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Professor Roger Matthews and Professor Wendy Matthews

Forming part of the Being Human Festival, this richly-illustrated lecture delivered by Roger and Wendy Matthews will present the latest discoveries from their ongoing excavations at the World Heritage Tentative List site of Bestansur, dating to the Neolithic site of Sheikh-e Abad, 10,000-7,500 BC. Bestansur and Sheikh-e Abad were among the first farming settlements of the Middle East, and excavations there are investigating all aspects of life during the transition from hunting to farming, and from mobile to settled life-ways. A special feature of Bestansur is a large building with more than 70 human individuals buried under the floors, providing a wealth of new information about ancient life and and death during this period. Roger and Wendy will discuss the special experiences, opportunities and pleasures of working in Iraq and Iran with their Iraqi and Iranian colleagues.

Roger and Wendy have co-directed archaeological projects in the Middle East for over 30 years, in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.

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‘Procession, Siege and Flying Heads: The Image of the First Crusade’ – a seminar by Simon Parsons (Royal Holloway). Followed by informal drinks and questions.

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‘Suburban Relapse: British Punk and the Politics of Boredom’ – a seminar by Matthew Worley (Reading)

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By Professor Roger Matthews and Dr Wendy Matthews

Bestansur site in Iraq

The transition of humankind from mobile hunters to settled farmers after the Ice Age is a period in history still shrouded in mystery. Very little evidence exists to shed light on what life was like in the world’s first villages in the Middle East 12,000 to 9,000 years ago.

But our archaeological research, carried out in collaboration with local communities in Iraq and Iran, is uncovering clues that will help us understand how ancient civilisations developed. We will be presenting our findings at a public lecture on Wednesday 22 November, as part of the national Being Human Festival.

Earlier this year, we conducted excavations and interdisciplinary research at the Neolithic site of Bestansur, in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is in the eastern Fertile Crescent – one of the areas of the Middle East where farming originated. Our aim is to learn more about how humans first started farming in this region, taking steps towards a more domesticated lifestyle.

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‘Passionate, eloquent, and determined: A new look at medieval heroines’ – a seminar by Helen Cooper (Cambridge). Followed by informal drinks and questions.

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We are proud to present this ‘in conversation’ style event with University of Reading Alumna Alice Mpofu-Coles as part of the University’s events to celebrate Black History Month.

Alice is a former Zimbabwean diplomat, was herself a refugee, is a former Chairwoman of the Reading Refugee Support Group and has been honoured for her work to improve perceptions of refugees through projects, talks and writing.

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A multi-media installation created by Dr Teresa Murjas, Associate Professor in the Department of Film, Theatre & Television has inspired the work of The National Archives, Kew and its national Explore Your Archive campaign (18-28 November 2017).

The film, sound and object-based installation – The First World War in Biscuits – is an interpretation of one of the archives held at Reading Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL). In August 2017 Teresa welcomed colleagues from The National Archives (TNA), together with The Great British Bake-off finalist, Miranda Gore-Brown, to Reading. She gave them a tour of Reading Museum and the MERL, where she had selected archival materials and artefacts from the Huntley & Palmers collection for them to view.

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‘Gratian and the Jews’ – a seminar by Anna Abulafia (Oxford). Followed by informal drinks and questions.

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‘Family, Conquests and the Appeal of the First Crusade’ – a seminar by Lars Kjaer (New College of Humanities)

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Suffrage is arguably the most important single event in women’s history; despite popular conception it was not a fight for freedom, it was the campaign for equal citizenship waged by men and women across the class divide and the political spectrum. The refusal of the law to allow women to take part directly in political life relegated them to often disparate lobbyists and pressure groups, leaving the decision to grant the vote at the mercy of sympathetic individuals and the political priorities of the parliamentary parties. This lecture will consider the parliamentary politics, the campaigns and divisive issues of class, marriage and militancy that fractured the suffrage movement and ultimately, we will ask the question – is this best described as first wave feminism?

Dr Jacqui Turner is a Lecturer in Modern History and Director of Outreach at the University of Reading. Her present research examines the contribution of female pioneers in politics and early female MPs. Jacqui currently works with Parliament on the Vote100 Project, BBC Radio 4 and the Smithsonian. In 2019 she will manage the Astor100 project celebrating the centenary of women sitting in the House of Commons.

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