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

If you wish to subscribe to this list please follow the instructions in our Contact page.
Out of Africa Inside the Museum
Monday, 28 November 2016
12:00 PM
Monique Scott, Bryn Mawr College
Penn Museum Room 345, University of Pennsylvania
This paper presents results from research at natural history museums in New York City, London and Nairobi. I show that a majority of museum visitors continue to view African origins through the lens of color-coded narratives of progress from bestial African prehistory to a civilized European present. I also demonstrate that the sources of these teleological assumptions are complicated and dynamic, a product of culturally-encoded exhibition media and the cultural preconceptions that museum visitors bring with them to exhibitions, including those derived from the racial folklore circulating outside the museum that continues to stigmatize African people as evolutionary relics. Dr. Scott argues that museums, their visitors, and the greater cultural matrix in which both are situated all work to co-produce anthropological knowledge.
Sponsored by: Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Center for Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania


Printed Matter in the Pre-Modern West (8th-13th century)
Monday, 28 November 2016
5:15 PM
Brigitte M. Bedos-Rezak, New York University
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Class of 1978 Pavilion Kislak Center, University of Pennsylvania
The printing revolution of the fifteenth century has informed interpretations of the large quantity of printed material that circulated in medieval Europe teleologically. With a focus on documentary authentication and sealing practices in Western Europe between the eighth and the thirteenth centuries, I propose to re-examine the usual conflation of printing and book by considering printing as a technology that marked many types of material supports, producing and reproducing diverse artifacts, many of which were central to medieval lives. I will argue that it was a process of manufacture, the act of imprinting, that imbued printed matter, sealed charters in particular, with their particular potency during the Middle Ages. The argument will be supported by attention to three distinct aspects of seal agency: the conception of the imprinted image as an achiropoietic object; the inherent properties of printed material and the metaphors thereby generated sublimating representation as presence; and the imprint, understood as a natural sign, which complicated the philosophical field of natural magic. Those who do not hold University of Pennsylvania ID cards should bring another form of photo identification in order to enter the library building.
Sponsored by: Workshop in the History of Material Texts, Penn


Prediction, Peripeteia and Practice. A new cognitive approach to ancient dramatic narrative.
Tuesday, 29 November 2016
4:30 PM
Peter Meineck, New York University
East Pyne Room 010, Princeton University
Sponsored by: Department of Classics at Princeton University


Late Antiquity in Early Modernity: Debating the End of the Roman World in the Centuries Before Gibbon
Tuesday, 29 November 2016
6:00 PM
Frederic Clark, ISAW Visiting Assistant Professor
ISAW ISAW Lecture Hall, New York City
In 1776, the English historian Edward Gibbon published the first volumes of his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon’s paradigm of “decline and fall” maintained that the ancient world had swiftly and dramatically crumbled into a millennium of medieval darkness, torn asunder by what Gibbon labeled “barbarism and religion.” This temporal map did much to shape the emergent discipline of Classics, formalizing distinctions that, over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, would privilege a supposedly canonical Greco-Roman antiquity over other cultures and periods of the past. Yet Gibbon, whose History extended all the way to the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453, hardly considered himself merely an ancient historian. Rather, as he claimed, his Decline and Fall would do nothing less than “connect the ancient and modern history of the world.” This lecture explores just what Gibbon meant by linking the ancient and the modern. In doing so, it examines how early modern European scholars in the centuries before Gibbon defined such categories as antiquity and modernity. When had modernity begun, and which portions of antiquity should this nascent modernity replicate or imitate? Which eras counted as truly ancient? And what purposes did a millennium-long “middle” period between ancient Rome and contemporary Europe serve? Retracing the history of these historical concepts—and their many paradoxes—promises to shed new light on our own approaches to the ancient world and its temporal boundaries.
Sponsored by: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World


From Here, from Elsewhere: The Language of Belonging in Mughal India
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
4:30 PM
Mana Kia, Columbia University
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Class of 1955 Conference Room (241), University of Pennsylvania
Please bring Penn ID or other photo ID to enter Van Pelt Library.
Sponsored by: Department of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania


