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Book in Focus
Images, Perceptions and Productions in and of Antiquity
Edited by Maria Helena Trindade Lopes and André Patrício
International conferences are one of the most effective ways of having one’s academic research presented to the public, to receive questions that help to view aspects one would never think about in one’s own research, and, ultimately, they are the perfect setting to establish work connections.
However, these conferences would have no meaning if the papers were not properly written and subsequently compiled into what is usually called a “Conference Proceedings” volume.
For several years, we have participated in international conferences and published our papers in the usual format: a succession of papers, one after the other.
When the umbrella of any conference is quite extensive, the volume of people that read their papers will, in theory, be quite slim. One tends to search for a paper that one needs either for research or just out of interest on that particular subject.
This was the case in this specific international conference, entitled “In Thy Arms I Lost Myself – Images Perceptions and Productions in/ of Antiquity”. The study areas were so wide, including subjects that could be included in general themes such as Studies Antiquity, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Near East, Classical World and Reception of Antiquity.
When we were considering how to publish these proceedings in a different way, mainly one that would give the papers both an interesting frame and an enriched setting for being displayed, as well as a devised geography and chronology, we immediately decided that we had to arrange them as chapters and to insert sections as needed. But most importantly, each chapter would have an adequate introduction, based on empirical and scientific evidence, and would need to have been written by a relevant specialist.
The book that resulted from this process has a double purpose. First, to collect the information conveyed by the papers, all of which were double peer-reviewed and selected from the ones presented at the conference, each having being written by researchers and academics. Second, to carefully chose information that one could use for research, or to deepen one’s knowledge, about the (then decided) four big themes: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Near and the Middle East, The Classical World and The Reception of Antiquity. Historically, all these chapters together would cover more than 6000 years and would be presented to the reader in two ways: as an introduction to a global frame and as presenting 23 different points of view. Each paper was complemented with the academic knowhow of university professors that not only have a long record of research production but also an extensive teaching practice. And so, the idea of the book was complete.
Ancient Egypt encompasses a reality that many of us (even those who study it) feel to be both familiar and yet always new. Filled with unknowns and a richness of information that would keep researchers occupied for centuries, many maintain that what is known today is all but a grain in a desert of what is yet to be found. After all, this civilization frequently attracts a long list of spectacular papers (some of them in this volume) and an equally long list of researchers curious about it. With a scientific, literary, architectural, religious and societal complexity that hardly finds a rival in antiquity, the first chapter addresses some of these arcs. “Chapter One: Ancient Egypt” contextualizes the great civilization of Ancient Egypt throughout the millennia.
The introduction to “Chapter II: Ancient Near and the Middle East” focuses mainly on the civilization commonly referred to as the Mesopotamian Civilization in the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates.
Here, one finds a reality that seems so far away from the previous chapter, one with which all the civilizations of this wide area had contact, eventually either fighting with or establishing peace accords with the Mesopotamians. In this chapter, we see there is an enormous difference between the civilizations formed here and that in the Nile Valley and, most importantly, why that was, what the contributors were for that matrix, and how diverse that area really was. The papers included here help to bridge the Divine Feminine in Mesopotamia with the Phoenician presence and its impacts in the region.
“Chapter III: The Classical World” immerses the reader in what was, until sometime ago, considered the cradle of our occidental civilization: the Classical World. Here, we are introduced to Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, focusing on their civilizational precursors, who would, after the 8th century BCE, leave a corpus of study even more significant. The introduction to this chapter was written by an expert on both civilizations that is able to illustrate through her words the formation of both civilizations, and their eventual path to what we know of them today. The papers included in this chapter focus on Greek and Roman studies and are varied in themes, each highlighting extremely interesting points of view of the civilizations they focus on where archaeology illustrates aspects of the Middle Imperial Age of the Roman Empire.
“Chapter IV: The Reception of Antiquity” brings the reader to a more contemporaneous setting. The theory of reception, as the introduction addresses, appeared in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the introduction in real life of aspects of lost civilization easily remounts to the 19th century AD. If one thinks when the first great examples started to become part of life, one of them being the magnificent Egyptian Dining Room in Goodwood House – home to the Dukes of Richmond for over 300 years, now belonging to Charles Gordon-Lennox, the 11th Duke – in West Sussex, the United Kingdom. The detailed information found in this introduction will delight any avid researcher of Reception Studies with a focus on antiquity, as will the papers specially selected for this chapter.
This book turned out to be a labor of love, disseminating precise, scientifically accurate, and useful information about all the topics it approaches. Although not filled with all the papers presented in the international conference that originated this work, due to the high exigence of the reviewers and editors, we present you with 360 pages of information that takes readers through millennia of knowledge. The book contains 96 illustrations and maps as well as a cover especially designed by a Portuguese plastic artist: a cohesive collection of pieces of history.
Keywords: Studies Antiquity, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Near East, Classical World, Reception of Antiquity, Conference Proceedings, International Conferences, Academic Research
Maria Helena Trindade Lopes is a Full Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal. She is also the Coordinator of the Master’s Course in Egyptology and Coordinator of the “Representations, Discourses, Materialities and Uses of the Past” Group at the Humanities Centre at the same institution. Helena was the Director of the first, and at the moment only, Portuguese Archaeological Project in Egypt (Apriés Palace, in Memphis) that took place from 2000 to 2010.
André Patrício is a Clinical Psychologist and an Egyptologist. He holds an MA in both areas of knowledge and is currently a PhD Fellow in Ancient History, with specialization in Egyptology, at Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal. He is a Research Assistant, integrated into the “Representations, Discourses, Materialities and Uses of the Past” Group at the Humanities Centre at the same institution.
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