Ancient World Seminar 2007

Byzantine Church Door
Byzantine Church Door,
Ancient Agora, Athens (Photograph: Andrew Stephenson)

Papers for 2007

28 February
Estelle Strazdins
, University of Melbourne
Celebrity and Identity in Lucian

7 March
David Runia
, University of Melbourne
The Question of the Size of the Sun: An Example of Doxography at Work

13 March (Tuesday)
David Pritchard
, University of Sydney
War, Democracy and Classical Athens

Classical Athens is famous for creating what is arguably the world’s first democracy and for its related cultural revolution that laid the foundations for the historiography, theatre, philosophy and visual arts of the antique and modern worlds. Little known (and certainly never hymned) is the city’s contemporaneous military revolution. Athens of the fifth century intensified and transformed the waging of war, killed tens of thousands of fellow Greeks and ignored some of the traditional customs of battle. By the time its democracy was fully elaborated in the 450s, war had come to dominate the politics and popular culture of the city and the lives of its citizens. War consumed more money than any other public activity, was waged more frequently than ever before and was the main topic of debate in the democratic council and assembly. Certainly this military revolution was made possible by the unrivalled size of Attike and its citizen population and the unprecedented supply of money from the Athenian maritime empire. However, the practical innovations Athens made to the waging of war, the efficiency of its military operations and the disturbing willingness of its non-elite citizens to fight and die in battle were direct consequences of the new practices of the democracy. To a large extent the twin revolutions of Athenian culture and warfare can be understood as flipsides of each other.

14 March
Mehmet Özdogan
, Istanbul University
Excavations at Cayonu: A Neolithic Site in South-Eastern Turkey

21 March
Fiona Kidd
, University of Sydney
History on the Walls: The Kakazl’i-yatkan Wall Paintings and Traditions of Mural Art in Ancient Chorasmia

29 March (Thursday)
Will Anderson
, University of Melbourne
Pilgrimage and Trade in Late Antiquity: Some Evidence from Egypt and Asia Minor

This paper looks at the distribution of 6th- and 7th-century AD pilgrim flasks from Egypt and Asia Minor, considering their whereabouts as a reflection of travel and trade. The material culture of late antique pilgrimage is often used to interpret people’s religious beliefs and customs, however the production and distribution of these pottery flasks can also be seen to reflect secular aspects of the early Byzantine world: the economic and political significance of pilgrim cults, the extent of long-distance travel within and outside the empire, the circulation and exchange of prestige goods and the relationship between pilgrimage and trade.

4 April
K.O. Chong-Gossard
, University of Melbourne
Sleeping with the Emperor: Sex, power, and promotion in Suetonius’ Caesares

18 April
Jessie Burkett-Rees
, University of Melbourne
A Footprint in the Wilderness: Archaeological Landscapes of Central Transcaucasia

24 April
Aleks Michalewicz
, University of Melbourne
Death and the Demigod

2 May
Sarah Midford
, University of Melbourne
Civilizations as Triumphal Trinkets: Representing Conquered Civilizations in the Republican Triumph

9 May
Kathleen Hay
, University of Melbourne
Peter the Iberian: The Legacy of a Georgian Bishop in Fifth-century Palestine

10 May (Thursday - Theatre A, Old Arts)
Ken Sheedy
, Macquarie University
Constructing Alexander's Image for the Inhabitants of the Persian Empire: Some Thoughts on Alexander in Babylon

16 May
Parshia Lee-Stecum
, University of Melbourne
The Making of Rome in Ovid, Fasti 1

23 May
John Penwill
, LaTrobe University
From Corinth to Cenchreae: One small step for an ass...

1 August
Peter Mountford
, University of Melbourne
From Fantasy to Reality in Epic Conclusions: A Comparison of Iliad 22 and Aeneid 12

8 August
Lynne Lancaster
, Ohio University
Reading the Colosseum with an Archaeologist’s Eye

8 August, 3:15 - Elisabeth Murdoch Room 148
Donald Preziosi
, UCLA
Minoan Palace Planning and Its Origins

15 August
Edward Jeremiah
, University of Melbourne
What’s in a Word: The Lexicalisation of the Self in Ancient Greece

22 August
Louise Hitchcock
, University of Melbourne
‘Do you see a man skilful in his work? He will stand before kings’: Exploring Interconnections in Aegean and Levantine Architecture

28 August (Tuesday) - Old Arts Theatre E
Geoff Adams, Monash University
The Structure of the Vita Marci Antonini in the Historia Augusta

31 August (Friday) - Old Arts Theatre A
Gillian Shepherd
, University of Birmingham
Location, Location, Location: Site and Status in Sicilian Cemeteries

5 September
Heather Jackson
, University of Melbourne
Erotes on the Euphrates: Redecorating the Walls of a Hellenistic House – A 1000-piece Jigsaw Puzzle for All Ages

The discovery of several fragments of a Greek figured frieze at Jebel Khalid in North Syria motivated this attempt to reconstruct and redecorate a domestic room in an elite house on the site. The mid-2nd century BC houses on the island of Delos fortunately provide some models for this sort of decoration, which preceded and no doubt influenced the so-called First Style wall-paintings at Pompeii. Putting together the small pieces has been a fascinating exercise of measurement and research. The resulting wall, somewhat overdecorated with 8 different pattern bands, red, black and yellow panels, some faux marble and the frieze of Erotes driving goat chariots, is hypothetical only to a small extent. The exercise has underlined the extent of Greek influence, especially on the elite society of this Macedonian settlement in Syria. It has also raised questions about contact with Delos and Macedonia, and the chronology of the development of the figured frieze.

