Ancient World Seminar 2022

Trajan's Column, Rome
(Photograph: Andrew Stephenson)

2022 Programme

14 March

Peter Mountford, The University of Melbourne

Caesuras and Sense Pauses in Virgil’s Hexameters: An Examination of Passages in the Aeneid

Much teaching of the scansion of Virgil’s hexameters has centred on the written versions of the Aeneid.  Teaching has focussed on the main caesura in the third foot as the sense pause in the line e.g. Nussbaum (1986).  The scansion of all the complete lines of the Aeneid suggests that, while the sense pause and the caesura in the third foot do coincide, this is the case in less than half the lines.  Quintilian (Inst. 11.3.35-8) gives us a brief insight into the way in which pauses were used in reading the Aeneid. This and the presenter’s scansion of all the lines suggest that Virgil displays great flexibility in the use of pauses.  This paper examines a small number of passages to illustrate that this is the case. The paper suggests that students should be encouraged to consider the way in which the poem would be delivered orally rather than focussing on the written form.  The paper also aims to show Virgil’s mastery of the

Peter Mountford spent his working life teaching Classics in schools in the UK and Melbourne.  He was head of Classics at Melbourne Grammar School for the last ten years before early retirement in 2002.  He then undertook an MA at the University of Melbourne (completed in 2005) on Issues of Leadership in Virgil’s Aeneid.  This was followed by a part-time PhD at the University of Melbourne on the topic ‘Maecenas and his Circle of Poets: An Etruscan Presence in Augustan Rome.’  His doctorate was awarded in 2016.  During this period he lectured in Latin and Classical Studies at both the University of Melbourne and Monash University.  In 2019 Routledge published his biography of Maecenas.  He has been involved in various roles for the VCAA in both Latin and Classical Studies for over forty years.  He has been chief examiner and chief assessor for Latin for many years.  In 2018 he rewrote the VCE Study Design for Latin.

21 March

Frederik Vervaet, The University of Melbourne

Constitutional Innovation During the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE): Some Unintended Consequences

The severe crises and challenges of the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE) prompted the traditionally conservative Roman Senate to introduce several institutional innovations, some ad hoc, for a single purpose, others eventually becoming structural fixtures of the republican machinery of state. This paper endeavors to single out and discuss those novelties that would have significant if unintended consequences in the late Republic, as they served as precedents for some of the most contested extraordinary empowerments arrogated by a number of autocratic strongmen, from Sulla Felix to Augustus Caesar.

Frederik Vervaet received his PhD from Ghent University as a Research Fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders. After graduation he moved to UC Berkeley where he spent the academic years 2002-2004 as Francqui Fellow of the Belgian American Educational Foundation and Lecturer in the Departments of Classics (Fall 2003) and History (Spring 2004). This was followed by a three-year stint as Assistant Professor back at Ghent University, including a term at Oxford as Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College and Research Associate of the Classics Centre. He joined Melbourne's School of Philosophical and Historical Studies in June 2007, where he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in May 2011 and in October 2015 to Associate Professor. Amongst his many outstanding achievements here, one of the most significant was the award in 2020 of an ARC DP grant for the project Augustus and the Roman Triumph: A Study in Creeping Authoritarianism.

28 March

Emily Poelina-Hunter, LaTrobe University

Ngayoo Wiliyanoo: I am the Freshwater Mussel

This project merges two of my academic research fields: Aboriginal studies and archaeology. It aims to honour my totemic responsibilities, as the freshwater mussel (wiliyanoo in Nyikina) from the Fitzroy River (Mardoowarra) is my totem. Gaining the knowledge to understand and protect wiliyanoo is an important cultural aspect of totemic relationships and an individual as well as communal responsibility. Because wiliyanoo is my totem, I cannot eat it, and I have a responsibility to ensure its survival for the next generation, just as my family and Elders have done before me. The Ngayoo Wiliyanoo project will investigate how freshwater mussels are used by Aboriginal Nyikina people. When I say ‘used’ I mean: a) how and why they were harvested, cooked, and eaten; b) how and why the shells were used in cultural identity making – through using them as adornments (e.g. by piercing the shells and stringing them into necklaces), and if the shells were used as tools for body modification like hair-cutting, shaving, scarification, piercing, or blood-letting for medicinal and ceremonial reasons; and c) how and why the shells were used to process animal skins and vegetation. By reviewing the existing literature on the archaeological findings of freshwater mussel use in other Aboriginal communities in Australia, I hope to create a methodology for applying similar techniques to wiliyanoo research in Nyikina country in the Kimberley, Western Australia.

