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The 217th meetings of the American Oriental Society took place in wonderful San Antonio (with the magical River Walk) from March 16-19, 2007. Gonzalo Rubio, Shawkat Toorawa, and Joel Brereton were among those who helped shaped the program nicely. A resolution was passed on safeguarding archaeological sites in Iraq, as follows:

Resolution on Safeguarding Archaeological Sites:
This year's special panel "Where Have all the Tablets Gone?" was organized by Robert Englund and included panelists Jerrold Cooper, Steven Garfinkle, and Micah Garen. Among the news that was generated by the presentation was the information that a relatively modest outlay of funds (about five million dollars) could help protect the more aggressively looted sites (Umma among them). After some discussion and debate, a resolution was formulated that was presented at the business meeting to the membership. The resolution was one vote shy of unanimous passage. It is now posted on the AOS website , and it reads as follows:

"Whereas the looting of ancient sites in Iraq continues in our day with little sign of abatement, leading to incalculable loss of historical and cultural knowledge;

And Whereas diverse archaeological and journalistic organizations have already compiled a register of such affected sites;

And Whereas responsible opinion and evaluation, based on established precedence, have suggested that a relatively modest numbers of guards can discourage if not stop looting at the most distressed archaeological sites in Iraq;

And Whereas the funding of cohorts of guards at Iraqi archaeological sites requires, in present dollars, a relatively modest sum of money;

Therefore, be it Resolved that the American Oriental Society, in meeting assembled at San Antonio, Texas, on March 18th, 2007, calls on and urges the Congress of the United States of America to legislate with dispatch a program to fund the systematic safeguarding of distressed sites until such time as the proper Iraqi authorities are ready to bring such a program under its own control."

All those agreeing with the above resolution are invited to communicate its sentiments to their senators and congressional representatives. You may do this by simply copying it from this website and emailing it to your congressman and/or senator. You may also register your approval by posting your name, address and/or academic affiliation at the link created at the AOS website . Feel free to communicate this information to members of other professional societies to which you may also belong.

Related articles:
"Scholars Debate Stolen Artifacts," Tracy Idell Hamilton

Plenary Session:

An intersectional plenary session had "Sacred Space" as its theme, with contributions by Piotr Michalowski ("Space is the Place: Localizing the Sacred in Ancient Mesopotamia"), Martin Kern ("The Space of the Zhou Ancestral Sacrifice"), Federica Venturi ("Covering Sacred Grounds: Chronicles of Holy Places in Tibetan Literature"), A. Kevin Reinhart ("Mashhad and Haram: Sacred Sites in the Shi`i and Hanbali Cultus"), and Gregory Schopen ("On the Underside of Sacred Spaces: Some Less-Appreciated Functions of Temples, Convents, and Monasteries in Classical India").

Special Presentations:
A number of special sessions included an address (a real treat in fact) by the fabled Inner Asia specialist Denis Sinor, who, in his "Seventy Years among Orientalists" took us on a tour of space, time, and personalities. Professor Joshua Blau (Hebrew University) is the first recipient of the Franz Rosenthal Prize, and he was there to greet us and speak on "Elements of Spoken Aramaic in Early Judeo-Arabic Texts Spelt phonetically."

1. Jerrold Cooper was elected Vice-President of the Society. Effectively he will be presiding at the 2009 Albuquerque AOS.

2. Gregorio del Olmo of the University of Barcelona was elected an Honorary Member of the AOS. The first and last paragraphs of the nominating letter read:

"Gregorio del Olmo has made essential contributions to our understanding of most Northwest Semitic textual corpora, as well as to Semitic lexicography. It is especially his comprehensive work on the mythological and religious compositions from Ugarit that has become a mandatory reference for all scholars in the field. It is difficult to think of a more accomplished scholar in his field than is Professor del Olmo. Yet, let it is also be added that the Society could not be electing a more humane member, for he a Mensch, irenic in temper, friendly, warm, and just the perfect colleague. For these, and many more reasons the Society should feel pleased to invite him as an honorary member."

Future AOS Meetings:
2008: Chicago (March 14-17 at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel); Plenary session theme: "Exile and Banishment"
2009: Albuquerque, New Mexico
2010: St Louis, Missouri

Invitation to Membership
Founded in 1843, the American Oriental Society is the oldest learned society in the United States devoted to a particular field of scholarship. Especially during the current retrenchment in the humanities shortsightedly adopted by the administrators at academic institutions, the AOS commits itself to stimulating appreciation of scholarship and research in its areas of specialties. It needs your support to do so and welcomes your application for membership, for which you gain a copy of its Journal, access to its library, as well as satisfaction for participating in an exemplary forum for research. To join, as well as to encourage others to join, go to:

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Citation: Jack M. Sasson, " On Location at the 2007 American Oriental Society Meeting," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited April 2007]. Online:


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