Department of Egyptology and Assyriology

The Mellon workshop, established by a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, is awarded to graduate students in the Humanities. Typically Brown awards only five graduate workshops each year. The workshop is intended to both provide a means by which to facilitate dissertation completion and to foster communication across disciplines within the academy. Each group is encouraged to bring visitors to campus who will enable their participants to refine their writing and promote new depths of understanding in their work. On a more regular basis, the groups serve as forums to discuss their participants’ writing and explore topics of mutual interest, thus fostering an environment of collaboration and intellectual exchange. 

New book on the lunar calendar co-edited by John Steele published.

This collection of papers explores the way cultures have dealt with the vagaries of a lunar calendar on everyday life. The volume, co-edited by John Steele, includes contributions by Steele and the department's Leo Depuydt.

Congratulations to Professor Laurel Bestock for receiving a Henry Merritt Wriston Fellowship Award at the Sheridan Center University Awards Ceremony on May 7th, 2012.  Katherine Bergeron, Dean of the College, presented the award. The Henry Merritt Wriston Fellowship is awarded each year to regular untenured members of the faculty (assistant professors and lecturers) who have achieved a record of excellence in teaching and scholarship during their first years at Brown. The winner, chosen by a faculty committee, is granted one semester of leave on special assignment.

The department is delighted to announce that Kathryn Howley, a third-year PhD student in Egyptology, has been awarded this year's Best Student Paper Award at the annual conference of the American Research Center in Egypt for her paper "A Reexamination of Early 'Sed Festival' Representations". Congratulations, Kathryn, on this prestigious and well-deserved award!

Assyriology graduate students, Willis Monroe and Zack Wainer, recently translated a song by the The Dirty Projectors "The gun has no trigger" into Akkadian.  Willis wrote out the cuneiform using an Old-Babylonian lapidary script. The website for the single is

The American Oriental Society will be meeting on March 16-19, 2012 in Boston.   Professor John M. Steele will be presenting Numbers, Signs and Meanings in Babylonian Astral Medicine on Friday afternoon, March 16th.  Also presenting Friday afternoon will be Zackary Wainer Etiologies of Illness: 
 A Late Babylonian Understanding of the "Hand of Ishtar" and Yuzhen Guan A New View on Solar Eclipse Records in the Pre-Qin Period.   M. Willis Monroe will present Tablets and Tokens: Methods of Administration on Assyrias Northern Frontier Saturday morning, March 17th. 

March 23, 2012 Professor Laurel Bestock leaves for Sudan to begin a new Brown project at the site of Uronarti. Uronarti is a currently uninhabited island in the Nile in northern Sudan, where the 12th Dynasty Egyptian kings built one of a string of monumental fortresses.  In conjunction with Vienna University Professor Bestock  will be inaugurating a program of survey and excavation that they hope will clarify many aspects of the Middle Kingdom Egyptian involvement in Nubia.

Springer Publications announces a new book by John M. Steele Ancient Astrononomical Observations and the Study of the Moon's Motion (1691-1757)

John M. Steele tells the story of how the secular acceleration of the moon was discovered, the reception of its discovery, and the first attempts to determine its size of the acceleration from historical data. Additionally, this study addresses the wider question of how ancient and medieval astronomy was viewed in the eighteenth century; particularly European perceptions of ancient Greek, Arabic, Babylonian, and Chinese astronomy.