Ancient World Seminar

Erechtheion, Acropolis, Athens
(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.


K.O. Chong-Gossard:


Arts West 156 north wing, unless noted otherwise.

2020 Programme

9 March

Dr Haskel Greenfield, University of Manitoba, Canada

Daily Life in Early Bronze Age Canaan: New Evidence from the Early Bronze Age III Urban Centre at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel

This lecture will present the recently gathered evidence for the nature of early urban settlements, their internal organization and the early Canaanite culture in the southern Levant during the Early Bronze Age II-III period (3100-2500 BCE) based on the recently concluded large-scale excavations at the archaeological site of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel.  Most famous as Gath of the Philistines (Goliath’s hometown), Tell es-Safi/Gath was one of the largest walled cities in the region during the period.  The excavations uncovered part of a large neighbourhood at the east end of the site with small sturdy multi-room houses built around a courtyard.  It was originally thought that this is where the urban poor lived, yet its occupants had access to exotic trade goods from as far away as Egypt, used various recording methods, sacrificed unusual and expensive animals and built and maintained the neighbourhood over a long period of time.  The results of the excavation suggest that Tell es-Safi/Gath was an important political and economic centre in this region from its earliest occupation until it was abandoned c. 2500 BCE along with all other major urban centres throughout the region.

Haskel J. Greenfield is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of Judaic Studies at the University of Manitoba and Co-Director of the Near Eastern and Biblical Archaeology Lab at St. Paul’s College, Winnipeg, Canada.  He is an anthropological archaeologist whose research focuses on the evolution of early agricultural and complex societies in the Old World (Europe, Africa and Asia) from the Neolithic through the Iron Age, while at the same time delving into the butchering practices of early humans in the New and Old Worlds.  Geographically, his research covers a large swath of Old World societies, from Europe through the Near East and into Africa and investigates a range of topics including the evolution of food production and food processing technologies, colonization of new landscapes and intra-settlement organization.  He has just completed the decade-long excavations of the Early Bronze Age city at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel, the Canaanite precursor of the famous Philistine site of ancient Gath (home of Biblical Goliath), with his co-director Prof. Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.

16 March

Emeritus Professor Ronald Ridley, University of Melbourne

Goethe's Italienische Reise (Italian Journey), the Greatest Journal of an Eighteenth-century Traveller to Rome

Of all the outstanding travelers to Italy, most especially Rome, in the eighteenth century, Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) has left us the most impressive account of all, the magnificent Italienische Reise (Italian journey), in a splendid translation by Elisabeth Mayer, also republished by Penguin.  Goethe spent some fifteen months in Rome in all (1786-1788) and tells us not only what he saw but how he saw it (some fascinating secrets) and why it was important.  At the same time he was immersed in a most active life as author and artist, with a very involved emotional life.  We will visit with him not only classical sites but also the modern city.

23 March

Professor Louise Hitchcock, University of Melbourne

12th-century BCE Mediterranean Architecture: From Sicily to Safi

30 March

Dr Emily Hulme Kozey, Ormond College, Seymour Reader

Consumer Fraud in the Marketplace of Ideas: Plato on Rhetoric and Sophistry

6 April

Larissa Tittl (PhD completion seminar)

Negotiating the Natural: Material Culture and the Making of Sacred Landscapes in Bronze Age Crete

20 April

Jacob Heywood (PhD completion seminar)

The Context and Significance of Iconography on Late Minoan III Cretan Larnakes

27 April

Via Zoom.  Email for connection details.

Professor David Runia, Professorial Honorary Fellow, SHAPS and Dr Edward Jeremiah

Aetius’ Placita: How Melbourne Contributed to a New Edition of a Key Ancient Text after 140 Years

Professor Runia and Dr Jeremiah speak about their contributions to the new edition and commentary on the doxographer Aëtius (1st-2nd cent. AD), which Professor Runia has been working on for 30 years. The book is due to be published in mid-2020.

Professor David T. Runia was Master of Queen's College at The University of Melbourne from 2002 to 2016, and is now a Professorial Fellow in SHAPS.  Dr Edward Jeremiah completed his PhD in Classics at UniMelb in 2010 and has collaborated with David in this research project for many years.

4 May

No meeting.

11 May

Via Zoom.  Email for connection details.

