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University's public lecture series goes interactive – University of Reading

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University's public lecture series goes interactive

Release Date 10 October 2012

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Thirst: Water and power in the ancient world - Wednesday 17 October, 8pm

After a year of severe drought and flooding, experts at the University of Reading believe that an answer to the world's water crisis of the next century could come from the ancient civilisations of the past.

For the first time, people from all over the world can take part in the first ever interactive public lecture at the University of Reading to find out more about one of the biggest issues facing the world today.

The ancient civilisations of Rome, Greece, south-east Asia and China have left an indelible mark on the world through their art, architecture and culture. But Professor Steve Mithen, an archaeologist and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University who is a leading authority on the subject, believes all their achievements were made possible by the hydraulic engineering marvels that irrigated valleys and supplied water to their great cities.

"Many people visit the great historical sites of the world as tourists and look up, to see the tombs, the temples, the great architecture and art. I want people to look down, into the drains," said Professor Mithen.

"By understanding the effort that went into managing water in the ancient world, and learning how changes to the water supply helped shape history, we can begin to form a better understanding of the huge global challenges we face in the 21stcentury."

In the first of the University's 2012-13 Public Lecture Series on Wednesday 17 October, Professor Mithen will explore how the rise and collapse of great past civilisations was dependent on water and asks what lessons we can learn from ancient civilisations that can help us manage our water today.

Participants will be taken on a journey through the ancient world, from the Minoans to the Maya, from the Angkor to the Andes, learning how the rise of past civilisations depended upon the management of their water supply, while their collapse often spurred from excessive droughts and floods.

Get involved!

Unlike previous public lectures, organisers are asking audience members to keep their mobile phones switched on (but silent) so they can tweet and text their reactions and questions to Professor Mithen live throughout the one-hour event.

People who can't make it on the day or audience members who want to find out more afterwards, can learn more about the topic and interact with the University by visiting a special online site with videos, messages and discussion about the lecture's key themes. Follow @UniRdg_News on Twitter and use the hashtag #UoRLectures to make comments or ask questions.

All the talks in the series are given by researchers eminent in their field and in a manner that is easily understood by all. They offer a unique opportunity to learn about the cutting-edge research, teaching and people that make the University of Reading a world-class institution.

University Public Lectures are held in the Palmer Building on the University's Whiteknights campus. Lectures are free to attend and no ticket is required. Please visit thePublic Lecture Series websitefor more details or contact the Events team on 0118 378 4313 or

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