Dr Emily Poelina-Hunter is currently a Lecturer in the Aboriginal Studies discipline at La Trobe University, Melbourne. She applies Indigenous Standpoint Theory to her interdisciplinary research, and is passionate about decolonisation and reconciliation, recently becoming a member of the Reconciliation Victoria Board. Dr Poelina-Hunter has a background in classical archaeology, and her PhD thesis specialised in Cycladic sculptures (from the Aegean Early Bronze Age) and their capacity to reflect ancient tattooing and body modification practices. On graduating in December 2019, she became the third Aboriginal
Australian to achieve a PhD in archaeology.

4 April

Joseph Lehner, University of Sydney

Return to Cape Gelidonya and New Insights into Bronze Age Maritime Cultures of the Mediterranean

The ship that sank at Cape Gelidonya (Turkey) ca. 1200 BC is one of only three known wrecks dating to the Late Bronze Age, though this was an era of intensive overseas exchange in the Mediterranean. The shipwreck was among the first to be scientifically excavated, when in 1960 George Bass announced to the world the exciting discoveries he made. Newer discoveries at Cape Gelidonya have now shed new light onto this important site, and cutting-edge scientific analyses of the cargo now gives us brand new insight into Bronze Age technologies and trade networks. Even more, we get a view into the life of a maritime metal at the end of the Bronze Age when the Bronze Age empires of the Mediterranean and Near East experienced significant upheaval, and societies more broadly reorganized into a mosaic of novel social and political forms. This presentation places the Cape Gelidonya shipwreck in its cultural and historical context, revealing how production, transportation, and trade are linked in maritime cultures of this crucial time period and what new problems now emerge in the study of ancient societies in this dynamic region.

Joseph (Seppi) Lehner is an anthropological archaeologist who specializes in early complex societies of southwestern Asia and a DECRA Fellow at the Department of Archaeology at The University of Sydney. As an affiliated scholar of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Seppi is an assistant director of the Cape Gelidonya Project and coordinator of the associated archaeometallurgy program. He finished his PhD at the UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and is a past Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor Fellow at the University of Tübingen and a Senior Fellow at the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations at Koç University in Istanbul. By adapting and developing new methods in materials science and geochemistry, his work explores the development of early economies, trade, and technology, in particular the innovations and development of metallurgy. After starting his first field work in the North American Arctic, Seppi has worked across the Near East, northeast Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, and India. He currently co-directs fieldwork projects.

11 April

Gustavo Vivas García, Universidad de La Laguna

Ronald Syme: The Historian, the Man, and His ‘Lack’ of Method

At the age of sixteen, the young Ronald Syme  contracted a severe case of the measles and feared he would lose his eyesight; indeed, he suffered partial loss of vision in his left eye due to the illness. As a result, he became determined to memorize as much information as possible – in fact, anything he read at all – since the incident scarred him with the fear that he would lose his eyesight altogether. Syme's prodigious memory is one of his defining traits and is frequently touched upon. Throughout his life, his quest for precision in the wealth of information provided in his articles and case studies, aided by his photographic memory, was one of the permanent features of his particular way of perceiving and writing History. This talk aims to be a journey through the vital and academic trajectory of a scholar who has influenced, like few others, the way in which we write and analyze the history of ancient Rome today.

Gustavo A. Vivas García holds an M.A. in Ancient History (Universidad Autónoma of Madrid) and a PhD at La Laguna University (Canary Islands. Spain). He has been teaching part-time in that University since 2015. His PhD has become a monograph, published by the University of Barcelona. His M.A. thesis dealt with the political role of the elite women (e.g. Octavia and Cleopatra), during the triumviral period and has been published as a monograph. He has researched  specially on the social and political history of the Late Republic and Early Roman Empire, and in the history of Classics and Ancient History.

2 May

Donna Storey, The University of Melbourne

Here at the Borderland: Exploring Pre and Post Fascist Use of romanità in Italian Political Propaganda

From the placement of the Ara Pacis along the Tiber near the Mausoleo di Augusto, to replica bronze statues of Caesar and Augustus along the Via dei Fori Imperiali, to the imposing Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (the ‘Square Colosseum’) in the EUR district, it is easy to spot visual representations of Italian Fascist use of romanità when wandering around Rome. Additionally, during his time as the dictatorial Italian Prime Minister, Mussolini also utilised ancient Rome in speeches, education, public works, and particularly in rhetoric surrounding the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, and the Fascist quest to create a new Roman Empire. Everywhere, and just about everything, had the touch of romanità during the ventennio fascista, or the twenty years of Fascist rule.

