by Melanie Takefman
For example, ones livelihood in Mesopotamia was dependent on the
volatile Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which often flooded and left populations
destitute. As a result, they were fearful of their gods. You didnt
want those guys to be mad at you! he said.
Conversely, the stable Nile, which deposited enriching sediments into
their soil, sustained the ancient Egyptians agriculturally. Consequently,
their religion contained elements of euphoria and the people
were a happy lot.
The ancient world is a lot more interesting than ours, he
said. Good and evil were not so defined.
Gods were not always portrayed as paradigms of piety. The Greek god Aphrodite
cheated on her husband, for example. There were allowances for every
human tendency and there was the chance to explore it, he said.
While Mendelsohn is fascinated by history and culture, languages are
his passion. My degree, he joked, is basically an excuse
for me to read all of these languages. He received several bursaries
for his achievements, including the FCAR, a provincial scholarship for
academic research and Concordia University External Grant Holder Doctoral
Now working on his third degree in classics and linguistics, Mendelsohn
has been taken by his studies to Egypt, Israel, England, Italy and Greece.
The latest phase of his research involves heavy reading of Hittite and
Akkadian texts, both languages spoken in the ancient near East. He is
also learning Arabic to enhance his knowledge of the ancient Semitic languages.
Besides being the only Concordia doctoral student in Linguistics/Classics,
Mendelsohn is one of few scholars to have fused philology (the structure,
historical development and relationships of languages) and archaeology.
Progress in our understanding of the continuity of culture across
the ancient near-Eastern and Mediterranean worlds is hampered by traditional
disciplinary boundaries, said Annette Teffeteller, Mendelsohns
academic supervisor. A professor in the Department of Classics, Modern
Languages and Linguistics, she is also acting chair of the Physics Department.
David has decided advantages in being able to bridge these various
areas, Teffeteller said. His study of Greek, Hittite, and
Akkadian has given him a solid basis in the use of ancient texts for the
study of symbolic culture in these different traditions, while his archaeological
training has provided him with an awareness of various methodologies for
Once he finishes his degree, Mendelsohn plans to teach his passion and travel to Israel, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. If I never had to worry about money, I would keep on studying, he said. I really enjoy it!