Ancient World Seminar 2016

Seminars for 2016

29 February - Professor Lindy Crewe, University of Manchester

Social Transformations on Cyprus at the Beginning of the Late Bronze Age: Brewing Beer and Building at Kissonerga-Skalia

Excavations are revealing that the coastal settlement at Kissonerga-Skalia in western Cyprus was a site of exceptional longevity. It remained occupied through the entire Early–Middle Cypriot Bronze Age, from c. 2500 BC until c. 1600 BC, the threshold of the Late Cypriot Bronze Age. During the final phase, a large building complex was constructed, with evidence of large open spaces delineated by a monumental wall, and industrial-scale cooking/heating facilities, including a malting kiln associated with beer manufacture. This paper will explore the means through which the occupants of Kissonerga-Skalia may have sought to maintain their own identities but also align themselves with other communities, around the island and in the surrounding eastern Mediterranean region, at a time of escalating interactions. The evidence for construction, production and consumption indicates a dynamic and outward-looking community, although ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts to establish themselves as a Late Cypriot centre.

7 March - Paul Zimansky, Stoney Brook University

Rusa’s Revolution and the End of Urartu

Recent archaeological research has transformed our understanding of the chronology and dynamics of Urartu in the 7th century BCE, although the changes have yet to be integrated into conventional histories.  Rusa, son of Argishti, dramatically reorganised the kingdom when he created four new royal centres to rival everything constructed by his predecessors. It has also become clear that he was the last Urartian king to do any building at all, and the ruins from which archaeologists have extracted virtually all of our information on Urartian political and economic organisation are precisely these short-lived sites. This seminar will review the new chronological arguments and discuss the archaeological evidence from Bastam and Ayanis in detail to shed light on the last days of the Kingdom of Van.

14 March - Elizabeth Stone, Stoney Brook University

Damage to Antiquities in Iraq

This seminar presentation focuses on the damage to archaeological sites in southern Iraq since the 2003 invasion of the country.  That invasion destroyed what was once an exceptionally strong system of both site and museum protection.  While the looting of the Iraq Museum made headlines, much less attention was paid to the damage sustained by the archaeological sites.  This lecture will document both the looting of the Iraq Museum and the   longer term damage to archaeological sites based on both personal experience and the use of high resolution satellite imagery.  The ability of the imagery to track damage to archaeological sites between 2003 and 2015, allows us to begin to understand the role played by site location, size, height and date to the likelihood of its being looted, as well as how these might change over time.

21 March - Annelies Van de Ven, University of Melbourne

Iran and the British Museum: A History of Diplomacy and Display

The British Museum has had a long and complex relation with Western Asia.

Emerging within an imperial context, the Museum’s role in perpetuating the colonialist discourse of cultural evolutionism cannot be underestimated. However, since its establishment it has also functioned as an intermediary, ensuring civil cooperation between various institutions, communities and even governments. Through its involvement in archaeo-historical exploration and research it has also broadened our understanding of the region’s history.

This paper will centre on one specific entity within this region, the lands of Persia, modern Iran. Based on my own recent fieldwork, I will analyse the British Museum’s history of displaying Persian antiquities. This in order to illustrate the British Museum’s interests in the nation as a source of scholarly knowledge, a popular exhibition subject and a diplomatic partner.

4 April - Simon Young, University of Melbourne

Public Architecture, Space and Identity in the Greek Polis in Asia Minor: The Observer Through Time (2nd century BC to the 3rd century AD)

Research on Greek and Roman public architecture has been characterised by a tendency to focus on individual building types and to regard them as a series. This approach overlooks a building's role in the overall cityscape as well as its intended effect on the observer. The identity of this observer has tended to be ill-defined in scholarship. The observer, who was either a resident or visitor to these cities, experienced public architecture as well as other objects on public display and they derived meaning from their placement, decoration and overall connection to the cityscape. This talk will consider the role of the ancient (and modern) observer in relation to two Hellenistic poleis in Asia Minor: a small outpost city, Lyrbe, and the "Triodos" at Ephesus. The discussion will also consider how useful it is to take the ancient observer into account when embarking on studies of ancient architecture.

11 April - Heather Jackson, University of Melbourne

Putting it all Together: What Have We Learnt From 20 Years of Excavation of Jebel-Khalid-on-the-Euphrates?

