Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies

. Dr. Shiyanthi Thavapalan (Assyriology), Brown University, US

Ancient Mesopotamia Between Science and the Senses

Did the people in ancient Mesopotamia, who lived millennia ago, perceive and interact with the world in the same way as we do today? Which truths about nature and the cosmos did the Assyrians and Babylonians seek to know and how did they go about looking for this knowledge? This talk will describe certain aspects of Mesopotamian science and scientific practices. It will further explore the relationship between science and magic and show how appreciating the particularities of the Mesopotamian sensory landscape can help us better understand their epistemic worldview. 


Shiyanthi Thavapalan received her PhD in Assyriology at Yale University. She was a Postdoctoral Research Associate and then a Visiting Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Assyriology at Brown University before being awarded the Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship. She is the author of The Meaning of Color in Ancient Mesopotamia (Brill, 2020) and the editor of The Value of Colour. Material and Economic Aspects in the Ancient World (Edition Topoi, 2019). Her research focuses on the Akkadian language as well as on Assyrian and Babylonian cultural, economic and technological history.