Painting depicting ancient Egypt in seventh plague of thunderstorms with hail and fire

Lucy Davey Memorial Lecture 2023: Conflict with Nature: Bioweapons in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Literature


Join us at the museum as we hear Dr Louise M. Pryke present the 2023 Lucy Davey Memorial Lecture.

Many ancient narratives, such as the Mesopotamian epics, Enuma Elish, and Gilgamesh, involve fierce battles weaponizing natural forces. Whether human, divine, or somewhere in between, a protagonist's ability to manipulate natural elements can be a decisive yet volatile element in deciding the outcome of a conflict. 

With respect to Lucy Davey's transdisciplinary knowledge of ancient Near Eastern cultures, this paper takes an ecocritical approach to a selection of narratives from Mesopotamian, biblical, and Egyptian literature, to explore the conceptual link between favourable environmental conditions, conflict, and divine support. Further, we consider the ways that conflicts with nature blur the lines between creation and destruction, humans and animals, and combatants and casualties. 

About the speaker

Dr Louise M. Pryke is an honorary research associate in the University of Sydney's Departments of Classics & Ancient History, and Hebrew, Biblical & Jewish Studies. Among a constellation of research interests, Louise writes on the myths, legends, and religions of the ancient Near East, ancient ecology and animality, and wisdom. She is the author of Scorpion (2016), Ishtar (2017), Gilgamesh (2019), and Turtle (2021). Her next book, Wind, will be published in 2023. 


Presented in conjunction with The Fellowship for Biblical Studies


Header image: John Martin Seventh Plague of Egypt, 1823. Courtesy of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Public Domain).


In person event

Friday 31 March 2023
2.00PM - 3.00PM
Nelson Meers Foundation Auditorium, Chau Chak Wing Museum
Register now