Style and Status in Early Athens
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
6:00 PM
Nathan Arrington, Princeton University
IFA, 1 East 78th Street Lecture Hall, NYC
The Seminar on Greek and Roman Art and Architecture This event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required.
Sponsored by: Institute of Fine Arts at NYU


The Memory of Property: Decolonial Futures for Ethnographic Collections
Thursday, 1 December 2016
12:30 PM
Jane E. Anderson, New York University
Penn Museum Nevil Classroom, University of Pennsylvania
Museums, archives and libraries are important places of re-connection and re-animation for Indigenous peoples and communities. Ethnographic collections held within these sites tell very particular histories about the colonial experience, including how Native culture was transformed into forms of exclusive property through practices of research, collecting and documentation. In thinking about the reconnection of communities to their heritage, a dual focus is necessary. This means accounting for the conditions making the collections possible alongside the political complications that arise in the circulation of memory and meaning through these collections’ position within a network of property relations. This paper explores what decolonial futures might look like for ethnographic collections that takes seriously the ongoing power of property to influence and affect institutional relationships with the communities from which this material derives. Drawing upon long term legal work with US Native American Tribes, the paper will discuss innovative strategies that tribes have been developing to create productive ruptures with this tradition so that problems with past research practices, that turned Native culture into forms of property, are not perpetuated into the future. Brown Bag Lecture - Please Bring a Lunch
Sponsored by: Penn Cultural Heritage Center, PoGo Family Foundation


Oil, Amber, Fire, Smoke: Greek Art beyond Materials
Thursday, 1 December 2016
4:30 PM
Richard Neer, University of Chicago
McCormick Hall Room 106, Princeton University
Sponsored by: Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University


Religion and Empire in Second Century BC Rome: the temple of the lares permarini on the Campus Martius
Thursday, 1 December 2016
4:30 PM
Harriet Flower, Princeton University
Cohen Hall Room 402, University of Pennsylvania
This talk will reexamine the evidence for the temple of the lares permarini vowed by L. Aemilius Regillus in 190 BC when he defeated the generals of Antiochus III at the Battle of Myonessus. Livy’s account will be combined with archaeological and epigraphical evidence to suggest a new interpretation of the impact of this major early second-century temple. What was Regillus trying to communicate in choosing to honor lares at sea? Given the characteristic qualities of these well-known deities and their existing shrines in Rome, how should we interpret this new cult and its temple on the Campus Martius? What claims are being made about Rome’s victory over Antiochus the Great and her general presence in the Eastern Mediterranean in the generation after the victory over Hannibal?
Sponsored by: Department of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania


Weeks, Months, and Years in Greek and Roman Calendars
Thursday, 1 December 2016
6:00 PM
Daryn Lehoux, Queen’s University
ISAW Lecture Hall, NYC
This talk looks at how time was structured in Greek and Roman antiquity. How and why was the year divided into just this many units and not more or less? Where did the seven-day week come from? How was the division of the year into weeks, days, and months related to religious and political cycles and duties? Registration is required at isaw.nyu.edu/rsvp
Sponsored by: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World


Manumission and Citizenship in Ancient Rome
Thursday, 1 December 2016
6:30 PM
Matthew J. Perry, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Silver Center for Arts and Science Room 503, New York University
Sponsored by: Department of Classics, NYU


The Alphabet of Ben Sira, Humor, and Collective Memory
Thursday, 1 December 2016
7:00 PM
Jillian Stinchcomb, University of Pennsylvania
Cohen Hall Second Floor Lounge, University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins
Sponsored by: Department of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania


Reusing the Past in Roman Greece
Friday, 2 December 2016
12:00 PM
Cathy Keesling, Georgetown University
Penn Museum Classroom 2, University of Pennsylvania
Sponsored by: Graduate Group in Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, University of Pennsylvania


Textual Amulets from Egypt to Phoenicia and Greece
Friday, 2 December 2016
4:30 PM
Jacco Dieleman, UCLA
Rhys Carpenter Library Room B21, Bryn Mawr College


