Thin End of the Wedge

A weekly History, Education and Arts podcast
Good podcast? Give it some love!

Episodes of Thin End of the Wedge

Mark All
Search Episodes...
Many of us have spent a lot of time at home this year. What would that have been like in ancient Babylon? Heather talks about housing in the first millennium BC. What were houses like, who lived in them, and how did they use them? She discusses what houses meant to Babylonians, and how they were split and reconstituted by the family.  2:34 where was housing in the city?4:13 where did people want to live?6:42 did houses have kerb appeal?8:54 a typical house12:17 how rooms were used15:13 who lived in a typical house?18:09 keeping a family home22:04 what about water?26:01 how did you find where someone lived?   Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
Jaafar explains his love for the ancient waterways of southern Iraq. He tells us why they are so important, and what they can tell us about life in ancient Iraq. How do you find ancient waterways? And how do you investigate them?  2:44 Jaafar's interest in waterways4:26 why are they important?6:35 what they can tell us11:39 the relationship between sites and waterways17:06 how to study waterways21:36 collaborations Twitter: Facebook: Publications:  University website:  Nahrein Network: Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
21. Fabienne Huber Vuillet: Meanings from the mundaneFabienne introduces us to the Mesopotamian science of predicting the future based on things that happened during daily life. What might have meaning, and how would you find it? Who used this kind of expertise? And was there anything you could do to change the future predicted for you? 2:34 omens from daily life5:20 what had meaning10:20 how did divination worked16:49 who used the omens19:51 could you change the future?25:15 how the mass of knowledge was organised Project site: Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
Xiaoli introduces us to silver in the Sumerian city of Umma. She explains where it came from and how people got hold of it. Who was able to use it and what for? She tells us how we might understand whether it could be called money. And explains the physical form in which silver circulated. 5:42 What is money?8:46 Who used silver?13:00 How they got silver16:55 Did silver actually circulate?22:26 How was value set?Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon:  
19. Shiyanthi Thavapalan: Colour in Mesopotamia Shiyanthi throws light on how colour was interpreted in Mesopotamia. What cultural meanings were attached to colours? What was the relation between materials and colours? She explains where they sourced their pigments and how they made paints.   2:26 Mesopotamia as a colourful place6:01 How they saw colour12:00 How we know about colour14:47 Materials and colour16:56 Sources of pigments21:56 Experimental archaeology23:33 The meaning of colours Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
18. Carmen Gütschow: Archaeological conservationCarmen introduces the work of an archaeological conservator. She discusses the issues that arise in different materials, and the range of treatments and tools she uses. What are the pressures of conservation work on an archaeological site? And what does she do differently in Europe and the Middle East. As an expert in treating cuneiform tablets, Carmen explains about firing and salts. 3:03 what a conservator does4:23 ceramics7:38 organics and humidity8:54 metals11:40 work on an archaeological site versus work in a lab13:38 work in the Middle East16:23 cuneiform tablets17:42 firing tablets21:46 preserving original condition24:37 working in museumsCarmen’s book Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg/Excavation in Assur and Bakr Awa and Ninive in Iraq/Kurdistan Shamlu Archaeological Mission (SAM) is part of the DFG Emmy Noether project "Flight - Migration - Interaction. Artefact related diversity in Ancient Near Eastern contexts of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC" LMU/ Iran. Das elamische Archiv aus Goshtaspi. Staatliche VerwaltungSippar library/ Baghdad, Iraq. „Electronic Babylonian Literature“ (Professor Enrique Jiménez). Hilprecht collection, Friedrich-Schiller University Jena •••  /Uruk-Warka collection, Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg• iDAI.publications: › efb › article › download•öhl-Collection NINO /Leiden, Netherlands•• Berlin “Das Vorprojekt BABylo-tec”. Erinnerung an das ende der deutschen Babylon- ExpeditionMuseum of Islamic art Berlin/ Afghanistan. A museum project in Herat Afghanistan••• of Islamic art Berlin/ Karachi, Pakistan. A project and exhibition in KarachiA new museum project in Yazd•••• by Ruba HillawiWebsite: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: htt
