Recent Faculty Books

Recent books and major publications authored or edited by MELC faculty are listed below.

Weseretkau “Mighty of Kas”: Papers in Memory of Cathleen A. Keller

Edited by Deanna Kiser-Go and Carol A. Redmount (Lockwood Press, 2023)

Weseretkau “Mighty of Kas” honors the life and career of Professor Cathleen “Candy” Keller, a truly extraordinary teacher, scholar, Egyptologist, and polymath. The contributors to this volume were Professor Keller’s students, friends, and colleagues. Though much of the research presented  here centers around the honoree’s two primary passions—Egyptian art and the study of the village of Deir el-Medina—the range of topics reflects her broad Egyptological interests, including religious organization, artistic technique, museum collections, textual analyses, historical events, and archaeological studies at sites throughout Egypt.

The Oxford Handbook of the Egyptian Book of the Dead

Edited by Rita Lucarelli and Martin Andreas Stadler (Oxford University Press, 2023)

Among the broad spectrum of ancient Egyptian religious literature, the Book of the Dead is the most representative of ancient Egyptian mortuary religion and of the magical and ritual practices belonging to it. Moreover, its rich corpus of texts and images provides unique information on the scribal practices, mortuary traditions, myths, and priestly rituals in ancient Egypt from the 2nd Millennium BCE to the Roman Period. The Oxford Handbook of the Egyptian Book of the Dead is the first major guide to collect and synthesize the wide-ranging body of scholarship on the Book of the Dead as well as the broader literature on ancient Egyptian religion and magic.

Ancient Egypt, New Technology: The Present and Future of Computer Visualization, Virtual Reality and Other Digital Humanities in Egyptology

Edited by Rita Lucarelli, Joshua A. Roberson, and Steve Vinson (Brill, 2023)

This open access volume of collected studies takes stock of most recent developments in Egyptology and the Digital Humanities, considering future directions for the application of new technologies in Egyptology. The book presents the results of an international conference held in 2019 at Indiana University – Bloomington, in which Egyptologists and digital humanists with interest in Egyptology gathered in 2019 to present current projects in 3D modeling, virtual and augmented reality, game technology, digital pedagogy, database projects, computational and corpus linguistics and E-publications. Those projects, along with a selection of others that were not presented in Bloomington, are now described and discussed in this volume.

Palimpsests of Themselves: Logic and Commentary in Postclassical Muslim South Asia

Asad Ahmed (University of California Press, 2022)

Palimpsests of Themselves is an intervention in current discussions about the fate of philosophy in postclassical Islamic intellectual history. Asad Q. Ahmed uses as a case study the most advanced logic textbook of Muslim South Asia, The Ladder of the Sciences, presenting in English its first full translation and extended commentary. He offers detailed assessments of the technical contributions of the work, explores the social and institutional settings of the vast commentarial response it elicited, and develops a theory of the philosophical commentary that is internal to the tradition. These approaches to the commentarial text complicate presuppositions upon which questions of Islam’s intellectual decline are erected. As such, Ahmed offers a unique and powerful opportunity to understand the transmission of knowledge across the Islamic world.

Preserving Cultural Heritage in the Digital Age: Sending Out an S.O.S.

Edited by Nicola Lercari, Willeke Wendrich, Benjamin Porter, Margie Burton, and Thomas E. Levy  (Equinox Press, 2022)

This book brings attention to the magnitude of the silent loss of cultural heritage occurring worldwide and the even more insidious loss of knowledge due to the lack of publication and preservation of original data, notes, plans, and photographs of excavated archaeological sites. Highlighting a growing sense of urgency to intervene in whatever way possible, this book provides readers with a non-technical overview of how archaeologists and other stakeholders are increasingly turning to digital methods to mitigate some of the threats to at-risk cultural heritage. This volume is a gateway to enhancing the scale and reach of capturing, analyzing, managing, curating, and disseminating cultural heritage knowledge in sustainable ways and promoting collaboration among scholars and stakeholder communities.

Studies on the Sogdian Epistolary Tradition

Adam Benkato (Brepols, 2018)

An important part of the Sogdian corpora which have come down to us are epistolary texts: both the earliest substantial Sogdian documents (the 'Ancient Letters') and the only substantial textual corpus found in Sogdiana itself (the Mugh documents). The Turfan collections of (especially) Berlin, Kyoto, and St. Petersburg, also preserve a number of letter fragments. Altogether, these texts attest different phases of a Sogdian epistographical tradition stretching over some seven centuries. The edition and analysis of both well-preserved and fragmentary texts can contribute to efforts to reconstruct parts of those traditions—and eventually connect them with those of Central Asia and Iran more broadly. The first part of this work is an effort to present a comprehensive edition of the Sogdian epistolary fragments in the Turfan collections of Berlin, Kyoto, and St. Petersburg. In the second part a comparative study of Sogdian epistolography is undertaken, based on the editions made in the first part, together with previously published work on other Sogdian epistolary corpora, including studies of layout, external addresses, and stamps.

Before Nature: Cuneiform Knowledge and the History of Science

Francesca Rochberg (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Before the concept of nature formed over the long history of European philosophy and science, our ancestors in ancient Assyria and Babylonia developed an inquiry into the world in a way that is kindred to our modern science. With Before Nature, Francesca Rochberg explores that Assyro-Babylonian knowledge tradition and shows how it relates to the entire history of science. From a modern, Western perspective, a world not conceived somehow within the framework of physical nature is difficult—if not impossible—to imagine. Yet, as Rochberg lays out, ancient investigations of regularity and irregularity, norms and anomalies clearly established an axis of knowledge between the knower and an intelligible, ordered world. Rochberg is the first scholar to make a case for how exactly we can understand cuneiform knowledge, observation, prediction, and explanation in relation to science—without recourse to later ideas of nature. Systematically examining the whole of Mesopotamian science with a distinctive historical and methodological approach, Before Nature will open up surprising new pathways for studying the history of science.

Remembering the Dead in the Ancient Near East

Edited by Benjamin W. Porter and Alexis Boutin (University Press of Colorado, 2014)

Remembering the Dead in the Ancient Near East is among the first comprehensive treatments to present the diverse ways in which ancient Near Eastern civilizations memorialized and honored their dead, using mortuary rituals, human skeletal remains, and embodied identities as a window into the memory work of past societies. In six case studies teams of researchers with different skill sets—osteological analysis, faunal analysis, culture history and the analysis of written texts, and artifact analysis—integrate mortuary analysis with bioarchaeological techniques. Drawing upon different kinds of data, including human remains, ceramics, jewelry, spatial analysis, and faunal remains found in burial sites from across the region's societies, the authors paint a robust and complex picture of death in the ancient Near East.

Complex Communities: The Archaeology of Early Iron Age West-Central Jordan

Benjamin W. Porter (University of Arizona Press, 2013)

Complex Communities explores how sedentary settlements developed and flourished in the Middle East during the Early Iron Age nearly four thousand years ago. Using archaeological evidence, Benjamin Porter reconstructs how residents maintained their communities despite environmental uncertainties. Living in a semi-arid area in the present-day country of Jordan, villagers faced a harsh and unpredictable ecosystem. Communities fostered resilience by creating flexible production routines and leadership strategies. Settlements developed what archaeologists call “communal complexity,” a condition through which small-scale societies shift between egalitarian and hierarchical arrangements. Complex Communities provides detailed, scientifically grounded reconstructions of how this communal complexity functioned in the region.