Work began at Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates in 1984, with a survey by Graeme Clarke. Excavation of sondages at selected sites began in 1987. Work continued with successive ARC grants for either excavation or study seasons, until our last season in 2010. In early 2011 we were all ready to go again, with eager students, but decided to postpone because of the uncertain political situation. We have never been back and it is unlikely that we will ever return to excavate. Therefore it is time to sum up the overall picture. What have we found? A Hellenistic settlement at a strategic point on the Euphrates, dating c. 300-70 BC. This paper will summarise the importance of the location of Jebel Khalid and the nature of the settlement – phrourion, katoikia or polis?. Some of the public buildings suggest the latter and provide a contrast with the relatively impoverished Hellenistic settlement of Dura-Europus down-river. The issue that has always dominated our analysis and research is “Where are the Syrians?“ How much involvement did they have in this Greek settlement? The answer involves examining architectural choices in public buildings and private houses, burial practices, artefacts such as pottery, figurines, inscriptions, sculpture and even the faunal evidence.

18 April - Tony Pollard, University of Glasgow

The Quest for Bannockburn: The Archaeology of a Scottish Medieval Battlefield

The 1314 Battle of Bannockburn saw a resounding victory by the Scots under King Robert I (Robert the Bruce) over the English army of King Edward II. The 700th anniversary was marked by various high profile events in 2014, but despite being the most famous battle in Scottish history its exact location has been debated among historians for the best part of a century. In 2012, a multi-disciplinary archaeological project set out to locate the battlefield, which was no small matter given that at least six possible sites have previously been suggested. Using historical research, environmental analysis, Lidar modelling and terrain analysis, excavation and metal detector survey the project focused on a number of these locations and ultimately provided a unique insight into the battle and the landscape in which it was fought. This presentation will provide an overview of the project, which involved over 1000 members of the public, consider what the findings have told us about the battle and assess the potential for other medieval conflict sites being identified using archaeological techniques.

2 May - Ron Ridley, University of Melbourne

Prince of Antiquarians: Francesco de Ficoroni, Leading Roman Antiquarian in the First Half of the 18th Century

Francesco de Ficoroni (1662-1747) is constantly alluded to in passing by books on Rome in the eighteenth century, without being able to tell anything about him. He was in fact the leading antiquarian and the most famous guide  of his time, who was in touch with all the leading antiquarians of Europe and Britain, and who published many books and left us some 550 letters. It is a shame that no one has bothered to read them. My biography is to appear with Quasar in Rome.

9 May - Patrick Gray, Durham University

Nietzsche vs. Freud: Shame Culture, Guilt Culture and the Study of Ancient Greece

In her initial account of the difference between shame culture and guilt culture, Ruth Benedict built upon Freud’s narrative of internalization, a picture of progress from a morality enforced by external sanctions to one kept in place by internal vigilance. E. R. Dodds appropriated these categories for the study of ancient Greece and used them to distinguish between Homeric, archaic, and classical Greek society. Over the past several decades, however, classicists such as Hugh Lloyd-Jones and Bernard Williams have redefined the distinction between shame culture and guilt culture, aligning it more closely instead to the contrast Nietzsche draws between “master morality” and “slave morality.” The crux of the matter, as they see it, is not internalization of a single, cohesive moral scheme, but instead, a conflict between two opposed ethical paradigms, each reflective of a human desire for a different, conceivably incompatible good. The deciding factor is not internalization of the fear of punishment, but instead, the relative weight which a society tends to give to two potentially irreconcilable moral imperatives: compassion and ambition. This tension can be expressed in a variety of vocabularies: in Adkins’s terms, ‘cooperation’ vs. ‘competition’; in Nietzsche’s terms, ‘pity’ vs. ‘the will to power’. Nietzsche’s terms ‘master’ and ‘slave’ are too provocative to use without revision. Nevertheless, within the study of ancient Greece, over time, and often without much explicit acknowledgment, Nietzsche’s basic narrative in The Genealogy of Morals, the story of what he calls the ‘slave revolt in morals’, has come to displace Freud’s story of internalization and the emergence of conscience in Civilization and its Discontents as the paradigmatic account of the transition from shame culture to guilt culture.

