Attendance at the conference is free, but registration is necessary as we have limited space. Register by sending an email to Laerke Recht (lr459@cam.ac.uk).

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Fierce lions, angry mice and fat-tailed sheep: Animal encounters in the ancient Near East

The theme of this conference is the relationships between humans and the environment, with particular focus on interactions with other animals. Animals have always been an integral part of human existence; in the ancient Near East, this is evident in the record of excavated assemblages of faunal remains, iconography and texts. Domesticated animals had great impact on social, political and economic structures – for example cattle in agriculture and diet, or donkeys and horses in transport, trade and war. Fantastic mythological beasts such as lion-headed eagles or lamassu were part of religious beliefs and myths, while exotic creatures such as lions were part of elite symbolling from the 4th millennium BC onward. In some cases, animals also intruded on human lives in unwanted ways by scavenging or entering the household; this especially applies to small or wild animals.

The aim of this conference is to have a broad representation of these varied relationships, including large and small, wild and domesticated animals, and the many ways in which they connect with human lives. The core regional and temporal focus will be Mesopotamia from the 4th through 1st millennia BC. The basis for presentations can be texts, iconography or faunal analysis, and interdisciplinary approaches are especially encouraged.