LEIDEN: Last Saturday, April 14th, the Dutch Symposium of the Ancient Near East (DUSANE) was held at the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. It was the seventh DUSANE to be organized since its first edition in 2006. This symposium focuses on everything Near Eastern, from archaeology to assyriology. ‘DUSANE aims to highlight Dutch research on the Ancient Near East and brings together scholars, students and others interested in the Ancient Near East, in an interdisciplinary way’, as it was said in the programme-booklet. Every year, archaeology and assyriology students from the University of Leiden come together to organize this student initiative. Though it has become more difficult over the years to find students interested in organizing such an event, they have been able to put together a nice committee. Meliantha Lelieveld, Laurens Jansen, Sarah-Jayne Nogarede, Bernard Kemperman, Iris Houdijk and Twan Peters have sacrificed their precious time to give Dutch scholars and students a chance to present their research.

During this DUSANE a total of six lectures were given, which were introduced by dr. Diederik Meijer, chairman for the day. The symposium started out with Eric Olijdam, an independent researcher, who showed us his work on seals and what they tell us about Dilmun during the early second millennium BC.

Next up was Bastian Still, a Ph.D-student, who presented us his research on the social implications of marriage in Babylonia. By means of social networks he reconstructed some conclusions about the hierarchy of temple families. Closing the morning session was Dlshad Marf Zamua, also a Ph.D-student at Leiden, who is writing his thesis about the cultural interaction between Assyria and the Northern Zagros during the Middle and Neo-Assyrian periods. For DUSANE he had prepared an interesting lecture about Lion thrones from Basmusian and Urkesh.

After the lunch-break, the afternoon sessions were started of by dr. Joris Kila. This military-adviser on heritage gave a lecture about a subject that should be close to the hearts of every Assyriologist. Talking about the destruction of monuments and sites in crisis situation, he vividly presented his work on the advisement of those involved in conflict, and about the many ways in which destruction takes place. The second researcher in the afternoon was dr. Eleftheria Pappa. She gave a presentation about Phoenician findings in Tavira, Portugal. Some interesting ideas were presented, possibly connecting the ancient name of Tavira, Balsa, to the semetic Ba’al Sur, the Ba’al of Tyre.

“Last but certainly not least”, as dr. Meijer introduced him, was Laurens Jansen. He presented his Bachelor thesis on the use of tridacna and other types of shells, exploring the manners in which these shells might have been used. Were they cosmetic containers, as has been thought, or were they used for something else. He had a very nice way of making the subject come alive by bringing in tools that might have been used in the preparation of these shells. By showing that the tools were very moveable, he defended his theory that the craftsmen could have been mobile rather not stationary.

At the end of the day, lecturers and students had the chance to discuss the proceedings of the symposium. Unfortunately, the amount of visitors for DUSANE had almost been halved in comparison with last year. Some 15 students and researchers were present. The organizing-committee explained that because of difficulties with getting lecturers to present their research, they could not advertise until the last moment. Hopefully next year, more researchers will want to support DUSANE and other student initiatives, so that these kinds of important activities may continue to exist.

Visit the DUSANE website for more information and abstracts.