Ancient World Seminar

Via Appia Antica
Via Appia Antica - Quo Vadis?
(Photograph: Andrew Stephenson)

The Ancient World Seminar is held at 1-2 pm usually on Monday during semester for presentations and discussions of papers from students and academic staff on all aspects of the ancient world.


Hyun Jin Kim


Mcmahon Ball Theatre, Old Arts, unless otherwise noted.

2017 Programme

6 March

Michael Schmitz, University of Melbourne

The Evolution of Roman Armour During the Dacian Wars AD101-107

The Roman military are renowned for their ability to adapt to the enemies they faced. This presentation will focus on the Roman adaptation of defensive equipment to mitigate the threat posed by the Dacians during Trajan’s wars against the Dacian king Decebalus between AD 101 and 106.

13 March

K.O. Chong-Gossard, University of Melbourne

The Pope's Shoes: Cultural Glosses by Guy Jouenneaux in Badius’ 1493 Edition of Terence's Comedies

The invention of the printing press with movable type in the mid-15th century revolutionized the study of the classics, and it is no surprise that one of the most popular printed authors was Terence, whose six Latin comedies had been indispensable in the education of schoolboys for centuries. Terence's comedies contain many references to ancient customs and to figures from classical mythology, some quite direct, others oblique. For late-15th century readers unfamiliar with all aspects of antiquity, the significance of an invocation to Juno Lucina or the mention of a psaltria in a character’s speech could be lost. This paper examines how the commentary of Guy Jouenneaux (a.k.a. Guido Juvenalis), which was printed in Badius’ 1493 edition of Terence, explains the background of ancient cultural references in the plays. Examples in the Eunuchus alone include military terms like centurio and cornu, the etymology of peniculon (a long sponge), and the myth of Hercules and OmphaleMost notably, Jouenneaux describes Omphale's sandals as similar to the pope's shoes worn at the celebration of mass, which is itself a reminder to us that late 15th Europeans no longer wore sandals. By examining such cultural glosses, and in particular his erudite quoting of ancient writers (Cicero, Ovid, Sallust, Varro, and Festus being frequent), we can understand more precisely what Jouenneaux means in his first epistle (printed in Badius' edition) when he proclaims his intention to explain every small detail (minima quaeque) of the Latin for students whose desire for learning (discendi cupiditatem) is hampered for lack of a teacher or lack of money.

20 March

Antonio Gonzalez, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation

Cultural Cleansing and Iconoclasm under the ‘Islamic State’: Human/Heritage Attacks on Yezidis and Christians

When the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) seized large swathes of territory across Iraq and Syria and declared their new caliphate, they unleashed a cataclysmic wave of both devastating human suffering and unprecedented heritage destruction.  In terms of the human suffering, the IS has executed many who questioned their nefarious ideology or committed petty crimes.  At the same time, the rapid expansion of the IS has also proved fatal for many of the world’s most sensitive and important cultural heritage sites.  Targeted sites range from ancient Mesopotamian city-states through to Greek, Roman and Byzantine sites, as well as museums, art galleries and libraries. However, little attention has been paid to the intersection between the human suffering and the heritage destruction undertaken by the Islamic State (IS).  Here, human/heritage destruction are intertwined: the suffering inflicted on people is projected onto their sites of ritual and worship; just as the destruction of these sites are deliberately orchestrated to inflict symbolic suffering on specific communities and to shatter the ethnic and religious diversity of the region.  This talk will explore and document the human/heritage ‘cultural cleansing’ undertaken by the IS against two fragile minorities: the Yezidi and Christian populations of northern Iraq and Syria.

27 March

Chris Gosden, University of Oxford

English Landscapes and Identities

The English Landscapes and Identities project (funded by the European Research Council) attempted to bring together all the major digital sources of archaeological information on the English landscape for the period from 1500 BC to AD 1086.  We were interested in the possibilities of large-scale digital data for revealing patterns of life and landscape organization across England as a whole, but also regional differences.  This seminar will present some of the major results of the project, looking at the influences generating archaeological evidence, but also variations in artefact use, landscape clearance, fields and settlement across England from the prehistoric period, through the Roman occupation and into the early medieval world.  Issues of continuity and change have been rethought around scales of change and the notion of identity was also addressed.

3 April

Philipp Stockhammer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Drinks and Drugs: Entanglements of Aegean Pottery in the Late Bronze Age Southern Levant

10 April

Louise Hitchcock, University of Melbourne

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me: The Maritime Culture of the Sea People

24 April

Trudie Fraser, University of Melbourne

The Dilemma of Vibia Sabina's Roman Coins

1 May

Andrew Turner, University of Melbourne

Jodocus Badius and the Lyon Terence: The Earliest Illustratrated incunabulum of the Six Comedies

8 May

Stuart Ibrahim, University of Melbourne

Third Intermediate Period/Iron Age I-II Raphia and Egypt's Response to the Changed Political Spectrum in the Levant: Early Results

15 May

Brent Davis, University of Melbourne

The Phaistos Disk: A New Way of Looking at the Language Behind the Script

22 May

Frederik Vervaet, University of Melbourne

Last of the Naval Triumphs: Revisiting Some Key Actian Honours

Past papers