Highlights From The Field: Excavations At GRAPE Making International Headlines
In Spring of 2017, Stephen Batiuk (Senior Research Associate, NMC) and Andrew Graham (NMC Alumnus) held the second season of excavations at the Gadachrili and Shulaveris Gora in the Republic of Georgia under GRAPE (Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition). Run as a Field School (course code NMC 261) under the auspices of Woodsworth College’s Summer Abroad program, it brought together fifteen undergraduate students and five graduate students from U of T to excavate these Neolithic settlements and examine the development of the agricultural revolution as it expanded into the peripheral regions of the Near East. The excavations were undertaken in conjunction with the Georgian National Museum, and co-sponsored by the National Wine Agency as part of the larger project sponsored by the Government of the Republic of Georgia entitled “The Popularization of the Georgian Grape and Wine Culture”. Alongside the excavations, a regional survey was initiated by NMC graduate student Khaled Abujayyab which identified an additional 62 settlements ranging in date from the Neolithic to the Medieval period. They will be continuing the excavations in 2018, again as an NMC Archaeological Field School.
As part of the larger project , in the summer of 2017, Stephen Batiuk served as a Supporting Scientific Advisor to the development of the new exhibit entitled “Georgia, Cradle of Viticulture” which was opened at the Bordeaux La Cité du Vin Museum.
In November of 2017, an article co-authored by Stephen was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science presenting the results of cumulative work done by “The Popularization of the Georgian Grape and Wine Culture” project. The article focused on the results of the analysis of material from the GRAPE excavations, which revealed the earliest evidence of wine production in the world. The media coverage of the discovery was extensive and world-wide, ranging from the BBC to the New York Times, National Geographic, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian and CBC. The news was even satirized on the Canadian comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes and briefly on Late Night with Seth Myers.
Peoples of the Hills: the Prehistoric Kura-Araxes Cultural Tradition
In March of 2017, Stephen Batiuk organized and hosted a five day workshop and a one day symposium entitled “Peoples of the Hills: the Prehistoric Kura-Araxes Cultural Tradition”. This event was sponsored by The NMC, The Archaeology Centre, The Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies, The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus. The workshop brought together scholars from Armenia, Israel, Italy, France, the UK and USA to make progress on questions about dating and theoretical frameworks, and to understand if they need to be further explored. Until recently, the data available to scholars did not fit traditional models of cultural evolution developed for contemporaneous cultures of neighboring Mesopotamia and other states. This workshop provided a chance to look at alternative evolutionary pathways and ways of understanding human societal and cultural dynamics in marginal environments, and in regard to migration, culture spread, and ethnic identity. The five day workshop culminated in a one day public symposium where the speakers presented syntheses of their data and some of the new directions stemming from the workshop. The results will be published forthcoming in a PlosOne article, followed by a monograph.
Douglas Frayne Memorial Service:
A memorial service will be held for Dr. Douglas Frayne on Friday January 19 at 12:30 at Bloor Street United Church, 300 Bloor Street West, Toronto. Doug worked as a Professor for the University of Toronto’s Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations since 1980, and worked also as a Researcher and Editor on the Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Project and subsequently on a number of other research projects. He was a passionate teacher and held positions with the Oriental Club of Toronto and the Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies. He will be fondly remembered by family, friends, students and colleagues. Memorial donations in memory of Doug may be made to The MS Society of Canada.
You can share your memories of Doug or express your condolences here
Amir Hassanpour Memorial Lecture
Professor Amir Hassanpour was a prominent scholar of Kurdish and Iranian studies, an inspiring teacher and mentor, and a respected colleague in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto. As a tribute to our colleague and friend, the Department is establishing an annual lecture in his memory and invites you to help fund it with a charitable donation.
Dr. Hassanpour was born in the Kurdish city of Mahabad, in western Iran. He attended the University of Tehran, where he completed a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Linguistics, and became immersed in the Iranian student movement and oppositional politics. Having won a grant to pursue his Ph.D., he left Iran for the University of Illinois. His doctoral dissertation served as the foundation for his seminal book, Nationalism and Language in Kurdistan, published in 1992.
After teaching at the universities of Windsor and Concordia, Dr. Hassanpour moved to Toronto and joined U of T’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations in 1999. At Toronto, Professor Hassanpour became a prolific writer, a highly respected and popular teacher, known for his intellectual generosity, his democratic style of thinking, and an ethos of social responsibility, which he also instilled in his students. He is deeply missed by the NMC community.
Please join us in honouring Professor Hassanpour’s legacy at the University of Toronto by making a donation to the Amir Hassanpour Memorial Lecture Fund. Donations can be made as a one-time gift or a continuing pledge. You may make a gift online, arrange for payroll deductions, or mail a cheque payable to the University of Toronto.
We plan to hold the first annual Amir Hassanpour Memorial Lecture and a special reception in the fall of 2018. We are grateful for your support and hope to see you there.
1. Online at https://donate.utoronto.ca/hassanpour
Please contact Heather McLean, Office of Advancement at 416.978.1844 or email@example.com