2014 Dialogue of Civilizations Opens in Istanbul

The 2014 Dialogue of Civilizations is kicking off in Istanbul this weekend, bringing together archaeologists and other experts in five of the world’s great ancient civilizations. For the next week, they will converse with each other and the public, learning more about these cultures and thinking about what they can still teach us today.

Travel writer and host of the National Geographic Weekend radio show Boyd Matson’s persistence paid off when he gained access to the top of one of the usually off-limits minarets of the Blue Mosque in 2012. (Photo by Boyd Matson)

This is the second installment of this conference. In 2013 the Dialogue of Civilizations was hosted by Guatemala in the heartland of the Maya, at sites including the jungle-enshrouded ruins of Tikal. In all, the five civilizations discussed each year are those of the Maya region, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, and China, each of which is significant for developing its own form of writing.

You can follow along and be part of the conversation here on the National Geographic Explorers Journal blog, and on Twitter at #5civilizations.

From May 3-9, 2014 the conference will explore ancient sites of Turkey in Istanbul, Göbekli Tepe, and Ankara, giving presentations and discussing topics including the meaning of civilization, the origins of writing, and the incredible shift from “cave man” to “city man” during the neolithic period. To quote Dr. Indiana Jones, that’s “neo, meaning ‘new,’ and lithic, meaning ‘stone’.”

In keeping with the inspiration for the conference, our conversation will also take place in a multitude of today’s languages. We’ll have some of them covered here, but if your own native or ancestral language isn’t represented, jump in with translations of tweets and help bring more of the world into the conversation. If you’d like to translate a blog post, simply say so in a comment and we will be in touch.

Enjoy the adventure!


Human Journey


Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.