Lectures and Presentations

woman at microphone podium
Amy Gansell (Ghent 2019)


September 23, 2021 (time tba)
QUEEN: Reimagining Power fromAntiquity to the Present, New York University (VIRTUAL for COVID-19)
Ivory Reflections of the Sexual Aspect of Neo-Assyrian Queenship and Imperial Power” Assyrian kings and queens were sexual beings with the duty of producing offspring. Signaling this sexual aspect of imperial power, monumental art aestheticized—arguably sexualized—the physique of the king. In contrast, the body of the more rarely depicted queen was generally obscured in the visual record. Evidence for her sexual aspect may, however, be found in small-scale ivory sculptures depicting fantastical and nude female figures excavated from the main bedroom suite and surrounding residential areas of the Northwest Palace at Nimrud. In the ninth- and eighth-centuries BCE, these ivories adorned furniture and objects that could have passed through royal hands and been contemplated by royal eyes, including those of queens who may have seen themselves in the sculptures. Not only were some figures depicted wearing the same types of necklaces as queens wore, but, also, the ivories were imported from the Levant—the very land from which many Assyrian queens hailed. For a queen, a nude ivory could have called to mind her own body and its sexuality. A king might have conflated the ivories’ sexual allure with that of his queen. Thus, the ivory sculptures could have rendered female sexuality explicit in the palace and in royal life. Considering the iconography and archaeological deposition of the sculptures in relation to royal images, queenly regalia, and palace architecture, the Northwest Palace ivories have the critical potential to illuminate the sexual aspect of Neo-Assyrian queenship and perhaps the sexual bond empowering the imperial couple.

December 9-12, 2021 (exact date tba)
American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) annual conference (VIRTUAL for COVID-19)
The Value and Visualization of Older Age among Neo-Assyrian Queens,” So Wicked and So Wild: Aging, Old Age, and Bodily Representation in the Ancient World and Modern Academy Session


(select presentations — see CV for complete history)

April 24, 2021
Assyrian Studies Association (VIRTUAL for COVID-19)
Interviewed on the Queens of Nimrud by Helen Malko (Columbia University)  https://youtu.be/pXLLuJq1FBs

January 7, 2021
Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) Annual Meeting (VIRTUAL for COVID-19)
“Dr. Al-Gailani Werr and the Iconography of Queen or Goddess on a Seal from the Royal Tombs at Nimrud”
Personal sentiments and reflections in honor of the late Dr. Al-Gailani Werr and a short academic puzzling over the iconography of queen or goddess on a Neo-Assyrian cylinder seal from Nimrud’s Royal Tombs. https://youtu.be/EMp6g_Sd3QA

November 2020
American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) Annual Meeting (VIRTUAL for COVID-19)
“The Formation and Future of the Canon of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeological Sites and Discoveries”
The archaeological “canon” is an established list of objects, monuments, buildings, and sites that are considered most representative of the ancient Near East. Hammurabi’s Code, the Flood Tablet, the biblical sites of Nineveh, Babylon, and Ur, the columned halls of Persepolis…when, how, why, and to what end did these archaeological discoveries become icons of ancient history?  The canon also found its reified resting place in college art history curricula, where it has remained stagnant for nearly a century, while becoming more and more distant from the field of archaeology. Today, both archaeologists and art historians are turning away from the long-established canon. What if the ancient Near Eastern canon itself is buried as colonial detritus, forming a new stratum in modern archaeological and art-historical history? ASOR members can watch the recorded presentation online anytime, and join a Virtual Session Q+A on November 15, 11am-12.

October 2020
Department of Theology, University of Oslo (Norway) (VIRTUAL for COVID-19)
Ancient Attraction is a Digital Lecture Series on Beauty, Attractiveness and Sex Appeal in the Ancient Mediterranean World
“Goddesses as Exemplars for the Beauty and Power of Neo-Assyrian Queens”
The Neo-Assyrian queen stood above all other mortal women. She was a paragon of ideal beauty and imperial power, as expressed through her lavish adornment, personal throne room, monuments, and seals.  Queens engaged in the political, military, economic, and religious affairs of the state. In so doing, they not only emulated the appearance (beauty) of the goddesses they venerated, but they also modeled divine characteristics and agency (power). Without question, goddesses were exemplars for the beauty and power of Neo-Assyrian queens. Watch a video of the talk

April 2020
Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University
“The Ancient Queen who Lost her Earrings and Iraqi Cultural Heritage”
This talk recounts the more recent history of a pair of gold earrings that probably belonged to an Assyrian queen. As in their ancient context, the modern significance of this jewelry goes far beyond aesthetic appeal and material value – the earrings are today emblems of cultural heritage, national identity, and the possibilities of international diplomacy.

March 2020
Ancient and Middle East Seminar, University of Helsinki (Finland)
Neo-Assyrian Queens as Images and Agents of Power” 
Considering Assyrian figural images entailed a metaphysical presence beyond visual appearance and could take many forms, including a person’s physical body, shadow, and portrait, this presentation emphasizes the effusion of queenly images, and the presence and power they conveyed, across royal space, social networks, and dimensions of the universe.

November 2019
American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) Annual Meeting (San Diego)
“Social Network Analysis of Kings, Queens, and Deities in Neo-Assyrian Texts”
This paper presents the results of a Social Network Analysis (SNA) study, which indicates and compares which deities are most commonly associated with kings, queens, and queen mothers in known Neo-Assyrian texts. Such information could potentially help with interpreting the identities of unknown deities associated with royal figures in the visual record and the historical context of the ninth through the seventh centuries BCE.

