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Royal Mesopotamian Feast

Feasting, The Taste of Power - A Royal Mesopotamian Feast

Presented by Archaeological Institute of America, Houston and Arab-American Educational Foundation at Cafe Byblos Restaurant

May 4, 2010

The Archaeological Institute of American, Houston presented "Feasting, The Taste of Power - A Royal Mesopotamian Feast," Tuesday, May 4 at 7pm at Cafe Byblos, 6134 Richmond. Featuring Dr. Lauren Ristvet, Dyson Chair, The University of Pennsylvania.

"It's wonderful to be king! Forget long, drawn-out foreign wars or costly construction programs, one Mesopotamian king chose another strategy to strengthen royal power: feasting! He hosted a mind-boggling spread for 69,574 of his most special friends that included 1,000 oxen, 1,000 calves, 14,000 sheep, 1,000 lambs, and 10,000 fish. Then he commemorated royal largesse on a stele to remind everyone of a memorable day of gluttony.

While we won't duplicate such extravagance at our dinner, we will learn about the nature of food and feasting in ancient Mesopotamia and how feasting was an important part of ancient politics. Lauren Ristvet, a young rising star from the prestigious archaeology program at the University of Pennsylvania, will lead us on our culinary journey."

Cosponsored by The Arab-American Educational Foundation.

May 4, 2010


May 4, 2010 - Mesopotamian Feast Lecture

Co-Sponsored with Archaeological Institute of America Houston Chapter

Standard of Ur - Mesopotamian Ancient Feast

July 2, 2010, Makdisi Op-Ed


Understanding past could help restore U.S.-Arab ties

A year after Barak Obama's Cairo speech, the dialogue between the Arab world and America is nowhere to be seen or heard. As the bloody events of last month have demonstrated, the Arab-Israeli conflict constantly upstages and undermines even the best-intentioned American diplomacy in the Arab world. The quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq and the tension between the United States and Iran do not help.

Read more ...

August 2010: New Book by Makdisi


Ussama Makdisi has published a new book, Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of US-Arab Relations 1820-2001. It is available for purchase on Amazon. Click on the image to find a review and an excerpt.













October 2010: Poet Adonis

The October events with the poet, Adonis, were well-attended. Participants reported that they greatly enjoyed the poetry reading, interpretation, and talks. Read more information about the event on the Calendar page under 2010 News and Events.

View the video of the special poetry reading at Rothko Chapel that was held on October 20, 2010. This video is the introduction. To view more, check back for links as additional sections of the evening's video tape are available.


Part I of the Video:

Part II

Part III

Poet Adonis on the Need for an Arab Revival


Special Lecture: Poet Adonis on the Need for an Arab Revival    

Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 2:00 p.m.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Brown Auditorium Theater

This program is open to the public and free with general museum admission. If you are not a museum member, please print this website article (by clicking on the printer icon at the lower right of this article or by clicking File > Print on the Menu Bar at the top of your screen) and bring it with you to receive complimentary museum admission. Seating for this program is limited.

This program is generously co-sponsored by the Arab American Educational Foundation.
This program is presented in Arabic and English. Simultaneous translation provided.

A reception and book signing follow the program. Adonis´s newly released English-language anthology, Adonis: Selected Poems, will be for sale in the MFAH Retail Store.

Nominated three times for the Nobel Prize, Adonis has been called "today´s most daring and provocative Arab poet," while his influence on Arabic literature has been likened to that of T. S. Eliot´s on English-language verse, and to David Hume on Western philosophical thought.

Adonis has written extensively on the need to change the framework of both thinking and reasoning in the Arab world in order to stop the disintegration of Arab culture. In his own poetry—which is experimental in form and prophetic in tone—Adonis breaks with tradition to liberate his work from the chains of the "text".

In this rare Houston appearance, Adonis addresses the factors that hinder intellectual advancement in the Arab world, and why a new way of thinking is not an option, but an urgent necessity.

Adonis has written more than 20 books in his native Arabic, including the pioneering work An Introduction to Arab Poetics. Adonis received the Bjørnson Prize in 2007, the first International Nâzim Hikmet Poetry Award, the Syria-Lebanon Best Poet Award, and the highest award of the International Poem Biennial in Brussels. He lives in Paris.

Please print and bring this website article for free admission to the museum in order to enter the building where the lecture will take place.


Syrian poet and literary critic, Adonis, or 'Ali Ahmad Sa'id,  has studied and taught in several countries over the many and rich years of his literary career. His poetry and other writings have had a tremendous influence as an example of modernist Arabic writing. In his writings, the reader will find a combination of the spiritual, the political, and both the traditional and the modern.

His work, Aghani Mihyar al-Dimashqi (1961), has been termed a turning-point for Adonis and for modern Arabic poetry as a whole. Many view this work as his finest, although subsequent work is deemed richer and more experimental.