberg, from Tel-Aviv University, is a well-known specialist of Western Christianity, director of the Tel-Aviv University Press and the author of several books in Hebrew, namely a translation of St. Augustine’s Confessions and an Introduction to Christianity.

THE LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA: MYTH OR REALITY (PROF. CHRISTOPHE RICO)

February, 15th. 2012 at University of North Texas

Christophe Rico, specialist of Greek Antiquity, gives a lecture about the ancient Library of Alexandria at the University of North Texas

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