Every week the Center for Ancient Studies sends a list of events related to the ancient world in the Philadelphia area to interested members.

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The Persian Romance of Alexander the Great: From Greek Epic to Persian Myth, Poetry, Mysticism, and Art
Tuesday, 9 February 2016
4:30 PM
Michael Barry, Princeton University
McCormick Hall Room 101, Princeton University


Genre as Gateway to Ancient Prophecy
Tuesday, 9 February 2016
4:30 PM
Martti Nissinen,
Religion Department Lounge - 1879 Hall Room 140, Princeton University


Finding Women in the Archaeological Record: A Case Study from Northern Etruria
Thursday, 11 February 2016
4:30 PM
Ann Steiner, Franklin & Marshall
Cohen Hall 402, University of Pennsylvania
Evidence for the activities of women in archaeological contexts is often hypothesized when classes of artifacts assumed to be the possessions of women—jewelry – or evidence of their work – weaving tools-- appear. The unreliability of this type of knee-jerk gendering of artifacts is clear, however, when considering material in tombs where human remains are anthropologically sexed. So-called “women’s” grave goods appear in male graves and vice versa. This talk reviews some current methodologies for gendering artifacts more reliably—starting with a rigorous assessment of material from a significant sample of sexed graves, discovering how categories of evidence are gendered or not, and applying the conclusions to discover women in non-funerary, ritual contexts. The material recovered in 21 excavation seasons at Poggio Colla in N. Etruria (700-200 B.C.E.) includes extensive evidence for dedications and religious activity, including female activity in textile production, dedications, some surely by women, of luxury goods, and a likely cult focus on a female divinity. In addition, commensality is represented by several contexts that include vessels for drinking and eating in both plain locally made ware, and a smaller percentage of imported black gloss drinking cups. Material from a substantial cemetery in the same region includes more than 150 tombs, for half of which anthropologists have sexed the human remains. Grave groups reveal that different black gloss drinking vessel shapes are strongly correlated to women and men. The fact that these same vessels exist in the repertory of commensal shapes excavated at Poggio Colla provides intriguing hints for yet another facet of women’s participation in ritual activity at the sanctuary. This kind of evidence helps to develop a more nuanced picture of the roles of women in elite Etruscan society, one that complement sand corrects the extreme interpretations of their status and behavior as registered by Greek and Roman writers.


Royal Inscriptions in the Hebrew Bible and Mesopotamia: A Problem and Its Significance
Thursday, 11 February 2016
5:00 PM
Peter Machinist, Harvard University
Fisher-Bennett 244, University of Pennsylvania


A View from Below: What a Bronze Age Village Can Tell Us About the Shang Dynasty
Thursday, 11 February 2016
6:00 PM
Roderick Campbell, ISAW
ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University


Recent Trends in the Historical Study of Ancient Japanese Architecture
Thursday, 11 February 2016
6:00 PM
Shigeatsu Shimizu, Kyoto Institute of Technology
Schermerhorn Hall 612, Columbia University


The Seleucid Context: Some Thoughts about the Past and the Future
Thursday, 11 February 2016
7:00 PM
Paul Kosmin, Harvard University
Cohen Hall Second Floor Lounge, University of Pennsylvania
Prof. Paul J. Kosmin is Assistant Professor of Classics at Harvard University. His first book, The Land of the Elephant Kings: Space, Territory, and Ideology in the Seleucid Empire (Harvard University Press, 2015), examines the relationship between the kings of the Seleucid dynasty and the landscape, from Bactria to Thrace, over which they ruled. More generally, Paul is interested in Hellenistic kingship and imperialism, ancient ethnography, interactions between the Greek and Near Eastern worlds, and Greek epigraphy. Current projects include a study of the role of magical rituals in city-state politics and an investigation of newly emerging temporalities in the Hellenistic world.


