CSSS Spring Lecture: Amir Harrak

When and Where

Wednesday, May 08, 2024 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
BF 200B, Conference Room
Bancroft Building (4 Bancroft Avenue, Toronto)


Professor Amir Harrak, University of Toronto


Metal and Wood Liturgical Objects in Greater Mesopotamia

In this year's May Lecture, Professor Amir Harrak explores liturgical Christian items used by diverse Eastern and Western Christian rites and churches in the Greater Mesopotamian region in various time periods. Liturgical objects have long been and remain an intrinsic part of religious material culture in Christianity in general and in Mesopotamian and Near and Middle Christianity in particular. Their production, symbolism, uses and significance are of a sacred order. Created from natural elements including and not limited to wood, metal, stone, or combinations of materials, every liturgical object and monument-- be it portable or a massive building-- is intentionally made for specific purposes and uses within a sacred liturgical time-space continuum. Professor Harrak's upcoming  lecture will feature the rich history and specificities of several of these liturgical objects and implements.

Professor Amir Harrak is the Head of the Syriac and Aramaic Programme at the University of Toronto's Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (NMC), and the Founder and President of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies (CSSS) and of its Journal (JCSSS). 

Having initially obtained respective diplomas in Classical Philosophy and Theology from the Dominican Seminary in Iraq (1973), Professor Harrak pursued studies at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, where he obtained a BA in Semitic Philology and another BA in Archaeology and Art History (1980). He then studied at the University of Toronto, where he obtained an MA and a PhD in Assyriology and Aramaic Studies (1987). 

Publications: His profuse publications, local, national and international presentations, symposia, seminars, conferences and lectures, in English, French and Arabic pertain inter alia to Syriac chronography, history and historiography, Syriac art history, sacred arts, culture and heritage, legal literature, philology and history of Syriac Christianity, Syriac epigraphy and paleography. Among his current projects are a Guide to the Aramaic of Ezra and Daniel (forthcoming), art and architecture of churches of Iraq, and Syriac monuments and epigraphy of Iraq. Among his numerous publications are The Chronicle of Michael the Great (The Edessa-Aleppo Syriac Codex - Books XV to XXI from the Year 1050 to 1195 AD (2019), which was used by NASA to corroborate current astronomical discoveries, The Chronicle of Zuqnīn Parts I and II From the Creation to the Year 506/7 AD (2107), Catalaogue of Syriac and Garshuni Manuscripts: Manuscripts Owned by the Iraqi Department of Antiquities and Heritage (2011), Le monastère de Mar-Behnam à la période atabeg - XIIIe s. (2018). Professor Harrak currently teaches several courses including Biblical Aramaic, Aramaic Epigraphy, Syriac historical and Exegetical texts, in addition to Middle Eastern Christianity, Christians of the Middle East and Middle Eastern Christian literature and Syriac Texts in Translation.

Courses: Courses include and are not limited to: NML220Y1: Introductory Aramaic, NML421Y1: Classical Syriac, NMC270H1: Christians of the Middle East

About the CSSS Spring Lecture, Symposium and Journal (JCSSS)
The Canadian Society for Syriac Studies (CSSS) is a not-for-profit non-political non-ideological non-discriminatory organization, founded by Professor Amir Harrak in 1999 within the University of Toronto's Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations' Syriac and Aramaic Programme. It is dedicated to study of, and educational activities related to Syriac and Aramaic culture and heritage. CSSS holds an annual Symposium in November and a Spring lecture in May and issues a yearly academic journal (JCSSS). Other CSSS activities include travel tours to Syriac/Aramaic historical and archaeological sites and related multimedia events. Membership subscriptions and Donations can be made online.