17. Strahil Panayotov: Assyrian eye medicineStrahil explains how Assyrian medicine worked. Who were the doctors and what did they do? Would their treatments have been effective? He discusses the problems caused by taxonomy. Different ideas about the human body and the diseases affecting it make it more difficult for us to understand Assyrian medicine. One of our most important sources is a newly reconstructed reference work, The Nineveh Medical Encyclopaedia. 2:46 Assyrian doctors5:24 how medicine worked8:44 eye problems and their treatment12:25 the problem of taxonomy15:25 about our sources17:30 the Nineveh Medical Encyclopaedia BabMed:’s Academia: Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
Ilgi and Selim explain their collaborative project to document and eventually publish an important group of texts from Turkish-sponsored excavations at Sippar in the late 19th century. They discuss the number and content of these tablets, and how they came to Istanbul. What are the project’s aims and what progress has been made so far?  5:07 About the Project5:47 Why Sippar?7:27 About the tablets9:25 How they came to Istanbul13:15 Results and further goals18:45 Wider dissemination20:56 Mesopotamia in schools  Sevin Kutlu and Teoman Duralı's translation based on N.K. Sandars's translation: Gılgamış Destanı (The Gilgamesh Epic)Muazzez İlmiye Çığ, Gilgameş. Tarihte İlk Kral Kahraman (Gilgamesh. The First Hero King in History)Sait Maden, Gılgamış Destanı (The Gilgamesh Epic)Orhan Suda's translation of Jean Bottéro's translation, Gılgamış Destanı. Ölmek İstemeyen Adam (The Gilgamesh Epic. The Man Who Does Not Want To Die)Muzaffer Ramazanoğlu, 2010, Gılgamış Destanı (The Gilgamesh Epic) ilgigercek (at) (at) by Ruba HillawiWebsite: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
Daniel Nicky explains how he uses music to help teach school children about history. His Mesopotamia song has been incredibly successful. How does he do it, and what does it take? His work with youth groups in West Java may offer inspiration for engaging youth in the Middle East. 03:15 origins of the Mesopotamia Song06:43 why it’s popular10:00 the Mesopotamia Song13:41 making the Song16:22 researching the Song23:37 plans for the future27:09 working with youth groups  The Mesopotamia SongMr Nicky's World History Songs Music by Ruba Hillawi  Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
Aaron discusses the ideas from his new book, The Idols of Isis: from Assyria to the Internet. The ISIS video of men smashing statues in Mosul Museum reminded him of a lost scene from Sargon’s palace. What are images? Why do we need them? Can they ever be anything other than incomplete and imperfect? And does that matter?2:53 images, idolatry and iconoclasm5:39 meanings of images in relation to Iraqi heritage9:09 ISIS videos 12:44 Sargon of Assyria and ancient iconoclasm17:52 virtuous iconoclasm?21:55 how museums might display meanings Idols of Isis is available from the University of Chicago Press:   Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon:   
Nicolò discusses the work of the Iraqi-Italian team at the site of Nineveh in 2019 and 2020. What is the situation at Nineveh now? How has the site been affected in recent years? New research has revealed new information and insights. But far more importantly, Nicolò discusses the forms that archaeology can take, and why it is done.  2:24 about Nineveh6:51 new work at Nineveh9:55 what archaeology means at Nineveh20:32 collaboration with SBAH26:28 why this work, at Nineveh, now?30:45 archaeological park36:41 engaging communities Academia: University page: Researchgate: EDUU: Barry McGuire - Eve Of Destruction:  Music by Ruba Hillawi  Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
Gojko reveals the amazing scale and scope of international trade in the ancient Middle East. And the incredible detail in which we can study it. The Assyrian trade network was not the exception we used to think it was. The traders’ business records document a system that has much to offer wider historical study. 2:39 what is trade?5:10 about the Old Assyrian Colony Period9:31 what the ancient archives tell us12:49 was Assur normal or exceptional?17:44 the significance of the scope and scale of the trade21:52 who were these traders?30:43 the relation between trade and political organisation  Academia: University page:  Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
Carlos introduces us to the social setting of Mesopotamian maths. What form did maths take? Who used it and what for? Are Mesopotamian practices related to what we know from other ancient cultures, or from the modern world? Carlos explains how our understanding of Mesopotamian maths has changed over the years.Academia:    2:19 about Mesopotamian maths5:34 the oldest maths10:10 connections to other ancient cultures, and to the modern world14:57 how they wrote numbers17:22 how Mesopotamians thought about numbers23:51 changing modern understandings of Mesopotamian maths28:42 Carlos' workMusic by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