Cultural Heritage Crisis of Syria and Iraq
Friday, 12 February 2016
9:00 AM
McCormick Hall 106, Princeton University


2015 Excavations at Ur
Friday, 12 February 2016
12:00 PM
Elizabeth Stone and Paul Zimansky,
Penn Museum 345, University of Pennsylvania


When could the Greeks say ‘Become a Philosopher!’?
Friday, 12 February 2016
4:30 PM
Christopher Moore, Pennsylvania State University
Rhys Carpenter Library B21, Bryn Mawr College


Long Count in Function of the Haab' and its Venus-Moon Relation: Application in Chichén Itzá
Saturday, 13 February 2016
1:30 PM
Geradine Ann Patrick Encina,
Penn Museum 345, University of Pennsylvania


Social Living in the Old Kingdom
Saturday, 13 February 2016
3:30 PM
Leslie Warden, Roanoke College
Penn Museum Classroom 2, University of Pennsylvania
All too often, we reduce the ancient Egyptians to pharaohs, gods, and monuments. Such a reduction is both easy (as most of the material made in stone relates to one of those three categories) and tempting (as human beings are fascinated by the upper classes of society). This is particularly true for the Old Kingdom (ca. 2600-2200 BC), when pyramids and pyramid sites tend to dominate the narrative. But are pharaohs and pyramids good illustrators of Egyptian society? In this talk, we will strive to leave pharaohs and state gods in the shadows and focus instead on average Egyptians and the towns they lived in. We will investigate home and village life, local organization, and state-province interaction. Ultimately, we will ask: how does the ancient Egypt we know and love relate to the lived experience of your average ancient Egyptian? Presented by ARCE-PA. Admission: $10; $7, Penn Museum members and PennCard holders; $5, students with ID; free for ARCE-PA members and children under 12.


Shaping Religious Space in Roman and Late Antique Sepphoris
Tuesday, 16 February 2016
6:00 PM
Zeev Weiss, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University
In the heart of the Lower Galilee, midway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee, around five kilometers west of Nazareth, lie the remains of Sepphoris, capital of the Galilee during long periods of antiquity. Established as a Roman polis in the early second century, Sepphoris boasted an impressive grid of streets, with the colonnaded cardo and decumanus running through its center as well as various public and private buildings located throughout the city. This lecture will focus on the cultic buildings known to date in Sepphoris -- a Roman temple, two churches, and a synagogue -- and will discuss their implications for the study of the architectural development, social structure, religious behavior, and cultural relationships between the Jews and other segments of society in this late antique city.


Buried Among the Living: Intramural Burial in Archaic Gabii
Thursday, 18 February 2016
4:30 PM
Marilyn Evans, Swarthmore College
Cohen Hall 402, University of Pennsylvania


Roman Teamsters: Muliones and the (Dis)organization of Roman Transport
Thursday, 18 February 2016
4:30 PM
John Bodel,
RAB 003 DC, Rutgers


The Agency of Models: Holy Sepulchres, Hagia Sophias, Jerusalems
Thursday, 18 February 2016
5:00 PM
Annabel Wharton, Duke University
McCormick Hall 101, Princeton University


Middle Kingdom Clappers, Dancers, Birth Magic, and the Reinvention of Ritual
Thursday, 18 February 2016
6:00 PM
Ellen F. Morris, Barnard College
ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University
This talk focuses upon a particularly enigmatic artifact category. Hand-shaped clappers fashioned out of hippo tusk are occasionally found in tombs of Middle Kingdom date. While later equivalents are often decorated with the head of the goddess Hathor on their sleeve or with an inscription naming their owner, Middle Kingdom clappers are unadorned. This talk argues that the archaeological and iconological contexts of these artifacts reveal a great deal. On the basis of studies of archival material from Asasif and Lisht at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and on excavation records from other other sites, three points emerge. First, the findspots of clappers and the artifacts with which they were discovered suggest their employment in Hathoric rituals oriented toward the strengthening of the sun-god and the reviving of the souls posthumously identified with this god. Second, clappers are also strongly associated with birth magic and especially with the entities that protected the sun-god and all those about to be born or reborn. Finally, it is argued that, like many Middle Kingdom grave goods, clappers had been ‘rediscovered’ and religiously re-envisioned by sacral authorities who encountered Protodynastic and Early Dynastic votive material during temple renovations and perhaps also during work at the pilgrimage site of Umm el-Qa’ab.


