This week’s Elections seminar with Professor Lyn Ragsdale has a new time! The October 29 and November 5 sessions of the course remain at 6:30. Please contact us with any questions. Learn more here.
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Rewriting History: The Purposes and Practices of Cultural Destruction in Iraq and Syria
The destruction of a people’s heritage is not a new idea. The Persians razed Athens when they sacked it in 480 BCE; Romans destroyed Carthage with the intention of obliterating culture and the threat of reprisal; Nazis sought not only to remove a people but also their culture in the genocide of the Jews during the Second World War.
In 2017, we have the philosophical framework and the international ethical codes to understand these destructions of materials, not as secondary outcomes of war, but as the purposeful, sinister devices of a people attempting to change—and remove—history. John North Hopkins, our speaker, will focus on the deliberate destruction of the first-century Temple of Bel in Palmyra by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in 2015. As Isis and others hack at statues, explode buildings, and loot untouched archaeological sites, what can we learn about the purposes and practices of cultural destruction?
John North Hopkins joined the art history faculty at Rice University in 2011, specializing in Italic and early Roman art, architecture, and archaeology. He earned a MA in 2004 and a PhD in 2010, both degrees in art history at the University of Texas at Austin. Hopkins’s book, The Genesis of Roman Architecture, was published by Yale University Press in 2015. He has done fieldwork at the Theater of Pompey in Rome and the Basilica di San Severo in Classe, Ravenna.