Licia talks about her work at the Sumerian site of Abu Tbeirah in southern Iraq. She explains what the burials found there, and elsewhere in Iraq, tell us about the beliefs and practices of the Sumerians. Why are bodies oriented to the western horizon? And why are the heads sometimes missing?  2:25 about Abu Tbeirah3:14 why excavate at Abu Tbeirah?6:50 where were the dead buried?14:56 the orientation of bodies18:18 grave goods21:10 after death24:58 how burials are excavated  Academia: ResearchGate: Facebook: Instagram:   Music by Ruba Hillawi  Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon:   
Elisa talks about terracottas as physical images. What different sorts are there? What images were popular? She tackles the difficult questions of who used them, and what for. What do broken examples tell us? And she explains how we understand the meaning of ancient images.  3:05 what is a terracotta?9:24 what kinds of terracotta are there?11:36 what images were popular?13:11 how were terracottas used?17:52 how do discover the meaning of terracottas?22:51 what was the significance of breaking terracottas?24:35 how to follow Elisa’s work  University page: Academia: Twitter:  ACAWAI-CS:   Music by Ruba Hillawi  Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon:  
Saber talks about his work recovering the text of the Elamite version of the trilingual inscription at Behistun. This is cuneiform’s equivalent of the Rosetta Stone. It was created at the end of the 6th century BC for Darius the Great of Persia. It has long been famous, but there is still more to learn about it.  3:39 introducing Behistun6:13 the 3 languages9:23 Behistun or Bisitun?10:34 knowledge of Behistun13:21 why new work is needed16:16 Saber’s work20:09 future plans23:43 Behistun and Elamite in Iran  You can find Saber here:Academia: Facebook: Twitter:   Music by Ruba Hillawi  Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon:  
Dahlia explains all about Anzu, the thunderbird. Who was he? How did his character change? Why was everyone so taken by the Tablet of Destinies? What does his story tell us about the Mesopotamian relationship to the world?  2:59 who is Anzu?4:28 Anzu’s story12:00 the Tablet of Destinies15:59 how Ninurta defeated Anzu17:30 the different Anzus26:35 what’s new?  Dahlia's university staff page: Dahlia's Academia: Music by Ruba Hillawi  Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon:  
Paul explains the thinking behind traditional displays. He then guides us through the new displays at the Ashmolean. What is he doing differently? What does the future of display look like?2:09 traditional displays4:55 the role of aesthetics8:14 temporary exhibitions versus permanent displays12:53 flexible displays17:37 catering for senses other than sight21:47 technology24:18 terminology25:51 Owning the Past: from Mesopotamia to Iraq28:32 new galleries at the Ashmolean37:41 skill-sharing with Iraqi colleagues39:39 how to follow Paul’s workAshmolean for All blog: Nahrein Networks:  Paul’s Twitter :  Music by Ruba Hillawi  Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon:  
Jacob and Rients discuss their collaboration on texts from a site housing soldier-gardeners. Who were they and what were they doing there? How can archaeology help make sense of tablets looted a century ago? What is the situation today?  03:12 Where is Tell Abu Antiq?04:34 What does the name Abu Antiq, and the ancient name Pi-Kasi, mean?07:09 Connecting tablets old and new.08:50 The finds from Abu Antiq.11:00 Progress so far.11:45 “Gardeners”.17:09 How to connect tablets to archives.19:49 Importance of archaeological context.22:44 The end of Pi-Kasi.25:17 Plans for the future. Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube: Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
16/10/2020Thin End of the WedgeEpisode 4: Gina Konstantopoulos: A demon haunted worldGina guides us through the family of demons. Who were they? What did they do, and why? How could tell if a demon had possessed someone. And what could you do about it? Hear the words of anti-demon spells.  02:47 What was a demon?07:04 Pandemonium! And demonic warfare. Pazuzu and Lamashtu.13:26 Where they live.15:10 Why demons attack.18:37 How to fight demons. Exorcists and magic.28: 49 Plans for the future. Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube:   Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon:   
12/10/2020Thin End of the WedgeRichard explains what we know about music from Mesopotamia, and how we know it. Hear his reconstruction of a Hurrian song that’s more than 3000 years old. He talks about his work with colleagues in the Middle East, using music to drive positive change.  2:41 How do we know anything at all about music in Mesopotamia?6:00 Babylonian system of music12:10 What kind of music do we know about? Are they solo works or were there orchestras? 15:16 What kinds of instrument did they have?21:10 the Hurrian hymn25:17 What do we know about the musicians? Who were they? What training did they have?27:12 plans for the future28:47 the cultural festivals at Babylon Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube:   Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