7 September (Friday) - Old Arts Theatre E
Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier
, German School in Athens
The Most Recent Excavations at Miletus/Millawanda and the History of Western Anatolia in the Late Bronze Age.

14 September (Friday) - Old Arts Theatre C
Haim Gitler
, Israel Museum
Metallurgical Analysis and Ancient Coins

10 October
Michelle Negus Cleary
, University of Sydney
Walls in the Desert: Settlement Patterns and Urbanism in the Ancient Oasis of Chorasmia

The ancient oasis polity of ancient Chorasmia formed part of the north-eastern realm of the Achaemenid empire. It existed as an irrigated zone between the pastoral nomad practices of the steppe surrounding it and the great agrarian civilizations to the far south, east and west. Chorasmia (Khorezm) never suffered the ravages of Alexander of Macedon, nor his legacy of Hellenized urbanisation, so it preserves a window on the localised, pre-Hellenistic, East-Iranian/Central Asian settlement patterns of the mid-late 1st millennium BCE.

The main elements of the constructed Chorasmian landscape, being fortified enclosures (kalas), irrigation networks, farms and fields, were well preserved up until the 1970s and 1980s due to hydrological instability and subsequent desertification. Past scholars have interpreted the large, Chorasmian fortified enclosures or kalas, as urban centres, despite the fact that most of these sites lack key urban features such as residential areas, streets and manufacturing quarters. The presence of these fortified sites in combination with large irrigation systems should not necessarily lead to the assumption of a centralised, highly urban state, especially in this zone of nomadic pastoral production. Soviet expeditions of the mid-late twentieth century CE collected much information on this ancient landscape and this data, combined with archival satellite imagery and recent GPS field surveys, allows it to be reconstructed and subjected to new analyses. This re-examination of the Chorasmian kalas supports the idea of a non-nucleated settlement pattern typical across the oases of Central Asia and enduring from the Bronze Age until the twentieth century CE.

17 October
Lindsay Zoch
, University of Melbourne
Sadness Figured Out: The Language of Pathos in Virgil's Aeneid

24 October
Stephie Nikoloudis, University of Melbourne
The Mycenaean ra-wa-ke-ta: Military commander or Minister for Multicultural Affairs?

The traditional interpretation of the ra-wa-ke-ta as the commander of the army is based primarily on the etymology of his title: he ‘leads’ (ago) or ‘gathers’ (ageiro) the lawos. However, the precise meaning of the Mycenaean *ra-wo has always been problematic. Combining textual and linguistic evidence, I propose that the ra-wa-ke-ta served as a liaison between the privileged (palatial elite and local landowners) and the less privileged ‘others’ within the Mycenaean community. Military and naval service, along with agricultural labour and specialised crafts, were mechanisms through which the ra-wa-ke-ta seems to have mediated the integration of ‘outsiders’ into Mycenaean society.

31 October (Theatre A, Old Arts)
Helen Slaney, University of Melbourne
Remote Control: The Flavian Argonautica

This paper will investigate the ideological implications of producing a Roman Argonautica during the 80s CE, at a time when a new brand of autocracy was making the most of its economic conquests. The Argo was a heavily loaded motif in first-century literature, tapping into ever-present anxieties about the potential for corruption which accompanied geographical expansion and the transgression of spatial and technological limits. Composing an epic on this theme in the Flavian court was therefore anything but frivolous.

In addition, Valerius makes a number of pointed allusions to contemporary Rome, disrupting the mythic world of the epic in order to remind his reader of the ultimate outcome of the events set in motion by Jason’s quest. As the Argonautica establishes itself as an alternative Roman foundation scenario, it simultaneously interrogates the principles on which such a Rome must necessarily be based.

8 November (Thursday)
Gregory Gilbert, University of Durham
Prehistoric Saïs: Results from the Western Nile Delta Floodplain

This seminar presents the results of the Prehistoric period excavations at Saïs (Sa el-Hagar) in north-western Egypt. It will include some preliminary observations on the material found which includes artefacts from the Buto-Maadi and Egyptian Neolithic cultures, tentatively dated between 4800 and 3500 BC. The work is supported by the Egypt Exploration Society, Durham University (UK) and the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK. The seminar is based on the paper presented in June 2007 at Poznan, Poland - by Dr Gregory Gilbert (Durham University) and Dr Penelope Wilson, (Durham), with contributions from Geoffrey Tassie (UCL), Louise Bertini (Durham), Alan Clapham (Cambridge) and Tonny de Wit (Leiden).

21 November
Peter Pfälzner, University of Tübingen
The Temple Oval at Tell Mozan (Syria) and the Development of the Mesopotamian Ziqqurat

Dr Pfälzner is best known for his work on the Bronze Age of Syria. His fieldwork has spanned two decades beginning with his research at the small city of Tall Bderi (1986-92). He has directed excavations at the urban centre Tell Chuera (1995-97) and at Tell Mozan, the ancient city of Urkesch (1998-2004). Dr Pfälzner's most recent project is the excavations at the royal city of Tell Mischrife (1999-present), the ancient city of Qatna. This project is particularly noteworthy for the discovery of the city's intact royal burial chamber, and an archive of royal inscriptions.