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The Levantini Podcast

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The Levantini Podcast, formerly the Foreigncy Podcast, is a show about Near Eastern history, language, religion and culture. We speak with academics and experts on a variety of topics, both ancient and modern.
44 Episodes
Daniel Fuks is a Newton International Fellow of the British Academy at the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. As a PhD candidate in the Archaeobotany Lab at Bar-Ilan University, he was the leading author of the research study that examined the rise and fall of the Byzantine Negev viticulture. You can find a link to the study here.  Additionally, the Mediterranean Seminar nominated the paper as ‘Article of the Month’ in November 2020 which you can check out here. 
Sarit Kattan-Gribbetz is an Associate Professor of Theology at Fordham University and the author of Time and Difference in Rabbinic Judaism, which can be purchased on Amazon. The book explores the rhythms of time that animated the rabbinic world of late antiquity, revealing how rabbis conceptualized time as a way of constructing difference between themselves and imperial Rome, Jews and Christians, men and women, and human and divine. 



Playaling is a language learning platform founded by Jordan Gerstler-Holton, a former Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) fellow and long-time student of Arabic. Playaling is composed of a dedicated team of language professionals making engaging real-world Arabic content available to teachers and students across the globe with a heavy focus on Arabic dialect instruction. Lena Krause, an Arabic teacher at Beacon Academy in Evanston, Illinois, has done a tremendous job creating the North African Darija content on the site. You can access all of Playaling’s Arabic learning materials for free on their website
Carolina Lopez-Ruiz is a Professor at Ohio State University in the Classics Department and her research focuses on understanding Greek culture in its broader ancient Mediterranean context. She has authored a number of books on the Phoenician civilization and in this episode we discussed her book When The Gods Were Born - Greek Cosmogonies and the Near East, which examines the links between ancient Greek civilization and Northwest Semitic peoples and how the cultural exchange between the two influenced Greek origin myths. You can purchase a copy of When the Gods Were Born on Amazon.
Professors Aaron D. Rubin and Lily Kahn came back on the show to discuss their new book Jewish Languages From A to Z. The book is a comprehensive survey of Jewish languages, covering more than 50 different languages and language varieties and sheds light on the rich variety of languages spoken and written by Jews over the past three thousand years. The book also features a number of photographs of various manuscripts that help bring the languages to life. Aaron D. Rubin is the Malvin E. And Lea P. Bank Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Jewish Studies, and Linguistics at Penn State University and Lily Kahn is a Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Languages at University College London. You can purchase the book on Amazon here
Michael Philip Penn is a professor of religious studies at Stanford University and the author of Envisioning Islam: Syriac Christians and the Early Muslim World as well as the book When Christians First Met Muslims. Professor Penn’s book and research examine Syriac sources to better understand how Christians in the Middle East perceived the early Muslims and in doing so challenge some widespread cultural assumptions about early Christian-Muslim relations.  You can purchase Envisioning Islam on Amazon at this link as well as When Christians First Met Muslims here.
Sue Frumin is a post-doctoral researcher at Bar Ilan University and archaeobotanist. Sue works in the archaebotany lab run by Professor Ehud Weiss at the university. She is one of the co-authors of a 2015 paper that examined the impact of the Philistine migration on biodiversity in the Southern Levant. You can check out the paper here
Gideon Bohak is a Professor in the Department of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud at Tel Aviv University. He is a specialist in Jewish magic, especially in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and in the study of the Cairo Genizah. In this episode of the podcast, we spoke about Jewish magical practices of late antiquity and the use of Jewish amulets, incantation bowls, and manuals in Aramaic and Hebrew. You can purchase Professor Bohak's book Ancient Jewish Magic on Amazon.
Professor David Ilan has come back to discuss the Chalcolithic age in the Southern Levant (4500 - 3700 BC) and specifically theories concerning religious beliefs about death and reincarnation. Professor Ilan serves as the Director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem and the Director of the Tel Dan excavations. You can read a paper that he co-authored with Professor Yorke Rowan of the University of Chicago, "Deconstructing and Recomposing the Narrative of Spiritual Life in the Chalcolithic of the Southern Levant" here.
Roni-Henkin is an Associate Professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. We spoke about the contact between Palestinian Arabic and Israeli Hebrew and how the two languages have interacted with one another for over a century. One item we did not get around to discussing, but is still important, is the major phenomenon of codeswitching among young Palestinians, and the sociolinguistic implications as it relates to education, social status, and ethnic loyalties. You can download Professor Henkin's research on this topic at
Lily Kahn is a Professor of Hebrew and Jewish languages at University College London. Professor Kahn is also a scholar of the Yiddish language and published the book Colloquial Yiddish, which can be purchased on Amazon.In our talk, we examined the history of Yiddish, its rise, fall, and resurgence, and also how the language continues to change and develop.
The Veterans Theory

