Amherst, MA -- On Tuesday, April 16, at 4:30 p.m., the Mead will host a slide lecture by Amherst College student Lindsay Oxx '14 about her new research on the museum's renowned Assyrian reliefs. Entitled "The Part and the Whole: An Assyrian Synecdoche," her talk will focus on a puzzling mismatched slab recently recognized in the upper corner of one relief. The presentation is free and open to the public, and coincides with the opening of Mementoes from Mesopotamia
, a new display of 22 Mesopotamian objects from the Mead's collection. The talk will be followed by a reception.
Oxx's talk will explore the mystery of why the relief was incorrectly restored and how the non-joining part went undetected for over 150 years. Oxx will demonstrate how this "alien" element sheds light on the reception and interpretation of these ninth-century-B.C.E. reliefs when they arrived in bucolic Amherst from exotic Mesopotamia in the 1850s.
In January 2013, Oxx reported on her findings as part of the inaugural Undergraduate Paper Session at the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, held in Seattle. Her lecture at the Mead is co-sponsored by the institute's Western Massachusetts Society.
Mementoes from Mesopotamia is on view through July 7 in the museum's Kunian Gallery, near a permanent installation of large Assyrian wall reliefs from the palace of King Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud, Iraq. The display includes cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, clay figurines and fragments of wall reliefs. A cuneiform inscription records the oldest diplomatic treaty known, concerning a truce between the city-states of Lagash and Umma in 2400 B.C.E. The collection of delicately carved cylinder seals, made of marble, serpentine and carnelian, range in date from 2500 to 600 B.C.E. The fragmentary wall reliefs show sections of scenes with warriors and captives, subjects not represented on the Mead's large panels.
Many of the objects in the display came to Amherst College in the mid-19th century, at the same time the wall panels arrived, shipped by Amherst graduates working as doctors and missionaries in the region around Mosul. Oxx's lecture and the new display therefore spotlight an important and intriguing chapter in the history of collecting at the college.