What is a city? How do religion, politics, and environments effect the growth and development of cities? Throughout history some cities have thrived while others have perished. Join the Penn Museum on the first Wednesday evening of each month, October through June, for our popular "Great Lecture Series: Great Rise of the City". Explore what makes a city a city in diverse regions of the world, from Greece to Mexico to China to the Middle East and even your own backyard.
Dr. Peter Struck, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. For 2017-2018, the Penn Museum’s popular monthly Great Lectures Series, first Wednesday evenings October through June, focuses on the Rise of the City. Peter Struck, Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, kicks off the new series with a Classical focus. Aristotle famously called humans “political animals.” But by that he meant that humans are pack animals, they by nature live in clumps, and their natural clump size, he claimed, is the city, or the Greek polis. This talk examines Greek ideas about the polis, from philosophers, poets, and historians, from the archaic and classical periods. Dr. Struck examines the idea that we are by nature city creatures, and that no other mode of living fits humans so naturally as urban life.
Dr. Simon Martin, Associate Curator, American Section, Penn Museum. By at least 1000 BCE the ancient Maya were building massive temple platforms in the midst of dispersed settlements, an approach to urbanism that persisted for almost two millennia. The low density of these settlements was uniquely suited to their rainforest environment, based on an “agro-urban” system in which foodstuffs and other important crops were produced within the heart of the city, right up to the edge of palaces and ceremonial plazas. Major questions remain about how this system came about and functioned through time. Dr. Simon Martin’s takes us on a tour of the jungle cities, exploring the origins, operation, and ultimate collapse of one of the world’s most sophisticated tropical civilizations.
Dr. Steve Tinney, Associate Curator, Babylonian Section, Penn Museum. The great Babylonian myth “When on high …”, often called the Babylonian Epic of Creation, traces the history of Babylon from the very beginning of time itself. Swallowing many other ancient Mesopotamian myths it presents a single story of how Marduk became king of the gods by killing the Sea, and founded Babylon as the center of the universe. As it does so, it reveals much about ancient Mesopotamian cosmos and that most important of institutions, the city.
Dr. Josef Wegner, Associate Curator, Egyptian Section, Penn Museum, and Associate Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania. Some of the earliest cities in the world arose along the banks of the Nile. Millennia of change have obscured the remains of these once-great urban centers. Archaeology is increasingly revealing the characteristics of some of these cities of Egypt’s past. The lecture will look at some the earliest, and greatest, cities of the civilization of the pharaohs.