09/10/2020Thin End of the WedgeJana Matuszak reveals the secrets of ancient texts describing how not to be a woman. Some of these texts have lain unread for almost 4000 years. She brings Sumerian literature to life. What do they tell us about the expectations placed on women in ancient Iraq? 2:43 What do these texts sound like? 4:38 About Sumerian7:12 Introducing the texts: how many are there, and what happens in them?13:16 Why are they fragmentary?15:41 Is this reality?24:51 Who was the ideal Sumerian woman?27:43 Is it misogyny?30:49 Research progress Jana’s personal page at SOAS: Academia page with copies of articles: Twitter: @JanaMatuszak Jana’s book will be available through To join the staging of “Two Women B” in English and Arabic, sign up via Eventbrite: ORACC is at:  Jana’s translations are not yet available, but you’ll find all sorts of other interesting texts there in the meantime.  Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube:   Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: 
05/10/2020Thin End of the WedgeEpisode 1: Laith Hussein: Tell Harmal, heart of EshnunnaLaith Hussein talks about a key centre in the kingdom of Eshnunna. Eshnunna was one of several rival kingdoms fighting for supremacy in Iraq about 4000 years ago. What was found, and what work is being done? 3:06 about the site of Tell Harmal. Where is it? How big is it? When was it excavated? What was its ancient name?7:54 what ancient texts have been found there?13:01 how the archaeological remains and texts relate to each other. The production of huge numbers of bricks.15:54 what language are the texts in? And what do they talk about?17:36 what do they tell us about life in ancient Iraq?21:00 any plans for new excavations?Music by Ruba Hillawi Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube:   Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod  Patreon: The article Dr Laith mentioned is: "Bauplanung und Administration in altbabylonischer Zeit: ein Tonbullen-Archiv aus Tell Harmal (Shaduppum)", in Kaskal 9 (2012), pp. 3-29A brief report on the 1997-1998 excavations is available in English. The Iraqi scholars Dr Laith mentions as having worked on tablets from Tell Harmal are:Basima Jalil Abed, Unpublished Cuneiform Texts from the Old Babylonian Period in the Iraq Museum. Masters dissertation, Baghdad University (in Arabic). 1998Khalid al-A’dami, Some Old Babylonian Letters in the Iraq Museum. PhD dissertation. 1971Abdulkarim  Abdullah Ahmed, Old Babylonian Loan Contracts in the Iraq Museum from Tell al-Dhiba’i and Tell Harmal. Masters dissertation, Baghdad University (= OBLC). 1964Saad Salman Fahad, Cuneiform Texts from the Old Babylonian Period, Diyala Region, Tell Harmal. Masters dissertation, Baghdad University (in Arabic). 1996Ahmad Hamid Majeed, Studies of Unpublished Old Babylonian Cuneiform Texts from the Diyala Region, Tell Harmal. Masters dissertation, Baghdad University (in Arabic). 1990        Ridha al-Hashimi, Some Old Babylonian Purchase Contracts in the Iraqi Museum from Harmal and Dhiba’i (OBPC). Masters dissertation, Baghdad University (in Arabic). 1964Menshed Mutlaq Menshed, Unpublished Cuneiform Texts from the Old Babylonian Period, Diyala Region, Tell Harmal. Masters dissertation, Baghdad University (in Arabic). 1997 Ahmad Kamil Muhammed, Unpublished Old Babylonian Letters in the Iraq Museum. PhD dissertation, Baghdad University (in Arabic). 1996Amir Suleiman, A Study of Land Tenure in the Old Babylonian Period with Special Reference to The Diyala Region, Based on Published and Unpublished Texts (= SLTOB). PhD dissertation, University of London. 1966Amir Suleiman, Harvest Documents and Loan Contracts from the Old Babylonian Period, Sumer 34/I-II (1978), pp. 130-138
Hello! And welcome to Thin End of the Wedge. This episode explains what the podcast is about, and how and why I brought it to life. Thin End of the Wedge explores life in the ancient Middle East. There are many wonderful stories we can tell about those people, their communities, the gritty reality of their lives, their hopes, fears and beliefs. We bring you expert insights and the latest research in clear and simple language. We won’t talk to you like you’re stupid. But you won’t need any special training to understand what we’re talking about. 0:12 Welcome! Host Jon Taylor introduces the Thin End of the Wedge podcast2:08 Why Thin End of the Wedge, and why now? Music by Ruba Hillawi.  Website: http://wedgepod.orgYouTube:  Email: Twitter: @wedge_pod Patreon: 
Rate Podcast

Share This Podcast

Recommendation sent

Join Podchaser to...

  • Rate podcasts and episodes
  • Follow podcasts and creators
  • Create podcast and episode lists
  • & much more

Podcast Details

Created by
Jon Taylor
Podcast Status
Sep 23rd, 2020
Latest Episode
Mar 24th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
31 minutes

Podcast Tags

Do you host or manage this podcast?
Claim and edit this page to your liking.
Are we missing an episode or update?
Use this to check the RSS feed immediately.