Where did this Fascist fixation with romanità come from? This seminar examines the development of romanità in the fifteen years prior to Mussolini taking power in 1922. In particular, it will focus on northern Italy and irredentist Ettore Tolomei, who demonstrated a seemingly endless obsession with Drusus and of using romanità in propaganda to firstly, justify the annexation of South Tyrol to Italy from Austria, and secondly, once that had occurred after World War One, to undertake a forced Italianisation on the mainly German speaking population. The seminar will explore whether or not Tolomei can be considered a predecessor of, and therefore influence on, the Fascist use of romanità, or whether Mussolini and Tolomei jointly seized on the romanità concept to separately further their distinct ideological ambitions.

Donna Storey is a PhD candidate at The University of Melbourne, examining fascist and pre-fascist use of romanità in Italian political propaganda, between the years 1906 – 1925. Her research examines the manner in which romanità was utilised to connect the politics, structure and society of ancient Rome with modern Italy so as to justify ambitions of territorial expansion and cultural domination. Donna currently works part time as a librarian in the Classics Library at Melbourne and is also a lawyer, having recently established her own law firm together with her husband Matthew.

9 May

Dan Zhao, The University of Cambridge

Politicising Slavery and Manumission in Rome and China: A Comparison of Augustus and Wang Mang

Between 17 BCE and 9 CE, Augustus promulgated several laws regulating and restricting the manumission of slaves and reforming various aspects of the post-manumission relationship between freed slaves and their former owners: Lex Iunia [Norbana] (~17 BCE), Lex Fufia Caninia (2 BCE), Lex Aelia Sentia (4 CE), and Lex Papia Poppaea (9 CE). Exactly why Augustus wished to restrict the freeing of slaves is indeed perplexing, and nearly every dedicated study on this topic has produced a different understanding of these puzzling reforms. Theories ranging from demographic, economic, and ideological have all been raised. However, none of these competing theories has so far dominated our understanding of the Augustan manumission laws.

Around the same time on the other side of the world, the Chinese emperor Wang Mang (r. 9-23 CE), a usurper and sole emperor of the short-lived Xin dynasty, also issued an edict on freeing slaves. In contrast to Augustus, however, the famous edict of 9 CE forcefully condemned and outlawed slavery. This paper will examine why ancient Rome and China diverged so drastically on the issue of slavery and make some preliminary observations on the politics of freeing slaves in these two empires. By examining the political aspects of slavery and manumission with a comparative approach, this paper hopes to raise a new interpretation of the enigmatic Augustan manumission laws.

Dan originally completed a Bachelor of Commerce and worked in the banking industry for several years before returning to university to study ancient history. He completed a MA at the University of Melbourne, focusing on the portrayal of foreigners and ‘barbarians’ in the imperial propaganda of Augustus and Qin Shi Huangdi. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, where his thesis examines slaves and freed slaves in Roman politics.

16 May

National Archaeology Week Presentations

Chloe Stringer. ‘Investigating river resource-use and changing environments on the Murray River’. Live.
Sclerochronology, the study of growth patterns and associated geochemistry in the accretionary hard tissues of biological organisms, such as mollusc shell, is a technique which can provide high resolution information about past environments. Its application to archaeological shell material allows for an analysis of the connection between past humans, their climatic conditions, and their use of resources.
In this presentation, Chloe Stringer will provide a brief overview of her PhD research project which applies the technique of sclerochronology to shell remains excavated from Ngintait and First Peoples of the Millewa Mallee Country, in the Central Murray Basin, to investigate past river-resource use and environmental change. She will also discuss recent field work undertaken as part of a modern calibration study.

Laura Pisanu. ‘The Bronze and Early Iron Age settlement dynamics in south Montiferru and northern Campidano Valley regions (Sardinia, Italy)’. Live.Since the 1600 BC Nuragic groups seemed to have inhabited the south Montiferru and north Campidano regions (western Sardinia). During this time, they built stone towers, colossal tombs, and settlements. The construction of a large number of Nuragic monuments at the research area, as well as the complex architectural features of them, led earlier scholarship to suppose that Nuragic groups were hierarchically organised between the 1600 to the 900 BC. In order to better extent the economic and social aspects of Bronze and Early Iron Age communities in Western Sardinia, my research project aims at investigating reasons behind choices of Nuragic buildings’ locating and how they changed between the 16th and the 10th century BC. Therefore, I present preliminary data from topographic surveys which is a continuing part of my PhD research. The fieldwork activities involved 46 Nuragic sites, and the results of artefacts and monuments analysis may highlight the role of Nuragic control over resources, interactions with fortified sites, and overseas connections.

