Lecture

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Date: 
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - 18:00 to 20:00
Location: 
The British Academy

Dr Birger Ekornåsvåg Helgestad and Dr Jonathan Taylor on Walking in Woolley's Footsteps: Ur Brought to Life for the Digital Age

BISI Annual Mallowan Lecture 

Sir Leonard Woolley’s excavations (1922–1934) at the ancient city of Ur captured the world’s imagination. This was partly due to his extraordinary talent for communicating his results in talks and writing, and partly due to what he discovered. Above the city rose a great ziggurat. Deep below it was a series of royal burials filled with lavish grave goods and the victims of human sacrifice. Nearby were the remains of everyday life in the city fabled as the home of Abraham.

The Ur Project is an ambitious collaboration between the British Museum and Penn Museum, and in the future hopefully also the Iraq Museum. All the objects found by Woolley at Ur are being photographed and described, cuneiform inscriptions are being transliterated and translated, and the original excavation photographs, archives, plans, and other documents, are being scanned and indexed. The results are digitally reunified in a new online resource, allowing researchers to track an object from its discovery through to its present location using Woolley's field notes and photographs, museum registrations, and other publications.

Birger Ekornåsvåg Helgestad has been employed as the Project Curator for the Ur Project in the British Museum's Department of the Middle East since autumn 2011. He is a Near Eastern archaeologist educated at University College London (Ph.D. and M.A.), the University of Oslo (Cand. Mag.), and the University of Copenhagen (B.A.).

Jonathan Taylor has been Curator of Cuneiform Collections at the British Museum since 2006. He has 15 years’ experience of working on digital projects. For the last three years he has been responsible for the cuneiform component of the Ur Project. He also directs the Ashurbanipal Library Project. Dr Taylor recently co-authored (with Irving Finkel) Cuneiform, an accessible new introduction to cuneiform writing.

Photo: Sir Leonard Woolley with plaster cast of harp. Copyright: British Museum 

 

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