16 May - Peter Mountford, University of Melbourne

On Holding a Spear

In the quadrangle of the Elisabeth Murdoch Building at the University of Melbourne stands a copy of the bronze god from Artemision.  Over the years scholars have disagreed over the identification of the god.  Hammond (1975), Robertson (1981), Boardman (1986) and Stewart (1990) identify the god as Zeus; Richter (1959) as Poseidon (or Zeus); Rolley (1986) as Poseidon; Pollitt (1972) avoids the issue by referring to the ‘Striding God of Artemision’.  This paper uses the way in which Greek vases show warriors and athletes holding spears, by concentrating on the position of the hand, to argue that the god is Poseidon.  It also considers figurines, especially of Zeus, and other artistic representations of Zeus and Poseidon in reaching this conclusion. The paper also considers how the statue was meant to be viewed and where it may have stood before being placed on the ship which sank off Artemision. The paper presents a brief overview of the finding and recovery of the statue.  It will be possible for members of the audience to view the bronze copy.  This may help them to assess the validity of the arguments being presented.

23 May - Roger Scott, University of Melbourne

Thucydides' Herodotean Wise Advisers

25 July - Antonio Sagona, University of Melbourne

Between Rigid Ideology and Emerging Elites: The Southern Caucasus in the Bronze Age

The Caucasus is mostly a jagged landscape defined by sweeping mountains, high plateaux, steppes and coastal plain that both enabled and constrained cultural connectivity. Positioned between Eurasia and the Near East, the region acted as a cultural bridgehead, nurturing distinctive and innovative societies. This lecture will discuss cultural developments spanning the Bronze Age in the southern Caucasus. Drawing on well-established sequences and new data, including those from Chobareti in the Upper Kura Valley in south-western Georgia, it will explain first the cultural interplay that defined the Early Bronze Age (Kura-Araxes complex). Matters germane to this period include the transfer of ideas versus the migration of people, cultural hybridity and entanglement, and mobility versus sedentism, and a rigid collective identity. Then it will explain the abandonment of these egalitarian traditions and values around ca. 2600/2500 BC. Elements of prestige, such as individual burials under barrows or in mortuary houses with wooden wheeled vehicles, point to a new social order expressed by growing inequality, emerging elites and, with them, images of war. Finally, mention will be made of the cultural watershed around 1600 BC, when fortresses emerged and political fragmentation set in.

1 August - David Runia, University of Melbourne

The Reception of Plato’s Phaedo: The Case of Philo of Alexandria

My talk is based on a lecture that I gave at the recent XIth Symposium of the International Plato society in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. The conference focused on Plato’s dialogue, the Phaedo, but very little attention was given to the aspect of the reception of this enormously influential work. I will outline the highly individual way that Philo utilises the dialogue for his own purposes, making use of the results of some important new research. I will also present some concluding remarks on how Philo’s usage relates to contemporary trends in Middle Platonism.

8 August - Marc Bonaventura, University of Melbourne

The Portrayal of the Trojans in Euripides' Hecuba

Scholars disagree over how the Greeks regarded non-Greeks in the Classical Period.  Some argue for a prominent Greek/barbarian polarity, whereas others focus on the extensive tradition of cultural interaction, influence, and exchange which the Greeks shared with the Near East. This paper will examine the portrayal of the Trojans in Euripides’ Hecuba and what it reveals about Greek attitudes towards non-Greeks in the late fifth century.  It will discuss Euripides’ use of the term barbaros and whether he associates the Trojans with tyranny or casts them as noble and admirable characters.  Then, it will analyse Euripides’ depiction of the Thracian king Polymestor, focusing on his impiety, savagery, violation of xenia, and parallels with the Homeric Cyclops.  Ultimately, it will compare the Trojan and Thracian portrayals and evaluate whether Euripides drew on contemporary barbarian stereotypes for his portraits of non-Greeks, commenting on what this indicates about the significance and prevalence of the Greek/barbarian polarity in late fifth-century Athens.

15 August - Patrick Finglass, University of Nottingham

A New Papyrus of Sophocles

This paper investigates the new papyrus of Sophocles' “Tereus” published in June 2016, which sheds considerable light on that drama and on Greek tragedy more generally.

22 August - Dean Hallett, University of Melbourne

Charging Chariots: Changes in Chariot Warfare in the Near East and Beyond

Many relatively modern myths surround the use of chariots in warfare in the ancient Near East. The realities of chariot warfare that we can glean from the archaeological record are both more practical, and at times stranger than we might at first assume. Just how important chariot warfare was for the powers of the Near Eastern Bronze Age and Iron Age is still a matter of debate. From early use as a mobile archery platform, different societies adopted refined and modified the chariot to suit their own styles in warfare or to counter those of their adversaries. The use of chariots spread out into neighbouring regions, taking on more variations on the core idea of what a war-chariot should do. After the Bronze Age collapse, chariots never again held the same influence on warfare in the Near East, but ancient people still refused to abandon chariots completely, continuing to experiment with chariot warfare in different ways.