American Institute of Archaeology, Hunter College (NYC)
Title: “The Beauty and Power of Ancient Assyrian Queens at Nimrud (Iraq)”
Today Nimrud is best known for its kings, their monuments, and (in modern times) the 2015 terrorist obliteration of its excavated Northwest Palace. This talk breathes new life and  perspectives into the palace to illuminate and interpret the stunning regalia and imperial power of the queens who lived and were buried there during the ninth and eighth centuries BCE. 

October  2019
Staten Island Archaeological Society, Wagner College (NYC)
Title: “Dressing Up as an Ancient Assyrian Queen in Life and Death” 
To dress up as an ancient Assyrian queen, a royal woman exercised the privilege of transforming her body into a personification of queenship. Through the visual and material aspects of her dress, a queen embodied an integral part of the empire, and, after her bones had turned to dust, the durable artifacts of her regalia preserved her identity in her tomb and in the afterlife.

October  2019
Ancient Near East Seminar, Columbia University (NYC)
Title: “Beauty and Power in a World of Presence: The Queens of Nimrud’s Northwest Palace”
A discussion of the Neo-Assyrian queens as a visual and physical presence in life and death at Nimrud.

September 2019
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW), NYU (NYC)
Title: “Cultural Heritage, Cultural Property, and Cultural Diplomacy” The terms “cultural heritage,” “cultural property,” and “cultural diplomacy” are familiar and compelling, but whose words are they, what do they really mean, and what are their implications? We will consider the varying scopes of “heritage” and “property” and explore scenarios for their ethical protection, preservation, and stewardship through the international mechanism of cultural diplomacy. 
This lecture is not open to the public.

April 2019
Third Workshop on Gender, Methodology and the Ancient Near East (Ghent, Belgium)
“Images of Divinely Sanctioned Queenship at Nimrud’s Northwest Palace”
This iconographical study of Neo-Assyrian queenship at Nimrud’s Northwest Palace moves beyond the identification of individual figures, to a consideration of the visual representation of queenship as a divinely sanctioned royal office. Watch a video of the talk

November 2018
American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) Annual Meeting (Denver)
“Neo-Assyrian Goddesses in Art and Myth: Eternal Models for the Mortal Queens of Nimrud”
This paper interprets goddesses as personifications of Neo-Assyrian ideals of feminine beauty across categories of age, and, as such, as eternal models for mortal queens.     Watch a video of the talk

November 2017
American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) Annual Meeting (Boston)
“Enthroning the Neo-Assyrian Queen”
The throne room has come to epitomize the Neo-Assyrian palace, and the throne itself has become emblematic of the ruler. However, employing a combination of visual, textual, and archaeological evidence, this paper turns attention to the queen’s throne and her domain of power.

February 2017
Second Workshop on Gender, Methodology and the Ancient Near East (Barcelona, Spain)
“Introducing a Queen to the Virtual Reality Simulation of Nimrud’s Northwest Palace”
By cautiously leaving women out of historical visualizations due to a lack of evidence for them, we have only fed the fallacy of their insignificance or absence in ancient history. Using VR as a means of exploration and experimentation to represent both men and women in a digital simulation of Nimrud’s Northwest Palace, we can demonstrate a more balance, and more accurate, semblance of ancient Assyrian royal life.

November 2015
American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) Annual Meeting (Atlanta)
“Draped Garment Reconstruction from Visual and Material Evidence: A Study of Neo-Assyrian Queenly Dress”
In an effort to fill in the data gaps of Neo-Assyrian queenly dress, I collaborated with fashion design students to create a physical model of a garment based on the archaeological and visual evidence.

December 2014
Scholars’ Day, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC)
“Queenly Jewelry from the Nimrud Tombs as Emblems of Imperial Power and Diplomacy”
A study of the jewelry worn by queens buried in the Nimrud Tombs, and the roles of royal Neo-Assyrian women as emblems of imperial power and diplomacy.

October 2014
First Workshop on Gender, Methodology and the Ancient Near East (Helsinki, Finland)
“An Interdisciplinary Approach to Neo‐Assyrian Queens”
Most of what we know about the royal Neo-Assyrian world is about the kings. Not only were the agendas of early researchers motivated to focus on male histories, but male histories were also the most readily accessible. An interdisciplinary methodology can help to recuperate women’s history by revealing disparate clues in likely and unlikely places.

November 2013
We Remember What We Art, We Are What We Remember: The Value and Power of Memory in the Ancient World International Symposium (La Sapienze, Rome, Italy)
“Aesthetics and the Perfect Memory: The Power of Art as Royal History in the Ancient Near East”
I suggest that it is the office of kingship, fulfilled by a succession of individuals, that is prioritized and aestheticized in art as a perfect memory to be forever visually replicated and physically reenacted as royal Neo-Assyrian history.

March 2013
Social Science and Cultural Studies Department, Pratt Institute (NYC)
“Feminine Beauty and Adornment in Ancient Mesopotamia Illuminated through Near Eastern Cultural Practices of the Twentieth-century to the Present”
In relation to ancient evidence, this paper particularly discusses my field research, conducted in 2003 and 2006, on traditional Syrian bridal costume and earlier ethnographic reports documenting regional values of feminine beauty.                                                     Watch a video of the talk