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The Dyakonov Readings scholarly conference


On 4 and 5 April 2023, the Hermitage hosted the Dyakonov Readings, a scholarly conference named in honour of the great Russian Assyriologist and Semitologist Igor Mikhailovich Dyakonov (1915–1999), an encyclopaedic specialist in the history and philology of Mesopotamia and the whole Middle East.

Opening the conference, Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, said that preserving the memory of scholars who have gone before us is a Hermitage tradition. In recent times, there has been much debate about what precisely should be termed Oriental Studies. An example of true Oriental Studies is this conference in which there is room for questions about the philology, history and archaeology of the Ancient East. The conference-goers received a gift from the Hermitage in the form of the museum’s recently opened permanent display of Ancient Writings of the Near and Middle East that is dedicated to the memory of the outstanding collector of such artefacts Nikolai Petrovich Likhachev (1862–1936), and the great cause that he served.

In keeping with tradition, the papers presented at the conference examined various aspects of Assyriology. The range of subjects corresponded to the breadth of Igor Dyakonov’s scholarly interests: economics and social institutions, grammar and lexicography, literature and history, the publication of new texts and fresh readings of works already in scholarly circulation. A special report was devoted to the results of the recent excavations by a Russian expedition in southern Iraq.

The Readings were organized by the State Hermitage in conjunction with the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Manuscripts. Participating in the conference were specialists from the Hermitage and Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art, staff from research and higher educational institutions in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, students from Saint Petersburg State University.

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