The Veterans Theory


Professor David Ilan serves as the Director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem and the Director of the Tel Dan excavations. Our discussion focused on Professor Ilan’s new theory surrounding the emergence of Israelite settlements in the hill country of Canaan.
Eric Cline is a Professor of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Anthropology and the Director of the GWU Capitol Archaeological Institute. He's also the author of the book 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed, which covers the Bronze Age collapse, its causes, and what we can learn from it. You can purchase the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.



In this episode of the podcast, we spoke with Nesrin Amin, the founder, and host of the Bilmasri blog and podcast. Bilmasri is a blog & podcast dedicated to the Egyptian dialect, its sounds, structures, vocabulary, and the culture behind it. You can download episodes of the Podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and others and check out the blog at 
In this episode of the podcast, we spoke with Professor Dawn Chatty who is the former director of the Refugee Studies Center at the University of Oxford, a Fellow of the British Academy and an internationally recognized expert on Bedouin culture and tribalism. She is the author of From Camel to Truck - The Bedouin in the Modern World. We spoke about her decades of experience researching the Bedouin of the Levant, their history, customs, and current situation in Syria.



In this episode of the podcast, we spoke with Professor Devin Naar who is the Sephardic Studies Program Chair, Isaac Alhadeff Professor of Sephardic Studies, and an Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington. We spoke about the Ladino language, its history and cultural legacy and efforts underway at the university to preserve Ladino for future generations. You can learn more about the efforts underway at the University of Washington to preserve the Ladino language and Sephardic culture on the website of the Sephardic Studies Digital Library.
The Natufian Culture

The Natufian Culture


In this episode of the podcast, we spoke with Professor Emeritus Mina Weinstein-Evron of the University of Haifa who is the former head of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology. Her research focuses on the middle Paleolithic hunter-gather culture that lived in the Levant known as the Natufian Culture.
In this episode of the podcast, we spoke with the founder of the Hebrew language learning website and Youtube Channel Hebrew with Teacher Mike. We had a great conversation about his journey mastering Hebrew, the methods he’s adapted for his own students, and the importance of learning and using non-violent communication in Hebrew
In this episode of the podcast, we spoke with Reem Makhoul, the co-founder and creator of Ossass, a publisher of children’s books written in Arabic dialect. In our talk, we discussed what drew Reem to begin writing children’s books in Arabic dialect, the importance of publishing materials in dialect v. Modern Standard Arabic,  and the impact the stories have made around the world. I had a great time speaking with her and I hope you enjoy the show.You can visit the Ossass website and purchase the books on its website.
Israelian Hebrew

Israelian Hebrew


In this episode of the podcast, we spoke with Gary Rendsburg who is a professor of biblical studies, Hebrew language and ancient Judaism at Rutgers University. He holds the Blanche and Irving Laurie Chair in Jewish History.Professor Rendsburg is an expert on the historical development of the Hebrew language and ancient Hebrew dialects, which was the focus of our discussion. We also discuss other influences on the Hebrew language in antiquity and how other Semitic languages, such as Arabic, can help us decipher ancient Hebrew.You can purchase Professor Rendsburg's book 'Israelian Hebrew' on Amazon.
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