The 2014 Dialogue of Civilizations is kicking off in Istanbul this weekend, bringing together archaeologists and other experts in five of the world’s great ancient civilizations. For the next week, they will converse with each other and the public, learning more about these cultures and thinking about what they can still teach us today.
Travel writer and host of the National Geographic Weekend radio show Boyd Matson’s persistence paid off when he gained access to the top of one of the usually off-limits minarets of the Blue Mosque in 2012. (Photo by Boyd Matson)
This is the second installment of this conference. In 2013 the Dialogue of Civilizations was hosted by Guatemala in the heartland of the Maya, at sites including the jungle-enshrouded ruins of Tikal. In all, the five civilizations discussed each year are those of the Maya region, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, and China, each of which is significant for developing its own form of writing.
From May 3-9, 2014 the conference will explore ancient sites of Turkey in Istanbul, Göbekli Tepe, and Ankara, giving presentations and discussing topics including the meaning of civilization, the origins of writing, and the incredible shift from “cave man” to “city man” during the neolithic period. To quote Dr. Indiana Jones, that’s “neo, meaning ‘new,’ and lithic, meaning ‘stone’.”
In keeping with the inspiration for the conference, our conversation will also take place in a multitude of today’s languages. We’ll have some of them covered here, but if your own native or ancestral language isn’t represented, jump in with translations of tweets and help bring more of the world into the conversation. If you’d like to translate a blog post, simply say so in a comment and we will be in touch.
Enjoy the adventure!