Stoics and Skeptics on Cataleptic Impressions
Friday, 19 February 2016
11:00 AM
Tobias Reinhardt, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford
Schermerhorn Hall 934, Columbia University
The Stoics are famous for their view that there are so-called cataleptic impressions, namely, impressions “from what is” and “imprinted and sealed” in accordance with what is. The skeptics are equally famous for arguing against this. As the skeptics aim to show, there could always be an impression that is indistinguishable from the presumed cataleptic impression, and still false. In a well-known anecdote, a Stoic is presented with an apple. In accepting the apple, the skeptics say he accepted that this—what he saw in front of him—is an apple. And yet it was a wax apple! Along these lines, the debate revolves around the question of whether two impressions can be such that no one, not even a wise person, would be able to keep them apart, even though one of them presents the world as it is while the other is false. The precise moves in this debate are highly contested. Reinhardt offers a new reconstruction, which is part of his large-scale project on Cicero’s Academica.


Sites in Crisis: Documenting and protecting cultural heritage in East Crete, Greece
Friday, 19 February 2016
12:00 PM
Konstantinos Chalikias, University of Athens
Penn Museum Classroom 2, university of Pennsylvania
Konstantinos Chalikias, University of Athens, speaks about the efforts to record and monitor archaeological sites in East Crete with the use of satellite imagery and drones to capture a “snapshot” of various cultural landscapes in East Crete over the next couple of years. He speaks to the importance of allowing researchers to extract useful data to help in vulnerability assessment of endangered cultural sites in the area, and to propose solutions for their future protection.


The monument and the tomb: About the forms and the time of memory in the necropolis of Porta Nocera at Pompeii (Ist cent. AD)
Friday, 19 February 2016
4:30 PM
William Van Andringa, Université de Lille 3
Rhys Carpenter Library B21, bryn Mawr College


Archaeology, Museums, and War
Wednesday, 24 February 2016
12:30 PM
C. Brian Rose, University of Pennsylvania
Thomas Library 224, Bryn Mawr College


Creatures of Combat in Lucretius
Wednesday, 24 February 2016
4:00 PM
Pamela Zinn, Temple University
Anderson Hall Women's Studies Lounge, Rm 821, Temple University


What’s Wrong with Samons’ Pericles?
Thursday, 25 February 2016
4:30 PM
Loren Samons, Boston University
Cohen Hall 402, University of Pennsylvania
Is it possible to write a “biography” of a fifth-century Athenian? What justifies (or dooms) such an attempt? In the case of Pericles, problems of Thucydides’ composition and the historian's method of presenting speeches complicate the situation dramatically, rendering any attempted biography open to criticism on numerous levels. Professor L. J. Samons will illustrate the weaknesses in his newly published Pericles and the Conquest of History while attempting to justify the attempt to write a “political biography” of this seminal figure in the history of democracy and imperialism.


Ancient Technologies: Their Matter, Materiality, and Materializations
Friday and Saturday, 26-27 February 2016
Denise Kimber Buell (Keynote), Williams College
Penn Museum & Van Pelt Library ,
The term technology often invokes images of the information-based e-ephemera of Silicon Valley, technologies frequently described as immaterial or as transcending their own materiality. Nonetheless, these technologies are very much material. In this conference, we seek to explore ancient technologies whose materiality is similarly overlooked. Acutely attuned to discussions of materiality occurring in Science, Technology, and Society Studies including New Materialisms, Actor-Network Theory, and Posthuman theories, among others, we aim to rethink the role and nature of technology in ancient societies. Beyond material innovations in transportation, writing, or warfare, we can see material technologies at work in the formation and construction of the self, ethnicity, the Gods, cultural memory, and the body, to name only a few examples. We hope to question entrenched assumptions surrounding the disembodied nature of power, intention, and agency by identifying, embracing, and reinterpreting their materiality and their dependency upon the technological. This is a call to explore the surprising presences and effects of past material technologies, to think broadly about the technological aspects of the material, and to consider the material aspects of overlooked technologies.