5 September - Christopher Naunton, Egypt Exploration Society

One Man and His Tomb: Harwa, TT 37 and the Black Pharaohs

Ever wondered what all that jumble of mudbrick next to the road leading up the Hatshepsut temple is? Although largely ignored in favour of the 18th Dynasty temple - a magnet for tourists that draws their eyes away from everything else - these are the superstructures marking a group of extraordinary tombs, some of the largest and most beautifully decorated anywhere in Egypt. They belonged to some extraordinary individuals, including Harwa, first holder of the office of ‘Chief Steward of the God’s Wife of Amun’. Harwa’s tomb reflects his status in Thebes, the southern capital, at a time when the foreign, Kushite pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, ruled Egypt through a combination of military might and sometimes uneasy pacts with local rulers. The talk will explore the tomb, the man, and his times.

7 September - Katja Sporn, German Archaeological Institute at Athens

(special seminar at Babel G03 - Lower Theatre)

Aigina Kolonna: The Development from a Bronze Age Settlement into a Greek Sanctuary

Aigina is an island in the Saronic Gulf facing Attica and has been a major opponent of Athens in the Archaic Period. The site of Kolonna on the north-west coast of the island had been established already in the Neolithic period and has been the main settlement of Aigina since the Bronze Age. Due to its massive defensive wall, built in the Early Helladic Period and enlarged over a long period of time, and the connections with Asia Minor, Crete, the Cyclades, the Peloponnese and mainland Greece, it can be considered as one of the most important Bronze Age settlements in ancient Greece. Nevertheless, the settlement declined in the Late Helladic Period and, eventually, a sanctuary was established in its place. The only remaining column of a late archaic doric peripteros temple provided the site with its modern name Kolonna. The seminar will present an overview of the development of the site, with a special emphasis on the on-site geophysical and architectural investigations from 2011-2014.

12 September - Tanja van Loon, University of Melbourne

Ritual Practice in pre-Roman Central Italy: A Material Study of the Spring Sanctuary of Laghetto del Monsignore

Based on the abundant presence of votive deposits in the ancient world and beyond, there can be no doubt that the dedication of votive objects constituted a significant part of cultic activity. That the study of votive deposits is of utmost importance in our understanding of pre- and protohistoric sanctuaries is evident, as they often provide the only source of information on the ritual practices that took place at these cult places.

To gain insight in the ritual practice in the cult place, the complete assemblage of ritual objects in the votive deposits must be studied as a whole and placed in its wider context. This holistic approach proved successful for the case study of this paper, the cult place of Laghetto del Monsignore, a small spring sanctuary located near the ancient city of Satricum in Latium Vetus (Central Italy). Not only was it possible to differ between types of ritual objects and ritual practice; the thorough study of the complete assemblage also made it possible to study the diachronic development of these practices. The study of the materials indicated both continuity in traditional activities throughout the chronology of the cult place, including the offering of miniature pottery and the consummation of ritual meals followed by meat sacrifice, as well as more short-dated practices, such as the elite related banqueting ceremonies.

19 September - Gijs Tol, University of Melbourne

The Role of Minor Centres in the Roman Economy: The Results of Integrated Fieldwork at Two Road Stations Along the Via Appia

In this paper I assess the role of so-called minor centres (a container term for a wide variety of site types such as fora, stationes, mutationes) in local and regional settlement systems by discussing the results of an integrated programme of non-invasive field research (combining geophysical prospections, field walking, coring and ceramic studies) on two of such sites: the road stations of Forum Appii and Ad Medias situated along the Via Appia in the lower Pontine plain (Lazio, Central Italy). The results of the research suggest that, although exposing considerable differences in size, complexity and longevity between them, both sites performed crucial functions within local and regional economies. Forum Appii developed into a large settlement, covering c. 12 ha, providing goods and services for the surrounding population and during its existence obtained regional importance as a trade hub with the construction of a river port. Ad Medias, despite being much smaller and having a more restricted chronology, yielded ample evidence for artisanal activity. As such its prime function may have been to service both passers-by and the surrounding rural population.