Emily Tour. ‘‘Let’s talk about clay, baby’: An investigation into the origins of Linear B’s administrative devices’. Live.

Tom Keep. ‘Recent Heritage 3D Modelling and Photogrammetry Projects: The University of Melbourne, The Hellenic Museum, and the Mernda VR Project’. Recording.

Lily Nash. ‘Connecting the Dots on the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape’. Recording.

23 May

Giovanni Piccolo, The University of Melbourne

Imperialism and Propaganda in Solinus’ Collectanea

Julius Solinus’ Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium is a description of the known world - containing elements of zoology, mineralogy, botany, and anthropology (mostly adapted from Mela’s Chorographia and Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, but partly of unknown origin) – written at some point in the 3rd or 4th century A.D. The structure of the work sees Solinus’ description originate from a centre (Rome) and follow an anticlockwise spiral movement that proceeds by regions, rather than in the form of a periplus. Often described as an epitome of Pliny’s Natural History, this text has been neglected (and at times ridiculed) by Latin literature textbooks since, at least, its latest edition by Theodor Mommsen in 1895. The purpose of the present research is to change the way in which we read Julius Solinus’ Collectanea: no longer an abridged version of Pliny’s encyclopaedia, but a geographical treatise in its own right, with a clear message on the role of Rome in the context of the author’s worldview.

Giovanni Piccolo graduated in 2008 from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” with a Master’s degree in Classical Philology. There, he developed an interest in Roman geography and was first introduced to Julius Solinus and the studies surrounding the sources of the Collectanea Rerum Memorabilium. Giovanni moved to Melbourne in 2009, where he began working as a teacher of Latin and Italian in secondary schools. He is now at the completion stage of a PhD at the University of Melbourne under the supervision of Prof. Tim Parkin. His thesis deals with the role of Roman imperialism in Solinus’ Collectanea.

25 July

Laura Pisanu, The University of Melbourne

Fieldwork Activities in Sardinia (Italy): Investigating Settlement Dynamics of Bronze and Early Iron Age Nuragic Communities

During the Bronze and Early Iron Ages (16th-9th century BC), Sardinia was inhabited by communities that built nuraghe and had economic and cultural relationships with western and eastern Mediterranean societies. The southern Montiferru and north Campidano regions (west Sardinia) were densely inhabited over that time, when Nuragic groups constructed towers (nuraghe), settlements, and megalithic tombs. To extend our knowledge of the economic and social aspects of these communities, I am investigating through fieldwork the reasons behind the choices of locations for towers and settlements, how the area
was occupied across the centuries, and which resources might have been exploited. The fieldwork activities, in which I have been joined by two students of Ancient World Studies (University of Melbourne), consist of systematic surveys at Nuragic sites. In this way artefacts, architectural fragments, and buildings are documented by means of drawings, photos, and descriptions that meet the modern scientific standards. Then data collected in the field are daily fed into spatial databases created using QGIS software. In this presentation, I shall illustrate the activities above described through images directly from the research area where the fieldwork activities are in progress.

Laura is a PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne working on Nuragic settlements in the Montiferru area and interactions and relationships between Sardinia and Eastern Mediterranean Sea over the Bronze and Early Iron Age. She undertook special studies at the Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni Archeologici (University of Cagliari), and obtained a master’s degree in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage at the University of Cagliari.

1 August

Martin Carnovale, The University of Melbourne

An Investigation and Critique of Archaeological Methods

Archaeology uses many concepts and methods of interpretation that can be classified as qualitative. But many qualitative discussions are actually quantitative, even without their authors’ realising it. Qualitative arguments can sometimes be based upon inductive generalisations that may be formed without any knowledge of calculus, statistics or probability. If historical and ancient texts do not tell us what an artefact meant, there is no scientific ground for interpretation of the cultural meanings of the artefact; instead, one must use analogies or refer to cross-cultural social trends. The interpretation and translation of cultural artefacts and texts can often require certain concepts to be universal regardless of experience, otherwise one cannot translate anything. Certain forms of knowledge such as the colour red are universal because colour vision is dependent upon the biology of our senses; however, cultural and metaphysical concepts are socially acquired and dependent upon language and social activity. Even if one holds that cultural experiences and concepts between languages are relative, one cannot escape the reification of universal categories, classifications and concepts when translating other cultures and interpreting artefacts. An absence of mathematical and statistical rigour in certain forms of humanistic scholarship can lead to authors’ making inductive generalisations of a poor statistical nature that impinges upon the credibility of interpretations. One might mistake particulars of cultural phenomena for statistical trends despite never using statistical methods; and one might unconsciously assume that these trends behave like social laws. Hence, I critique the humanities for disguising quantitative reasoning as qualitative.

