It’s a great pleasure to introduce the 2017 Spring issue of Mar Shiprim! This issue covers a broad range of important and intriguing topics – all the way from the ongoing civil war in Iraq, through Gilgamesh in modern culture and sexual harassment in the field, to new discoveries at Nigin and new hires in Prague.

As you will have noticed, the newsletter is not published at its usual site, mar-shiprim.org. While still available if you wish to view old content, we are experiencing technical difficulties with the site, and so we’ve temporarily relocated here. We hope the issue will be solved in time for the next issue of the newsletter.

But we begin in Marburg, where Assyriologists from all over the world will be convening next month. Marburg is not just yet another conference venue, it is also a very charming medieval city, with much to offer for those who will stay for a post-Rencontre weekend. Walter Sommerfeld guides us through its history and sights.

Next come the newsletter’s recurring themes. Theodore Ziolkowski reflects on the outstanding position that the Gilgamesh epic holds in popular culture. Ziolkowski offers both some thoughts on why Gilgamesh has proven so influential, and how Assyriologists can best make use of its success. Finally, Davide Nadali and Andrea Polcaro bring news from the field – as their excavation at Tell Zurghul, ancient Nigin, is already yielding fascinating results.

We then have the pleasure of offering our appreciation to a retiring scholar, and our congratulations to a newly hired one. Piotr Michalowski and Jack Sasson look back at their time on the IAA Board with Wilfred van Soldt, who stepped back as veteran IAA Secretary last year. At the other end of the career ladder, we are happy to congratulate Sergio Alivernini, who was recently appointed research fellow at the Oriental Institute in Prague with a project on the administration of Ur III economy.

The issue also deals with more troubling matters – and above all, what we can do to ameliorate them. The British Museum has founded a training programme for Iraqi heritage professionals, so as to prepare them for the complex rescue and retrieval operations that will follow when Daesh is driven from Iraq. Jon Taylor reports on his efforts to help the children affected by the war in Syria and Iraq, by running the distance between his home and Aleppo, to raise funds for the charity War Child. Finally, Beth Alpert Nakhai presents some results from her survey mapping sexual harassment and physical violence on archeological digs. She invites everyone to contribute with their experiences and suggestions.

Last but not least, the issue includes two conference reports, from Barcelona and from Oxford. Here you can read all about gender and sexuality in the ancient world – and about Ann Guinan’s 70th birthday! Or you can read a very full report of the Oxford Postgraduate Conference in Assyriology, introducing the field’s next generation of scholars. As always, the newsletter ends with a list of recent publications in the fields of Assyriology and Mesopotamian Archeology.

The list of publications is updated through the notices sent out on Agade – so if your book that is missing from the list, please let us know! And do let us know if you find any bugs on the site, mistakes in the reports, or faults in the design. The great thing about electronic newsletters is that all such things can be fixed with a few clicks.

The next issue will come out in September, but it already looks set to be a very interesting read. The Spotlight will fall on Cécile Michel’s work in Hamburg, Selena Wisnom will tell how she brought Assyria to the stage, and Jeff Allen will update on the World Monuments Fund’s Future of Babylon-project. We will also tune in with Saana Svärd in Helsinki for exciting news!

But that’s not all – Mar Shiprim is always open for submissions. Do you have happy news to share? A conference you would like to report on? A project you would like to advertise? Or a suggestion for new content? Then send us an email and we will include it in the next issue.

Also, check out Mar Shiprim’s Facebook-page, where you can share and comment on the posts. It’s also a great place to send us suggestions for content!

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