Presenting Japanese Illustrated Books in the Digital Era
Monday, 5 December 2016
5:15 PM
Julie Nelson Davis and Alessandro Bianchi, University of Pennsylvania and Smithsonian Institute
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Class of 1978 Pavilion Kislak Center, University of Pennsylvania
Sponsored by: Workshop in the History of Material Texts, Penn


Archaeological Research at Aphrodisias 2016
Monday, 5 December 2016
6:00 PM
Roland R.R. Smith, IFA
IFA, 1 East 78th Street Lecture Hall, NYC
This event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required.
Sponsored by: Institute of Fine Arts at NYU


Death by Narrative in Suetonius’ Lives
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
4:00 PM
Cynthia Damon, University of Pennsylvania
Anderson Hall Room 821, Temple University
Sponsored by: Department of Greek and Roman Classics, Temple University


Peasant and Slave in Late Antique North Africa, c. 100-600 CE
Thursday, 8 December 2016
4:30 PM
Noel Lenski, Yale University
Cohen Hall Room 402, University of Pennsylvania
The question of agricultural labor is fundamental to our understanding of the economy and society of the Roman world. For this reason it has been the subject of debate for centuries. Through the late twentieth century, emphasis was placed on the growth of a new class of peasants referred to in modern sources as coloni, who were bound to the land on which they worked and were legally assimilated to slaves. More recent interventions have drawn into question the reification of the colonate as a coherent and ontologically identifiable thing. Moreover, recent work has also drawn attention to the ongoing importance of slavery in Late Antiquity and its crucial role in generating agricultural surplus for the Roman elite. This presentation will take a closer look at the problem using the relatively abundant material from North Africa. It will attempt to pull the argument back to a more traditional conception of the bound colonate as a labor structure that supplanted slavery as the primary mode of production in the late Roman world. Indeed, it will demonstrate that tenant laborers likely predominated in North African agriculture throughout the Roman period.
Sponsored by: Department of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania


To Have and to Hold: Captive Bodies and Captive Power in Ancient Maya Art
Thursday, 8 December 2016
6:00 PM
Caitlin Earley, Metropolitan Museum of Art and University of Nevada
IFA, 1 East 78th Street Lecture Hall, NYC
Pre-Columbian Society of New York Lecture Series This lecture is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required.
Sponsored by: Institute of Fine Arts at NYU


Muhammad's Community and the Spread of Monotheism in Late Antique Arabia
Thursday, 8 December 2016
6:00 PM
Robert Hoyland, ISAW
ISAW Lecture Hall, NYC
From Yemen to the Persian Gulf to the eastern shores of the Red Sea, monotheism, principally in the form of Christianity and Judaism, was spreading its tentacles around the edges of the Arabian peninsula in the Late Antique period and by the time Muhammad began his preaching, around 610 AD, of Muhammad, it had begun to penetrate the land's vast interiors. It used to be thought that the Qur'an was a reaction to paganism, but now it is becoming increasingly evident that it should be understood rather as a response to the Judeo-Christian currents swirling around its birth place in west Arabia. But why did Muhammad and his followers not simply adopt one of the two established monotheist faiths, what was their objection to them and what was the nature of their new community? This talk will look at some of the new discoveries of Christian and Jewish remains in Arabia and present the latest perspectives on the origins of Islam and the Muslim community.
Sponsored by: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World


The Archaeology of Antinous and a Bust from Syria
Friday, 9 December 2016
11:00 AM
R.R.R. Smith, Oxford University
Italian Academy 5th floor Seminar Room, Columbia University
Sponsored by: Center for the Ancient Mediterranean, Columbia


Assyrian Entropy: City Sieges and Cosmic Dissolution in the Palace Relief Programs
Friday, 9 December 2016
3:30 PM
Bret Langendorfer, University of Pennsylvania
Jaffe Building Room 113, University of Pennsylvania
Sponsored by: Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania


The Death of Caesar: New Light on the Ides of March and its Aftermath
Friday, 9 December 2016
4:30 PM
Barry Strauss, Cornell University
Rhys Carpenter Library Room B21, Bryn Mawr College