Martin Carnovale is a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, studying archaeology. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology and wrote an Honours thesis on Minoan Crete.

8 August

Thomas Davies,  University of Melbourne

A Uniform Hieroglyphic: Egyptian Origins in (and of?) Greek Philosophy

Greek philosophy begins in a search for origins: for the single, primordial substance from which the world came to be. For Thales, whom Aristotle calls 'the founder of this kind of philosophy', it was water; for Anaximenes air; for Anaximander, the boundless ἄπειρον that lies outside the ordered cosmos. This debate was new in the Aegean--but it was old in the wider Mediterranean world. Between the 16th and 11th centuries BCE, Egyptian intellectuals developed several theories of a primordial substance from which the world was made: some held it was water, some air, and some a boundless body surrounding our cosmos. In this talk, I show how the Milesians could have encountered this discourse, and consider how this encounter might have shaped the form and content of their work.

Thomas Davies was educated at the University of Otago and at Princeton University, where he obtained his doctorate in Classics and Humanistic Studies in 2020. Following an appointment as lecturer at the Yale-NUS College in Singapore, in 2022 he was appointed Seymour Reader in Ancient History and Philosophy at the University of Melbourne.

15 August

Ash Finn, University of Melbourne

‘Let him buy it back with his blood and his own life’: Revenge and the Competition for Honour among Sub-Elite Groups in Ancient Rome

It has long been acknowledged that there was intense competition for honour among ancient Rome’s politicians and generals. As part of this competition these men did not allow for affronts to their honour to go unpunished for fear of contempt. But as Cicero notes in his Partitiones Oratoriae even those who could not afford the education or campaign fees to pursue the magistracies and military posts of the great and good might still become rather prickly if insulted. One of the key findings from the mid-twentieth century studies on honour in the rural Mediterranean was that honour was not class-specific; every person had a place in society that could be suddenly and unexpectedly challenged by affronts to their honour. This paper examines the competition for honour and the sentiments towards revenge it fostered among sub-elite groups in the Roman empire. By examining a wide variety of evidence including the plays of Plautus, Pompeiian graffiti, and the hundreds of ‘Prayers for Justice’ written to local deities demanding the violent and bloody punishment of a rival, this paper argues that not only do sub-elite groups demonstrate a similar competition for honour as their aristocratic peers, but for those who lost out the risks were not only higher but potentially much more deadly.

Ash is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Melbourne. His thesis, titled Violence, Honour, and the Individual – a Sociology of Roman Punishment ca. 100 BCE – 200 CE, examines the relationship between Roman attitudes towards honour and revenge, and the move to an increasingly harsh (and violent) penal system. Alongside his thesis work, he is also a founding member of the Domestic Violence and Vulnerability in the Roman World project in collaboration with the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney. Ash was also the recipient of the Thérèse and Ronald Ridley Fellowship as Visiting Scholar to the British School at Rome in 2020.

22 August

Ash Green, University of Melbourne

The Most Sacred Birds: Explaining the Vulture’s Significance in Roman Augury

Vultures (chiefly Gyps fulvus and Aegypius monachus) were pre-eminent in Roman augury, furnishing the strongest signs an augur or auspicant could receive from a wild bird. They were subject to protective taboos and called ‘sacred birds’. Legend even tells us that Rome was founded when the twin sons of Mars, Romulus and Remus, took auspices to decide who would be king. Six vultures appeared to Remus, but twelve descended upon Romulus, revealing to all that Jupiter had chosen Romulus as ruler. This paper argues that we can only explain the pre-eminence of vultures in augural law with reference to modern ornithological understandings of their behaviour. Vultures are incredibly important species within ecosystems. As obligate scavengers, they have unique flight patterns and a prodigious ability to locate corpses that could be seen as prescient. They cleanse landscapes and limit the spread of pathogens, hence many passages in literature associate vultures with purification after disease. They learned to follow armies on the march, prompting soldiers to divine the future based on their movements before battle. By appraising the place of vultures in Roman augury, we can gain a new appreciation for these extraordinary birds and their importance both within ecosystems and in human history.

Ash Green is a recent graduate of The University of Melbourne, where she majored in classics and archaeology. Her research interests include the study of birds in the classical world, and more generally what human/animal studies can tell us about societies both past and present. She is a current fellow of the State Library of Victoria and a recipient of the Centre for the History of Emotions Virtual Fellowship.