3 October - Hyun Jin Kim, University of Melbourne

Ethnic Identity and the ‘Barbarian’ in Classical Greece and Early China

The ancient Greek world and its peoples were astonishingly heterogeneous. Ancient Greek society as we now know it was arguably the product of intense cultural and ethnic mixing and mutual inter-dependence and exchange between Greeks and non-Greeks. Thus, the representation(s) of ethnic identity among the Greek people(s) of the Mediterranean was inherently unstable and almost always open to negotiation and reinterpretation.  However, the term barbaros and oppositional identity (which was perhaps excessively magnified by modern commentators for rhetorical effect),  involving two, certainly problematic, but suitably vague and overarching categories (Greek and Barbarian), clearly do feature more prominently in Classical Greek literature than in the earlier Archaic Greek literature. Whether or not one sees this as amounting to strong antithetical ‘othering’, the practice of setting Greeks apart from ‘Barbarians’ (in most cases to the detriment of the ‘barbarians’) is detectable or at the very least alluded to in virtually all the classical sources that are available to us regardless of the possible pluralism of individual authors such as Herdotus and Sophocles. Why this is so and the historical context that brought about this phenomenon in Greek literature are the focal points of discussion of this paper. The reality of Greek- non-Greek interactions was of course likely to have been very different from this naïve dichotomy and in order to highlight the peculiarities of the Greek representation of themselves and foreigners a comparative perspective will be adopted. The ancient peoples of China like the Greeks also articulated for themselves an oppositional identity vis-à-vis the foreigners they encountered, in particular with regard to the formidable steppe empire of the Xiongnu whose ‘nomadic’ way of life presented a stark rhetorical and cultural contrast to the more ‘sedentary’ lifestyle of the Chinese inhabiting the Zhong Yuan. The Greek and Chinese representations of the foreigner will thus be compared and their distinguishing features analysed for further discussion.

10 October - Michelle Negus Cleary, University of Melbourne

Time and Place: Landscape Archaeology in the Southern Caucasus Mountains

The mountains of the southern Caucasus comprise an archaeological landscape characterised by continuity, destruction and renewal associated with adaptation to distinct ecological zones. The steep topography, high altitude grasslands, thickly forested areas and climatic extremes provide a unique set of challenges for societies inhabiting the highlands. Yet the material remains of past human occupation reveal  resourceful adaptation to, and exploitation of, the various highland ecotones during different episodes from the prehistoric periods to the present day.

The Landscape Archaeology in Georgia Project (LAG) is a collaborative archaeological survey project that investigates diachronic human-landscape interactions in the highlands of southern Caucasia. The project has focused on the highland zone between Akhaltsikhe and Aspindza in Samstkhe-Javakheti region over four field seasons between 2013 and 2016.

The aim of the LAG Project is to locate, record and study human occupation of the region’s varied ecologies and to analyse how these changed through time due to political, economic and environmental fluctuations. LAG employs a varied range of survey and recording techniques to document an array of features including settlements, artefacts, architecture, roadways, terracing and burial monuments.

This paper will present some of the preliminary results of our surveys and analyses that aim to reconstruct the establishment and continuity of settlements and examine the nature and duration of occupation and land use in the rural highlands. Many sites and places have undergone significant change and re-use over the centuries, and there are identifiable agro-pastoral subsistence and production strategies that are recurrent. The medieval and prehistoric periods are particularly well represented in the archaeological landscape and comparison between these and subsequent periods can provide insights into the fluctuations in occupation of the entire landscape, and the importance of place and memory through time.

17 October - Professor Carole Newlands, University of Colorado

Ovid and Anna Perenna on the Ides of March (Fast. 3.523-710)

For most people, the Ides of March means the assassination of Julius Caesar.  But surprisingly, in Ovid’s calendar poem the Fasti, the poet highlights the festival of the ancient Roman goddess Anna Perenna and narrates at length the obscure origins of this goddess (3.523-696); Anna is given 174 lines, Caesar’s murder and subsequent deification 14 lines (3.697-710). Drawing on theories of time and cultural memory, as well as on the recent discovery of Anna Perenna’s shrine in Rome, this paper will explore Ovid’s bold literary political and literary strategies in manipulating the Julian calendar.

31 October  - Professor Peter Pormann, University of Manchester

The Role of Syriac in the Transmission of Greek Medical Texts to the Arab World

Syriac-speaking Christians played a fundamental role in the transmission of medical knowledge from Greek into Arabic, yet it is only recently that historians of ancient medicine have begun to study their contribution. This seminar will explore three aspects: the general background to the Graeco-Syriac translation movements of the sixth and ninth centuries; the Syriac and Arabic translations of Galen’s On Simple Drugs as an example of this movement; and finally the developments in translation technique as exemplified through the Hippocratic Aphorisms.