Before Calakmul: Recovering the Snake Kings of the Early Classic
Saturday, 10 December 2016
1:30 PM
Simon Martin, Penn Museum
Penn Museum Room 345, University of Pennsylvania
This talk gives a summary of the latest developments in the complex history of the Snake kingdom. While we now have a good understanding of the first half of the Late Classic at Calakmul, how that dynasty intersects with earlier kings, including those at Dzibanche, has been hazy at best. Now, however, recent finds in the field are lifting a veil on some enduring problems and filling some important gaps in our knowledge.
Sponsored by: Pre-Columbian Society of the University of Pennsylvania Museum


Middle Kingdom Clappers, Dancers, Birth Magic, and the Reinvention of Ritual
Saturday, 10 December 2016
3:30 PM
Ellen Morris, Barnard College
Penn Museum Classroom 2, University of Pennsylvania
Hand-shaped clappers of Middle Kingdom date appear at first glance to be little more than puns in the form of musical instruments. Uninscribed and often unprovenienced, these artifacts reveal little on their own. As this talk will endeavor to demonstrate, however, an examination of their archaeological and iconographic contexts reveals a great deal. This talk employs hand-shaped clappers as a lens through which to explore women’s roles in the cult of Hathor, in cosmic creation, and in the rejuvination of kings. It also sheds light on birth magic, as these instruments appear to have been wielded on occasion in lieu of snakes by performers channeling one of the monstrous protectors of the sun-god. And finally, the rediscovery of clappers, presumably by late Old and Middle Kingdom priests, tells us a great deal about the relationship of Egyptians with elements of their deep past.
Sponsored by: American Research Center in Egypt, Pennsylvania Chapter


Winning Hearts & Minds: Augustan Visual Strategies
Monday, 12 December 2016
4:30 PM
Barbara Kellum, Smith College
McCormick Hall Room 106, Princeton University
Sponsored by: Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University


Books and Textual Practice in Galen’s Newly Recovered Treatise, On Avoiding Distress
Monday, 12 December 2016
5:15 PM
Ralph Rosen, University of Pennsylvania
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Class of 1978 Pavilion Kislak Center, University of Pennsylvania
Those who do not hold University of Pennsylvania ID cards should bring another form of photo identification in order to enter the library building.
Sponsored by: Workshop in the History of Material Texts, Penn


A Cumulative Han Culture: Paradigms of Tradition and History in the Study of Early China
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
6:00 PM
Yitzchak Jaffe, ISAW Visiting Assistant Professor
ISAW Lecture Hall, NYC
In the field of Ancient China studies, scholars have often turned to the more recent past and its many textual sources, to aid them in their efforts of illuminating the deeper past. What has allowed this ‘free movement through time’ is the notion that Chinese civilization is monolithic and unchanging: a cumulative culture that adds to its solid core. The issue of continuity vs. change is certainly not unique to Chinese scholarship, and ways in which scholars choose to reconcile long term regional developments, historical projections, and archaeological data in their studies vary widely. This talk calls for the continued reevaluation of the ways in which we approach the past by focusing on the tension between traditional narratives of a unified Han center and the existence of regional cultures during the Western Zhou period (1046-771). Because Confucius and his followers considered this period as the golden age of civilization, scholars have traditionally paid little attention to existing ethnic and cultural diversity and created the illusion that Chinese culture, in Han style, already existed at this early date. The traditional narrative – one that focuses on the formation of the later unified Chinese Empire and civilization – still views the Zhou as those who, through military expansion and conquest, successfully Sinicized and acculturated the peoples that would make up the Chinese world. Through the investigation of archaeological remains – ritual bronze vessels, mortuary practices and foodways – this talk will highlight the complex relationship between the Zhou and the people they encountered. The speaker’s research finds that the Zhou expansion did not result in the homogenization of the ancient cultural landscape, but instead that the Zhou influence had unequal regional results: from acceptance to rejection and reformulation to suit local traditions.
Sponsored by: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World


Late Mycenaean Transport Jars and Commodity Movement in Political Context: New Evidence from the Argolid
Friday, 16 December 2016
6:30 PM
Peter M. Day, University of Sheffield
IFA, 1 East 78th Street Lecture Hall, NYC
The New York Aegean Bronze Age Colloquium This event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required.
Sponsored by: Institute of Fine Arts at NYU