29 August

Michael Stone, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Six Falls in the Armenian Embroidered Bible

The lecture will deal with the question of how the primordial history in Genesis (Creation to the Flood) was conceptualized in Mediaeval Armenia. This is a chapter in the history of the function and interpretation of parabiblical stories, which take their root in Late Antiquity and whose influence was significant in the Middle Ages.

Michael Stone was born in England in 1938. His family moved to Australia in 1941, where he received his schooling, up to the completion of his BA (Hons.) degree in 1960. He lives in Jerusalem with his family. He has published poems in numerous literary journals as well as translations of medieval Armenian poetry. His poetry has also been anthologized in a number of collections. A book of his, Selected Poems, was published by Cyclamens and Swords Press in 2010. A poetic translation of 'Adamgirk', a medieval Armenian epic about Adam and Eve in 6,000 lines, appeared with Oxford University Press in 2007.

Stone's academic activities have been devoted to two different disciplines, Jewish literature and thought in the period of the Second Temple, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Armenian Studies. His research and academic publications have been divided between these two fields. He holds the degrees of PhD (Harvard) and DLitt. (Melbourne). He was appointed to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1966 and became Gail Levin de Nur Professor of Religious Studies and Professor of Armenian Studies in 1980. He is now retired. He holds an Honorary DHL (Hebrew Union College), Honorary Doctor (Armenian National Academy of Sciences). He is recipient of the Landau Prize for Contribution to the Humanities (Israel).

5 September

Frederik Vervaet, The University of Melbourne

Perdita Res Publica: The Failed Reforms of M. Livius Drusus (91 BCE)

Towards the late nineties of the first century BCE, some thirty years after the violent demise of Gaius Gracchus and Fulvius Flaccus and about a decade after Marius’s decisive victories in the costly Cimbric Wars, the Roman and Italian body politic were under tremendous strain from a number of festering socioeconomic and political fissures.  With the support of some of the foremost senators of the day, the noble and gifted Marcus Livius Drusus as tribune of the plebs in 91 embarked on a comprehensive and cohesive reform program, anxious to defuse and stabilize the overall situation in Rome and Italy.  This paper seeks to probe the causes, aims and method of Drusus’ policy, as well as highlight the enormity of his fateful failure in the face of the final major hurdle.”

Frederik Vervaet received his PhD from Ghent University as a Research Fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders.  After graduation he moved to UC Berkeley where he spent the academic years 2002-2004 as Francqui Fellow of the Belgian American Educational Foundation and Lecturer in the Departments of Classics (Fall 2003) and History (Spring 2004).  This was followed by a three-year stint as Assistant Professor back at Ghent University, including a term at Oxford as Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College and Research Associate of the Classics Centre.  He joined Melbourne's School of Historical Studies in June 2007.  In the northern autumn of 2010, he spent three months at the Academia Belgica as a Visiting Fellow of the BeIgian Historical Institute in Rome.  In May 2011 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, and in October 2015 to Associate Professor.  Amongst his many outstanding achievements here, one of the most significant was the award in 2020 of an ARC DP grant for the projectAugustus and the Roman Triumph: A Study in Creeping Authoritarianism.

12 September

Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, The University of Melbourne

Exploring Indigenous Australian Ochre Pigments and Binders Using Spectroscopic Methods

Ochre and related pigments offer a fascinating insight into our deep past. This presentation will provide an overview on recent archaeological science research in the University of Melbourne Archaeological Science Laboratory, with a focus on Indigenous Australian ochre, towards understanding its composition, structure, and provenance. Complex samples from natural and human-made processes offer a diversity of complicated and fascinating examples where characterisation by multiple advanced analytical methods provides a unique insight into research questions. This recent work focuses on novel method development determining the composition and provenance of pigments, working towards the ability to identify pigments applied to material culture such as boomerangs and bark paintings and rock art. Recent studies focus on the high-resolution elemental identification of pigments on bark paintings as well as the molecular characterisation of plant resins, kinos, and gums unique to Australia. The integration of multiple analytical methods offers complementary analyses for pigment analysis, often non-destructively to the sample.

