A podcast about Arabic and Hebrew language learning, linguistics, and Near Eastern archaeology and history.


  • The Lost Roman Campaign in Arabia

    24/10/2023 Duração: 23min

    Michael Fradley is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford and a landscape archaeologist. He was one of the co-authors of a recent study about how a remote sensing survey in southern Jordan identified at least three Roman military camps that seem to reveal a previously unknown military campaign against the Nabateans. You can find a link to the study here. 

  • The Consuming Fire

    25/07/2023 Duração: 43min

    Liane Feldman discusses her book The Consuming Fire, which presents a complete translation of the Priestly Source of the Bible, offering a distinctive account of the origins of the people of Israel and their relationship with God.  By presenting the complete translation of the Priestly Source without the other sources that are believed to also be part of the compiled Bible as we have it today, the reader is presented with a story that is oftentimes in stark contrast to the traditional reading. Liane is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion and Program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University. You can purchase a copy of The Consuming Fire here.

  • Dysentery in Judah

    26/06/2023 Duração: 34min

    Dr. Piers Mitchell is an Honorary Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge and the lead author of a recent study that analyzed sediments from two latrines from the Kingdom of Judah. The study found  that dysentery was widespread in the ancient capital of Jerusalem.You can read the study at this link.

  • The Wolf King

    20/04/2023 Duração: 48min

    In this episode of the podcast, Abigail Krasner Balbale discusses her book The Wolf King: Ibn Mardanish and the Construction of Power in Al Andalus. The Wolf King explores how political power was conceptualized, constructed, and wielded in twelfth-century al-Andalus, focusing on the reign of Muhammad ibn Sad ibn Ahmad ibn Mardanīsh also known as The Wolf King. Abigail is an Assistant Professor of Islamic History at New York University and her research focuses on the intersection of political power, religious ideology and visual and material culture in the medieval Islamic world.You can purchase a copy of The Wolf King on Amazon.

  • The Origins of Ashkenazim

    14/02/2023 Duração: 37min

    Dr. Shamam Waldman discusses a recent paper she co-authored with her colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that was published in the journal Cell. The study was an effort to sequence the DNA from the remains of Ashkenazi Jews in medieval Europe and focused on a DNA analysis that was done on the extracted teeth of individuals who were buried in a Jewish cemetery in Erfurt, Germany around the 14th century. The findings of the study shed light on where Ashkenazi Jews originated from, how the communities formed, and common genetic traits they shared with modern populations.

  • How The Bible Is Written

    25/10/2022 Duração: 54min

    Professor Gary Rendsburg comes back on the podcast to discuss his book How The Bible Is Written. The book examines the literary aspects of the Hebrew biblical text and highlights the artistry and skill of the biblical authors. How The Bible Is Written is available in a number of stores, including in-person at Barnes & Noble and online at the links below:- Barnes & Noble- Book Depository- HendrickSonrose- Christian Books - Amazon 

  • The Kharijites - Heroes & Villains

    26/07/2022 Duração: 48min

    Hannah-Lena Hagemann is based in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Hamburg University, where she leads a research group on rebellion in early Islam. She is the author of The Kharijites in Early Islamic Historical Tradition which is the first comprehensive literary analysis of the Kharijites’ history as depicted in early Islamic historiography. The book provides a new perspective on early Kharijism and explores their narrative function as rebels and heretics in early Islamic tradition. You can purchase a copy of the book on Amazon here.

  • The Assyrian War Machine

    12/04/2022 Duração: 30min

    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

    05/04/2022 Duração: 01h01min

    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

    22/02/2022 Duração: 55min

    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

    14/12/2021 Duração: 43min

    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

  • Revelation in Islam

    22/09/2021 Duração: 01h36min

    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

    25/05/2021 Duração: 01h14min

    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.

  • The Samaritans

    04/05/2021 Duração: 01h07min

    Matthew Chalmers is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Religious Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Northwestern University’s Department of Religious Studies.  He is a scholar and theorist of religion, working with texts and traditions of the late antique eastern Mediterranean in Greek, Coptic, Aramaic, and Hebrew. In his current book project, The Samaritan Other: Representation, History, and Lost Late Antique Difference, he spotlights the continuous participation of Samaritans – a third Israel – in the historical and cultural processes that defined imperial Christianity and rabbinic Judaism. Our discussion focused on the origins of Samaritan religion and identity and how both Judaism and Christinaity have dealt with the issue of Samaritan claims to the Israelite tradition.

  • The Rise and Fall of Viticulture in The Late Antique Negev Highlands

    17/02/2021 Duração: 49min

    Daniel Fuks is a Newton International Fellow of the British Academy at the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. As a PhD candidate in the Archaeobotany Lab at Bar-Ilan University, he was the leading author of the research study that examined the rise and fall of the Byzantine Negev viticulture. You can find a link to the study here.  Additionally, the Mediterranean Seminar nominated the paper as ‘Article of the Month’ in November 2020 which you can check out here. 

  • Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism

    10/02/2021 Duração: 01h16min

    Sarit Kattan-Gribbetz is an Associate Professor of Theology at Fordham University and the author of Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism, which can be purchased on Amazon. The book explores the rhythms of time that animated the rabbinic world of late antiquity, revealing how rabbis conceptualized time as a way of constructing difference between themselves and imperial Rome, Jews and Christians, men and women, and human and divine. 

  • Playaling

    25/01/2021 Duração: 42min

    Playaling is a language learning platform founded by Jordan Gerstler-Holton, a former Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) fellow and long-time student of Arabic. Playaling is composed of a dedicated team of language professionals making engaging real-world Arabic content available to teachers and students across the globe with a heavy focus on Arabic dialect instruction. Lena Krause, an Arabic teacher at Beacon Academy in Evanston, Illinois, has done a tremendous job creating the North African Darija content on the site. You can access all of Playaling’s Arabic learning materials for free on their website

  • When the Gods Were Born

    24/01/2021 Duração: 48min

    Carolina Lopez-Ruiz is a Professor at Ohio State University in the Classics Department and her research focuses on understanding Greek culture in its broader ancient Mediterranean context. She has authored a number of books on the Phoenician civilization and in this episode we discussed her book When The Gods Were Born - Greek Cosmogonies and the Near East, which examines the links between ancient Greek civilization and Northwest Semitic peoples and how the cultural exchange between the two influenced Greek origin myths. You can purchase a copy of When the Gods Were Born on Amazon.

  • Jewish Languages From A to Z

    16/12/2020 Duração: 48min

    Professors Aaron D. Rubin and Lily Kahn came back on the show to discuss their new book Jewish Languages From A to Z. The book is a comprehensive survey of Jewish languages, covering more than 50 different languages and language varieties and sheds light on the rich variety of languages spoken and written by Jews over the past three thousand years. The book also features a number of photographs of various manuscripts that help bring the languages to life. Aaron D. Rubin is the Malvin E. And Lea P. Bank Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Jewish Studies, and Linguistics at Penn State University and Lily Kahn is a Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Languages at University College London. You can purchase the book on Amazon here

  • Envisioning Islam: Syriac Christians and the Early Muslim World

    13/12/2020 Duração: 49min

    Michael Philip Penn is a professor of religious studies at Stanford University and the author of Envisioning Islam: Syriac Christians and the Early Muslim World as well as the book When Christians First Met Muslims. Professor Penn’s book and research examine Syriac sources to better understand how Christians in the Middle East perceived the early Muslims and in doing so challenge some widespread cultural assumptions about early Christian-Muslim relations.  You can purchase Envisioning Islam on Amazon at this link as well as When Christians First Met Muslims here.

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