Ancient World Seminar 2010

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

Papers for 2010

9 March
Andreas Mehl
, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
From Greek to Roman and Latin: The Beginning of Roman Historiography and its Consequences

16 March
Louise Hitchcock
, University of Melbourne
The 2009 season of the University of Melbourne and Bar-Ilan University excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath

23 March
Armin Schmidt
, University of Bradford
“Why don't you just dig it?”—archaeological prospection at Pessinus, Anatolia

30 March
Peter Mountford
, University of Melbourne
Maecenas condemnatus

13 April
Claudia Sagona
, University of Melbourne
Looking for Mithra in Malta

20 April
Edward Jeremiah
, University of Melbourne
Reflexive Man and His Reflexive Gods: The Philosophical Use of Reflexivity in Antiquity

27 April
David Pritchard
, University of QueenslandCosting Festivals and War: Spending Priorities of the Athenian Democracy


In Die Staatshaushaltung der Athener of 1817 August Boeckh famously criticised the Athenians for spending more money on festivals than on their armed forces. As evidence, he cited the claim of Demosthenes that the Athenian dēmos or people spent more on the City Dionysia and Great Panathenaea than on a single naval expedition (4.35-7) and the suggestion of Plutarch that this city had spent more on producing tragedies than on maintaining their empire (Moralia 349a).

Interest in the cost of festivals has only been rekindled with the cultural turn in the study of ancient theatre. Classicists have recently costed the City Dionysia and, in light of their unexpectedly high estimates, endorsed the criticism of Boeckh. In so doing, they have called into question the consensus of military historians. They may have shied away from estimating the global cost of war, but they do believe it far exceeded spending on all other public activities combined.

In this illustrated seminar Dr David Pritchard adjudicates this debate by estimating and comparing systematically, for the first time, the costs of the festivals of classical Athens and its armed forces. At stake is nothing less than whether this famous city was more committed to religious festivals, and the cultural pursuits which they supported, or to the waging of war. The conclusions are disturbing and cast a long shadow over what was the most fully developed democracy of premodern times.

This seminar is based on a long chapter in H. van Wees, P.J. Rhodes, D. Pritchard, P. Fawcett and G. Oliver 2010 (in press), Public Finance in Ancient Athens, 594 BC to AD 14, Oxford (Oxford University Press). (Contract signed 29.10.2009 and ISBN 978-0-19-958915-9.) A preprint of this chapter can be downloaded from UQ eSpace at

Biographical note

Dr David Pritchard is Senior Lecturer in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics and a member of the Cultural History Project at The University of Queensland. Before taking up this post, David had a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Sydney, where he co-founded the Sydney Democracy Forum, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Macquarie University, where he gained his PhD in Ancient History. His research interests cover the cultural and social history of classical Athens, participation in its democracy, the ancient Olympics and the armed forces of Athens during its age of empire. He has edited War, Culture and Democracy in Classical Athens (Cambridge University Press 2010, in press), co-authored, with P.J. Rhodes, H. van Wees, P. Fawcett and G. Oliver, Public Finance in Ancient Athens, 594 BC to AD 14 (Oxford University Press 2010, in press) and co-edited, with D.J. Phillips, Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World (Classical Press of Wales 2003). He is currently completing a monograph on sport, war and democracy in classical Athens for Cambridge University Press.

4 May
Trudie Fraser
, University of Melbourne
Faces of Power: The Coins of Five Augustae

11 May
Esref Abay
, Ege UniversityThe Results of the Upper Meander Basin Survey and New Excavations at Beycesultan, Southwestern Anatolia

18 May
John Penwill
, Latrobe University
Inside the Mind of an Assassin: The Letters of Chion of Heraclea

25 May
Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides
, Monash University
Apollonius Rhodius and the Near East

Thursday 22 July
Prof. Katherine Dunbabbin
, McMaster University
The Dionysiac Banquet in the Graeco-Roman East

10 August
Robert Laffineur
, University of Liège (AAIA Visiting Professor)
Early Mycenaean Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean

17 August
Dianne Fitzpatrick
, University of Melbourne
A Management Plan for Near Eastern Artefact Collections

24 August
Heather Jackson
, University of Melbourne
Recent Excavations at Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates by the University of Melbourne and the ANU

31 August
Tom Davis
, Cyprus-American Archaeological Research Institute
Current Cypriot Archaeology

7 September
Rhiannon Evans
, University of Melbourne
Look Who's Coming as Dinner: Roman Texts and Human Flesh

14 September
Peter Acton
, University of Melbourne
The Structure of Manufacturing in Classical Athens

28 September
Ina Berg
, University of Manchester
Towards a Conceptualisation of the Sea in Prehistoric Greece: Imagery, Artefacts and Meaning

5 October
Jason Adams
, University of Melbourne
Theatra Urbis: The Theatres of the City of Rome

12 October
Sarah Gador-White
, University of Melbourne
Metaphor and Recapitulation in the Kontakia of Romanos

The idea of recapitulation, that Jesus summed up human existence in himself, is a central facet of the theological thought of Romanos the Melodist, a sixth-century hymn-writer. By focusing on particular metaphors used in the corpus of kontakia (clothing and nakedness, blindness, the opening door and others), this paper argues that Romanos used the device of metaphor as a figure for recapitulation. The way metaphor works mirrors the workings of his theological concept.

19 October
Kristal Flemming
, University of Melbourne
Before Alexander: Greeks in Saïte (664-525BCE) Egypt

Long before Alexander the Great, Greek mercenaries were leaving their homelands to establish a new way of life in Egypt. The mercenaries settled throughout Egypt and brought their families; Greek traders soon followed and were based at the trading port of Naukratis. Ancient written sources are adamant that the Greek settlers were heavily marginalised; however, the archaeological evidence offers a more complex story. Funerary stelae, inscribed votives, graffiti and pottery finds have given insight into the degree of influence the Greek and Egyptian cultures had on each other. The evolution of the religious, cultural and ethnic identity of the Greeks and Egyptians of Saïte Egypt will be the focus of this presentation.

26 October
Aleks Michalewicz
, University of Melbourne
Burial Practice at the Samtavro Cemetery in Caucasian Iberia

2:15, Friday 10 December, Babel Building, Room 204 (note time and venue)
Michael Crennan
, University of Melbourne
English Tacitus: 1600-1960

In early modern Europe, Tacitus was thought to provide a new and distinctive insight into the secrets of power, particularly that wielded by secretive and autocratic regimes. His aphoristic style and interest in the arcana imperii and dissimulation as a mode of statecraft, particularly in his portrait of Tiberius, influenced both political thought and the theory and practice of history. The writings of Jonson, Bacon, Hayward, Ralegh, Trenchard and Gordon and the vagaries of his reputation from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries are closely examined to investigate and explain the reception of his writings in England.