The Netherlands Institute for the Near East

Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten  -  Institut nĂ©erlandais du Proche-Orient

25 Jan 09:30

5th NINO Annual Meeting: Invention & ingenuity

Shiyanthi Thavapalan, Shana Zaia, Bas ter Haar Romeny

VU Amsterdam

The fifth Annual Meeting of the Netherlands Institute for the Near East will be held on Thursday 25 January 2024 at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

VU Organizers: Bas ter Haar Romeny, Shiyanthi Thavapalan, Shana Zaia
Theme: Invention & ingenuity in the Ancient Near East

Admission is free. Register by email to Shiyanthi Thavapalan before January 15, 2024.


Update 22-1-2024: (small) program change

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Agora 1 at VU Amsterdam Main Building (Hoofdgebouw)

De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam

09:30-10:00 Coffee and Registration



Welcome and Introductory Remarks

Introducing the VU’s Special Collections Exhibition for NINO Day

10:15-11:00 Keynote

Philology as an Experimental System:
Two Moments in the History of Cuneiform Notation

J. Cale Johnson (FU Berlin)

11:00-11:15 Coffee Break


Session 1

Chair: Shana Zaia

The Achaemenid Administrations’ Introduction of Aramaic as a Vehicular and Administrative Language Margaretha Folmer (Leiden University)
A Shared World of Images: Invention and Ingenuity in the Creation of a Common Language of Representation in Aegean and Black Sea Networks during the 5th to 3rd centuries BCE Aleksandar Tsankov (Utrecht University)
Between Local and Global Perspective: Behind the Historiographical Plan of the Liber Superiorum of Thomas of Marga (9th c. CE) Giovanni Gomiero (Ghent University)

12:45-14:00 Lunch Break


Session 2

Chair: Shiyanthi Thavapalan

Tradition, Innovation, and Creativity in the Babylonian Horoscope. Some New Ideas about the Babylonian Origin of the Planetary Exaltations in Greco-Roman Astrology Alessia Pilloni (FU Berlin) & Mathieu Ossendrijver (FU Berlin)
Invention and Creativity in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East: Embedding Global Diversity Miguel John Versluys (Leiden University)

15:15-15:45 Coffee Break

15:45-16:30 Session 4 Lightning Round

Chair: Bas ter Haar Romeny

A Note on the Technical Examination of Late Bronze Age Glass Tubes from the Ziggurat of Chogha Zanbil in Dutch Archaeological Collections Guus Verhaar and Réne van Beek (TU Delft and Allard Pierson Museum)
Anchoring Asceticism in Late Antique Gaul: Interiority, Paideia, and Community in Lérinian Hagiography Teun van Dijk (VU Amsterdam)
Paul, Syriac Christianity, and Judaism: Syriac Interpretations of Romans 9–11 Hanna Hoogenraad (VU Amsterdam)

16:30 Borrel


We all know the Ancient Near East to be the birthplace of writing, medicine, mathematics, astronomy and a whole host of engineering and techno-scientific feats, some of which are only coming to light now, as we in the humanities collaborate more and more with colleagues in the STEM fields. At NINO Day 2024, we propose to explore the theme of Invention and Ingenuity in the Ancient Near East. On the one hand, speakers will highlight concrete examples of innovation and creativity in the material record and anchor them within the global history of ideas. On the other, they will also take the opportunity to consider how these concepts are reflected upon in ancient literature—that is to say, in the imagination or the mental world of people. The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam looks forward to hosting a lively discussion about how people exploited nature to invent and how inventions transformed ways of living.