Professor Rachel Popelka-Filcoff is the Rock Art Australia Minderoo Chair in Archaeological Science in the School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Melbourne, where she leads archaeological science initiatives. Her research develops novel multidisciplinary approaches to analyse cultural materials, artifacts and landscapes. These integrated methods offer an extraordinary view into past cultures, understanding of current society, and insight into our future. Rachel’s research group explores provenience, sourcing and exchange of source geological materials and artifacts through analysis and statistical approaches, and the development of high-resolution, non-invasive characterisation of cultural heritage materials. Rachel holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Missouri (USA) as a National Science Foundation Research Fellow and completed a National Research Council postdoc at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, USA). From 2009-2020, she was at Flinders University in Adelaide, including 2010-2016 where she was an AINSE Senior Research Fellow. Rachel is on the editorial board of Journal of Archaeological Science and is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. She has had her research profiled in several scientific and general media outlets, radio and television interviews.

19 September

Ron Ridley, The University of Melbourne

Reconstructing the (Rather) Remote Past: Recovering M. Furius Camillus

Professor Emeritus Ronald Ridley taught Ancient History for many years at the University of Melbourne, and has published extensively on the history of the Ancient Mediterranean as well as its reception, not only concerning Rome and Greece, but also Ancient Egypt. A partial list of his publications may be found at

His achievements have been recognized with a number of significant awards and fellowships, including international fellowships and the highly prestigious Premio Daria Borghese award for the best book on Rome by a foreign author in May 2019 (see

His paper will feature his recent research on the Roman consular tribune and dictator M. Furius Camillus, traditionally associated with the recovery of Rome from the Gauls and the reestablishment of the Roman Republic at the beginning of the 4th century BC.

3 October

Gijs Tol and Andrew Jamieson, The University of Melbourne

1. A 5000-piece Puzzle: Untangling the Provenance and Interpretation of the terra sigillata Deposit at Podere Marzuolo (Tuscany, Italy)

This presentation focuses on the famous terra sigillata stacks from the nucleated rural centre of Podere Marzuolo in inland Tuscany. These stacks comprise c. 400 fragmented, but fully reconstructable vessels of terra sigillata, the emblematic fine ware of the early Imperial period.  Half of this deposit was excavated in the early 2010s by the Roman Peasant Project and was at the time interpreted as the result of on-site production of the ware. The recent excavation of the second part of the stacks by the Marzuolo Archaeological Project, and a subsequent study campaign during which these vessels were painstakingly reconstructed, now allows us to explore alternative interpretations for the stacks.

Gijs Tol is a senior lecturer in Roman Archaeology at the University of Melbourne. He obtained his PhD from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) in 2012, and subsequently worked as a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at the same institution. His main research interest is the study of Roman (rural) society and economy. He currently leads landscape archaeological fieldwork in the area of the former Pontine Marshes (southern Lazio, Italy) and co-directs excavations at the Early Imperial period artisanal centre of Podere Marzuolo in Tuscany. Some of his recent publications include ‘An integrated approach to the study of local production an exchange in the lower Pontine Plain’ (Journal of Roman Archaeology 29, 2016) and a co-edited volume entitled Rural communities in a globalizing economy: new perspectives on the economic integration of Roman Italy (Brill, 2017). Together with A/Prof Astrid van Oyen (Cornell University/Radboud University Nijmegen) he is currently working on a handbook on Roman Rural Archaeology, under contract with Cambridge University Press.

2. Archaeology at the Frontiers: Recent Investigations at Rabati, Southern Caucasus

This talk will discuss recent archaeological investigations at the ancient frontier fortress of Rabati, in southwest Georgia, a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the Georgian National Museum. Key discoveries at the settlement of Rabati – stratigraphy, architecture, ceramics – with reference to its regional setting in the Southern Caucasus will be presented, including highlights from the 2022 season.

Andrew is associate professor of Near Eastern archaeology and has extensive field experience in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Australia. In the mid-1990s he was involved in the UNESCO post-war salvage operations in Beirut, then for ten seasons he worked at Tell Ahmar in northern Syria. In 2015, he won the Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence. Andrew has also been involved in a range of curatorial, conservation and field projects with Heritage Victoria. He was a member of the Archaeology Advisory Committee of the Heritage Council of Victoria. In 2014, Andrew was invited to represent Australia on the SHIRĪN International Committee, a Research Initiative for the Safeguarding and Protection of Syrian Heritage. Andrew first visited Georgia in 2017, then again in 2018, and led the intensive field school and excavation season at Rabati (SW Georgia) in 2019 as director of the Georgian-Australian Investigations
in Archaeology (GAIA) project.

