The Levantini Podcast is a show about Near Eastern history, language, religion and culture. We speak with academics and experts on a variety of topics, both ancient and modern.
The Assyrian War Machine
Professor Yosef Garfinkel is a Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yigael Yadin Chair in Archaeology of Israel. In 2021 he was one of the authors of a study published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology which examines how the Assyrian army laid siege to the town of Lachish in Judah in 701 BC. Specifically, the study examines how the Assyrian army constructed an impressive siege ramp in under a month and were confronted with unique conditions. The remnants of the Assyrian siege ramp remain at the site and it’s the oldest known siege ramp in the Near East and the only one known to have been discovered from the military conquests of the Assyrian empire.
Revelation & Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition
Professor Benjamin Sommer is an American biblical scholar and Jewish theologian. He’s a Professor of Bible at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and a Senior Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. Professor Sommer is the author of the book Revelation & Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition, which examines how the biblical authors conceived of the revelation at Sinai as both a collaborative and participatory event. You can find a link to purchase his book on Amazon here.
The Middle Maccabees
Andrea Berlin is the James R. Wiseman Chair in Classical Archaeology and a Professor of Archaeology and Religion at Boston University. Her research focuses on the archaeology and history of the Achaemenid, Hellenistic, and Roman East, Ceramic Studies, Second-Temple Judaism, and the archaeology of Israel. In this episode, we discuss the book The Middle Maccabees of which she is a co-editor and a contributing author. The book examines the beginnings of the independent Jewish state founded in the second century BCE and frames it within the wider world of conflicts between the Ptolemies of Egypt, the Seleucids of Syria, and the Romans. You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon.
The Bar Kokhba Revolt
Professor Boaz Zissu is an archaeologist and a member of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University. He has authored and collaborated on numerous studies of the Bar Kokhba Revolt including co-authoring the book The Bar Kokhba Revolt: The Archaeological Evidence. We discuss the background to the revolt, its scale and administration, and its ultimate demise. You can purchase a copy of the book at this link and can find Professor Zissu's lectures on YouTube and his research on Academia.edu.
Revelation in Islam
Khalil Andani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Augustana College and holds a Ph.D. In Islamic Studies from Harvard University. Professor Andani’s dissertation “Revelation in Islam: Qur’anic, Sunni, and Shi‘i Ismaili Perspectives” won the 2020 Best PhD Dissertation of the Year Award from the Foundation for Iranian Studies. In this episode of the podcast, we discuss his dissertation, which is a historical investigation of Islamic theologies of revelation in the formative and classical periods of Islam and argues that Sunni and Shi’i Muslims understood Qur’anic Revelation through competing and often mutually contradictory models constructed within different historical and theological contexts. You can check out Professor Andani's lectures on YouTube.
Divorcing Lilith: From the Babylonian Incantation Bowls to the Cairo Genizah
Gideon Bohak is a Professor in the Department of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud at Tel Aviv University. He is a specialist in Jewish magic, especially in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and in the study of the Cairo Genizah. Professor Bohak came back on the show to discuss a paper he co-authored titled Divorcing Lilith: From the Babylonian Incantation Bowls to the Cairo Genizah. We talked about the transmission of Jewish magical recipes from incantation bowls in Sasanian Iran to those found later in the Cairo Genizah and we also discussed the character of Lilith and her place in the pantheon of Jewish demonology. You can purchase Professor Bohak's book Ancient Jewish Magic on Amazon.
Check out our previous podcast with Professor Bohak for a good primer on Jewish Magic in Late Antiquity.