Renowned archaeologist David Wengrow holds the first Henrik Steffens Lecture

The University of Stavanger is proud to announce the launch of a new annual lecture series, the Henrik Steffens Lecture. On 29 November, the British archaeologist, professor, and best-selling author David Wengrow will provide a fresh perspective on the history of humanity.

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Arkeolog, professor og forfatter David Wengrow. (Foto: Antonio Olmos)

The new lecture series aims to attract prominent international and national figures to share their unique perspectives with the academic community, students, and the wider Stavanger community.

Sign up for the Henrik Steffens Lecture 2023

Challenging the established

Rector Klaus Mohn is proud that archaeologist David Wengrow is the inaugural speaker in what will become an annual tradition at the university.

– In a remarkable way, Wengrow utilises archaeological expertise to challenge established insights into the development of humanity," says Mohn. His exceptional combination of interdisciplinary, originality, and innovative thinking suits both the Steffens Lecture and the University of Stavanger.

A new perspective on human history

In his groundbreaking book, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, co-authored with anthropologist David Graeber, Wengrow presents a fresh outlook on human history, challenging the standard narrative.

The prevailing perception is that humans were initially tiny bands of hunter-gatherers before transitioning to agriculture and building settlements. Subsequently, cities emerged, followed by the establishment of organized and civilized societies.

However, according to Wengrow, it's not that simple. He argues that agriculture doesn't represent a sharp division in human development. On the contrary, recent archaeological findings and discoveries indicate that traces of political systems can be found even in hunter-gatherer societies. Moreover, there are examples of large cities operating without hierarchical systems.


Celebrating Henrik Steffens' legacy

Svart-hvitt maleri som portretterer en mann.
Henrik Steffens was a central figure in European cultural and intellectual history .

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the natural philosopher and scientist Henrik Steffens in Stavanger. Norway's first intellectual superstar was famous for his enthusiastic lectures. He was a fearless and engaged social commentator, advocating for universities to actively participate in public discourse.

Over the past few years, the University of Stavanger has brought Henrik Steffens back into the spotlight through events such as Steffens-salong and a Steffens conference. And now, with the Steffens Lecture

– The Henrik Steffens Lecture aims to be a tribute to research, academic achievements, and a platform for exchanging groundbreaking knowledge and ideas, says Mohn.

Sign up for the Henrik Steffens Lecture 2023 - David Wengrow: A new history of humanity and the roots of inequality