Hello and welcome!

Welcome to the Thin End of the Wedge – the podcast where experts from around the world share new and interesting stories about life in the ancient Middle East. Everyone I talk to will be a world expert on the topic. We won’t talk to you like you’re stupid. But you won’t need any special training to understand what we’re talking about.

This is my personal project. I’m very excited to see it come to life. I fell in love with the history of the ancient Middle East as a teenager, and I’ve been lucky enough to make a career out of it ever since. I want to open this fascinating period of history to a much wider audience. Each episode I’ll talk to friends and colleagues, and get them to explain their work in a way we can all understand.

This podcast owes its origin to the difficult summer of 2020, when Covid-19 ravaged the world. Everything in my working life seemed to be being put on hold: talks, workshops, conferences, and even my own job. Meanwhile, colleagues in the Middle East started to arrange virtual talks. They were brilliant, and very well attended. We’re all now used to connecting over Zoom. These talks showed the appetite for digestible information about research on the ancient Middle East. They also highlighted how rarely Iraqi voices have been able to make themselves heard over the last few decades, and how easy it would be to improve on that situation now.

Thin End of the Wedge provides a platform for experts to share their knowledge and passion widely. I hope that colleagues, and especially students, will find it interesting. But this is not a course in ancient Mesopotamian studies. You don’t need to listen to the episodes in sequence, nor even to have listened to any of the others. I want non-expert listeners to enjoy these chats too.

Professors at prestigious universities have many opportunities to display their knowledge. They do have interesting things to say, so I will talk to them. But there are many other colleagues whose work is no less important or interesting. They are given fewer chances to have their voice heard. I want to focus on them.

Most of all, I want to help the voices of Middle Eastern scholars be heard more loudly. That’s relatively straightforward. I also want the knowledge generated about the ancient Middle East to be more easily accessible in the modern Middle East. Here’s where I need your help. I want to make the podcast available in Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages. That takes money that I don’t have. Please support Thin End of the Wedge and help make this history accessible to everyone.