Michael Hayes, PhD candidate, Ancient History, Macquarie University

Religious Change in 18th Dynasty Egypt

The anonymous author of the Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage, writing at the threshold of the triumphal 18th Dynasty era, dared, for the first time in Egyptian history, to abandon once-trusted ancestral wisdom. Driven by new necessities, he sought new solutions. Writ large, his anxious, altered approach exposed the fiercer wellsprings of the early New Kingdom’s own daring: despair and destiny, aggression and aggrandisement. His nation would no longer cower before the unprecedented humiliation of a foreign ruler occupying Lower Egypt and another pressing on its southern frontiers.

Galvanised by its early successes in technology, tactics and strategy, this emergent Bronze Age superpower was cast on an unchartered, restless trajectory with profound religious consequences. This involved a growing personal devotion by the co-regents, Thutmose III and Hatshepsut, to the gods, and in particular, Amun-Re. Both felt deeply indebted to Amun for their ascension and their successes in war and peace. As a result, Egypt had extended its boundaries to the limits of the ‘known’ world. This age of empire engendered an unrivalled building program, and led to the climactic deification of a later living pharaoh, Amenhotep III. Egypt had come to the edge of, what Jan Assmann has called, ‘the crisis of polytheism’. (1983/1995) His son, Amenhotep IV, in becoming ‘Akhenaten’ and founding a new capital, had crossed over this brink into a radical religious experience and expression; a literal 180 degree shift away from Egypt’s familiar alignment of beliefs and practices. His altered religious and political behaviour reframed, figuratively and historically, a new stage of Egyptian religion, the first recorded ‘monotheism’, and an aftermath of trauma which, within a generation, would overwhelm and extinguish this turbulent dynasty.

After teaching in metropolitan and regional high schools for over 30 years, Michael Hayes was Senior Curriculum Officer (History) at the NSW Educational Standards Authority (NESA) as Project Manager for the current NSW K–10 History Syllabus incorporating the Australian Curriculum. He has written The Egyptians (Australian and American editions) and co-authored Ancient History and Legal Studies textbooks. Currently, after completing a Master of Research, he is researching on the significance of light in ancient Egypt, especially under the reign of Akhenaten, as a prospective doctoral candidate at Macquarie University. His interests include change and trauma in New Kingdom Egypt as well as twentieth- and twenty-first century philosophies of history.

18 May

Via Zoom.  Email for connection details.

National Archaeology Week - Louise Hitchcock & Dr Brent Davis, Honorary Fellows & Students

Reports on Recent Field Work

* Prof Louise Hitchcock - "Naue II Swords, Germs, and Iron: What Covid 19 Can Tell Us About the Bronze Age Collapse"

* Dr Jarrad Paul - "Worked Animal Bone of the Neolithic North Aegean"

* Jacob Heywood - "The Sissi Archaeological Project: 2019 Field Season"

* Dr Brent Davis - "Area B at Tell es-Safi/Gath"

* Assoc Prof Andrew Jamieson - "Archaeology at the Frontiers: the 2019 Season at Rabati, Southern Caucasus"

* Dr Gijs Tol - "A crafting community in inland Tuscany: excavations at Podere Marzuolo"

* Maddi Harris-Schober - "Legio: Excavations at the Camp of the Roman Sixth Ferrata Legion in Israel 2019"

25 May

Via Zoom.  Email for connection details.

Professor Yasmin Haskell, University of Western Australia

What's New In Neo-Latin?

The field of neo-Latin studies has experienced significant growth in the Anglosphere over the past two decades, having previously been a more contained and especially continental European specialism. What is ‘neo-Latin’ and why is it of increasing interest to classicists, classical receptionists, comparativists, and historians? In this paper I will offer a snapshot of the field at 2020; survey its significance for areas as diverse as history of religion, drama, medicine and science, and for historical periods from the Italian Renaissance through the colonial Americas and Ming China to Italian fascism. What are the attractions of and potential misconceptions about neo-Latin for curious classicists? And finally, how has the advent of Google books and other digital libraries and resources revolutionised the possibilities for research in neo-Latin down under?

Yasmin Haskell is Cassamarca Foundation Chair of Latin Humanism at the University of Western Australia (to which she returned in 2019 after two years as Chair of Latin and Director of the Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition at the University of Bristol). She has published books and articles on Latin didactic and epic, the history of psychiatry and emotions, the reception of classical authors, and Latin in the Enlightenment. Her next book, Jesuits at Play: Latin Poetry and Team Spiritin the Early Modern Society of Jesus is in preparation for Bloomsbury. She is also editing a Latin epic (for Brill’s Jesuit Latin Library) on the expulsion of the Jesuits from the Americas in the eighteenth century.