10 October

Amelia Brown, University of Queensland

Ancient Greek Bays of Grammata and Sailors’ Patrons from Aphrodite to Mary

The majority of ancient Greeks (like modern Australians) lived on the coast, and therefore ancient sailors’ patron saviour gods, heroes and saints loomed large in the religious practices of both Hellenic polytheism and early Christianity.  Ancient Greek sailors appealed to Aphrodite, Hera or later Isis and then Mary in their home polis, as part of a (generally) small crew on their ship at sea, or as participants in Panhellenic or ‘foreign’ cults abroad.  However, a number of otherwise uninhabited coves on the northern ends of Mediterranean islands also bear witness to prayers inscribed en route by Greek sailors.  These bays of grammata help reconstruct shipping routes among the poleis of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and the supra-polis religious community of Hellenic sailors from the Archaic era into the rise of Christian patrons in Late Antiquity.

Dr Amelia R. Brown is Senior Lecturer in Greek History and Language at the University of Queensland, Australia.  She teaches and researches in the Classics and Ancient History discipline of the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry.  Her academic interests span Archaic Greek to Byzantine History, Archaeology, Language, Literature and Art History.  She is working on a book on the seafaring cults of the ancient Greeks, after a DECRA grant from the Australian Research Council.  Her monograph Corinth in Late Antiquity: A Greek, Roman & Christian City was published by IB Tauris in 2018, and is now a Bloomsbury paperback.

She received her PhD in 2008 from the University of California at Berkeley in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology.  Her 1999 AB with High Honours was received in History, Hellenic Studies and Visual Arts from Princeton University, where she held the postdoctoral Hannah Seeger Davis Fellowship in Hellenic Studies in 2009.

She has published articles on Ancient to Byzantine Greek history and archaeology, particularly in the era of Late Antiquity, and on ancient to medieval Corinth, Thessalonike, Malta, sculpture and religious change.  She is president of the Australasian Association for Byzantine Studies and with Bronwen Neil the editor of Byzantine Culture in Translation, Byzantina Australiensia 21(Leiden: Brill, 2017), and the Byzantina Australiensia series of translations from Greek into English.

17 October

Emily Tour, The University of Melbourne

Coded in Clay: Understanding the Relationships Between the Linear A, Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear B Administrative Systems Through the Application of Phylogenetics

In this seminar, I will be discussing my current PhD research, which extends on previous work conducted as a part of my 2021 Honours thesis.

My project was originally inspired by recent claims in Aegean scholarship that the administrative devices associated with the Mycenaean Linear B script may have been inspired from the earlier Cretan Hieroglyphic administration system of the Minoans – even though the creators of Linear B apparently adopted significant portions of their script from a different Minoan writing system, Linear A, and there exists a multi-century gap between Cretan Hieroglyphics and Linear B in the archaeological record. Comparisons between the administrative devices in these three systems have been rather cursory to date, and have relied on subjective methods of analysis.

In my own research, I aim to pursue a more rigorous, data-driven approach, using methods from the biological field of phylogenetics, in an attempt to shed further light on the relationships between these three systems, and determine which system –  Linear A or Cretan Hieroglyphics – was more likely to have influenced the development of the Linear B administrative devices.

With this research still in its early stages, my presentation will focus more on the methodological questions that have arisen to date, particularly around the appropriateness of phylogenetics as a tool in archaeological study. I will also be discussing current limitations concerning the publication of administrative devices from the Bronze Age Aegean, and my intention, through this project, to create a more comprehensive, open-access data set to facilitate future research in this area.

Emily is an Honours graduate and first-year PhD student at the University of Melbourne, where she is currently continuing her prior research into connections between the different administrative systems of the Bronze Age Aegean.

24 October

Elena Heran, The University of Melbourne

Sidelining the Feminine in Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Elena is in the final year of her PhD candidature at the University of Melbourne. Her thesis examines the treatment of male and female characters in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and sets out to answer two key questions:

  1. How does the poem use mythical narratives to explore peculiarly masculine concerns and anxieties, such as fatherhood, the transition from boy to man, the conflict between desire and the Roman masculine ideal of self-control, the social problem of female desire, and the maintenance of personal reputation in the homosocial sphere?
  2. In the course of these explorations, in what ways does the poem marginalise and oversimplify the experiences of its female characters?

Her completion seminar takes as its focus one of the most pervasive of these masculine anxieties, the conflict between desire and the Roman masculine ideal of self-control. Using the narratives of Daphne and Apollo in Book 1 and Tereus and Philomela in Book 6, she will demonstrate the lengths to which the poem goes to distance the male desiring subject from his own emotional state, and thus, to some extent, absolve him of responsibility for his willingness to commit acts of sexual violence. In so doing, she will also illuminate a number of ways in which the poem’s treatment of these rape narratives pushes to the side the experience of the female victim.