Of Love and Loyalty: Ancient Greece and Today
Friday, 26 February 2016
4:30 PM
David Konstan, Brown University
Rhys Carpenter Library B21, Bryn Mawr College


Territorial Barriers in Central Asia: Investigating the "Long Wall" of Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
Tuesday, 1 March 2016
6:00 PM
Sören Stark, ISAW
ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University


Agamemnon’s Masons: Understanding Technological Links across the Argolid, Boeotia, and the Land of Hatti
Thursday, 3 March 2016
4:30 PM
Nick Blackwell, NC State University
Cohen Hall 402, University of Pennsylvania
During the 13th century BC, masons at Mycenae utilized several different cutting techniques to fashion architectural blocks and sculpture. This talk highlights the importance of saw and drill use on key sections of that citadel and its monuments, namely: the famous Lion Gate relief, the post-and-lintel gateways, the Treasury of Atreus, and the Treasury of Klytemnestra. Masonry from nearby Tiryns reveals cutting methods similar to those at Mycenae, indicating a shared technology between the two Mycenaean sites, not surprising given their proximity. It is more challenging to account for stone-cutting similarities between the Argolid and Boeotia as well as between the Argolid and central Anatolia. This talk provides evidence for and explains a relationship between craftsmen from the Argolid and the construction of the Treasury of Minyas at Orchomenos in central Greece. Likewise, the similar use of tools and cutting methods between Mycenae and the Hittites is assessed and a new theory is proposed explaining the technological links between the two distant regions.


Migrating Tales: The Talmud's Narratives and their Historical Context
Thursday, 3 March 2016
5:30 PM
Richard Kalman,
Annenberg School for Communication 111, University of Pennsylvania


Fourth Ancient Judaism Regional Seminar
Sunday-Monday, 6-7 March 2016
Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies , University of Pennsylvania
The Ancient Judaism Regional Seminar is an annual event, held each spring, which brings together faculty and graduate students in Jewish Studies from Princeton University, Yale University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, NYU, and other area universities. The seminar was founded in 2013 with the aim of building academic networks among faculty and students along the Northeast Corridor, sharing cutting-edge research in ongoing conversations between junior and senior scholars of Ancient Judaism, and providing opportunities for doctoral students to hone their dissertation ideas and presentation skills. The aspiration for the seminar, as articulated by Prof. Peter Schäfer, is to serve as “an informal and friendly environment for graduate students to share their dissertation research with others, to learn from each other, to receive constructive feedback from a range of students and scholars in the field, and most importantly for all of us to build bridges and help students beyond our universities in their work.” The location of the event rotates between institutions, and in 2016, it is scheduled to be hosted by Penn. The event spans two days, and it features panels of presentations on dissertation research by ABD PhD students with faculty respondents and ample time for discussion and debate among the attendees, “lightning-round” sessions by pre-ABD PhD students, and meals and receptions oriented toward academic networking. The organizing committee at Penn plans to add a professionalization session in 2016, drawing on the resources of Penn’s Katz Center of Advanced Judaic Studies, which will host the event as well.


Disaster, Decline and Fall--Or Not? A Late Antique Earthquake and its Cultural Reverberations
Tuesday, 8 March 2016
4:00 PM
Cam Grey, University of Pennsylvania
Anderson Hall Women's Studies Lounge, Rm 821, Temple University


(Re-)Defining an Ancient Near Eastern Contact Zone: Northwest Arabia in the 2nd Millennium BC
Tuesday, 8 March 2016
6:00 PM
Arnulf Hausleiter, Archaeological Institute (Berlin)
ISAW Lecture Hall, New York University