Talk on creation, cosmos and ecology

Professor Martin Klingbeil, front, an an archaeological digging site.

Professor Martin Klingbeil from the United States will be presenting an illustrated public lecture on Biblical Archaeology, at Helderberg College in Somerset West, on Saturday June 30, at 4pm.

He is no stranger to South Africa, having completed his doctorate in Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Stellenbosch University under the guidance of Professor Sakkie Cornelius.

In his lecture, Professor Klingbeil will tell the story of creation, cosmos, and ecology through the lense of one of the most fascinating – yet also smallest – artifacts to be found in archaeological excavations, namely, ancient seals.

On a space, not much bigger than a human thumbnail (and sometimes even smaller), ancient craftsmen and artists were able to recreate a world in miniature that is loaded with political, economic, and religious meaning.

More than 10 000 stamp seals from legal excavations in Palestine/Israel have been unearthed – not including about 500 cylinder seals, unnumbered seals in private collections, over half a million clay tablets (many of them bearing seal impressions), and seal impressions on jar handles – so that an estimated total of 100 000 seals can be associated with the lands of the Bible.

Professor Klingbeil will introduce listeners to the wide variety of forms and shapes of ancient seals, as well as their geographical and chronological distribution throughout the ancient Near East.

Mesopotamian and Egyptian cosmologies will be contrasted with the biblical worldview and how the big questions of life are looked at through ancient eyes: Where do we come from? How does this world work?; and How can we interact with an environment that is progressively threatened?

These are questions a millennial could have asked-and yet, they were also questions that moved people living in the ancient Near East in biblical times.

Illustrations will be shown how seals were used in daily ancient life, how documents were sealed, property secured, and authority transferred.

Slides to be shown will include a rock crystal cylinder seal from Akkad, an ancient Mesopotamian empire (ca. 2300 BC) showing an intricate animal combat scene that portrays the subduing of the wild through both human and divine intervention; a red glazed scarab that bears the throne-name of Thutmose III (1504 to 1450 BC), who can possibly be identified with the pharaoh of the Exodus from Egypt; and a scaraboid made from orange carnelian that bears the inscription “belonging to Ushna, servant of Ahaz”, which refers to the name of a Judean king, Ahaz (735 to 716 BC) mentioned in the Bible.

Admission is free, and no booking is required. For information, call 021 855 1312 or 082 881 4982, or email