From Rome to Syria: Snapshots of Recent Fieldwork by University of Melbourne Archaeologists

A presentation by Gijs Tol, Jacob Heywood, Christopher Davey, Claudia Sagona, Giorgi Bedianashvili, Brent Davis, Madaline Harris-Schober, Heather Jackson and Andrew Jamieson, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 21 May in Arts West North Wing, Room 353 (Interactive Cinema Space).

This seminar will feature six short presentations by University of Melbourne academics and students on current archaeological fieldwork projects, including the Marzuolo Archaeological Project (Italy: excavation of a rural Roman craft production centre in Tuscany), the Sissi Archaeological Project (Crete: excavation of a Minoan settlement), the Kourion Urban Space Project (Cyprus: excavation of part of a major Classical-era city), the Georgian-Australian Investigations in Archaeology Project (Georgia: excavation of a multi-period fortified settlement) and the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project (Israel: excavation of a Philistine city).  The seminar will end with a brief combined presentation on the Australian Mission at Jebel Khalid (Syria: excavation of a Hellenistic settlement) and on the Shirīn Initiative (Syrian Heritage in Danger: an International Research Initiative and Network), which brings together international research groups that were active in Syria prior to the conflict there and focuses their expertise on heritage protection.


Culture and Ideology under the Seleucids: An Interdisciplinary Approach

29-31 March 2019

Macquarie University, Sydney

The conference seeks to bring together historians, archaeologists, epigraphists and other scholars interested in the cultural ideologies that shaped the character of Seleucid rulership from its foundation to its end. The renewed interest in Seleucid studies in the past two decades, anticipated by Andreas Mehl and his Seleukos Nikator und sein Reich (1986), has certainly restored its early obscure scholarly profile as a dynasty that spiraled into decline soon after the death of its founder (E.R. Bevan, 1902, The House of Seleucus, 1.76). More recently, the appreciation and sensitivity of the Seleucids to the cultural symbols and traditions of the regions they ruled has attracted significant scholarly attention (for example, see D. Ogden, The Legend of Seleucus, 2017; K. Erickson, “Seleucus I, Zeus and Alexander,” in Every Inch a King, 2013 and id. “Apollo-Nabû: the Babylonian Policy of Antiochus I,” in Seleucid Dissolution, 2011; N. Wright, Divine Kings and Sacred Spaces, 2012; P.A. Beaulieu, “Nabû and Apollo: the Two Faces of Seleucid Religious Policy,” in Orient und Okzident in hellenistischer Zeit, 2014; P.J. Kosmin, “Seeing Double in Seleucid Babylonia,” in Patterns of the Past, 2014).

Equally, Seleucid archaeology has made huge strides, not only in the Levant, Turkey and Central Asia, but also in Syria and Mesopotamia; as the 2018 SCS “New Directions in Seleucid Archaeology” panel showcased, “Numerous surveys and excavations that have been initiated in the last 5-10 years in Iraq and the Gulf are producing great quantities of material of Seleucid date.”

We now think it is time to enrich the scholarly debate on the Seleucids by inviting voices from all disciplines studying the Seleucid phenomenon to contribute to it. Confirmed speakers (in alphabetical order) include:

Paul-Alain Beaulieu (Toronto)
Andreas Mehl (Halle-Wittenberg)
Rachel Mairs (Reading)
Daniel Ogden (Exeter)
Stefan Pfeiffer (Halle-Wittenberg)

Our aim is to initiate an interdisciplinary network of scholars interested in the Hellenistic successors and their regimes so that this conference can be repeated every two years in universities across the world and pave new lines of communication and new research agendas across disciplines. The Seleucids were proud of their mixed cultural background and therefore, to be able to appreciate them we need to expand our lenses of studying them.

Individual abstracts or thematic panels are invited to submit their abstracts to by July 29 2018.

ASCS 40 (2019)

The Australasian Society for Classical Studies (ASCS) will hold its 40th Annual Meeting and Conference at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, Australia, ‪from 4-7 Feb 2019.  We welcome abstracts on all aspects of the classical world, its reception, and traditions.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is ‪Tuesday 31 July 2018.

The abstract coversheet, instructions for submitting abstracts, and guidelines for papers and panels can be found on the ASCS website.

The conference convenors are Drs Graeme Bourke, Bronwyn Hopwood and Clemens Koehn.  Please direct enquiries prior to ‪31st July to Bronwyn Hopwood (, or to all three convenors thereafter.

2019 will be an auspicious year. It marks the 40th Annual Conference of ASCS, the 50th Anniversary of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and 60th Anniversary of the UNE Museum of Antiquities.  We are delighted, therefore, to announce four special events as part of ASCS 40 (2019):

The 40th ASCS Annual Conference Keynote Lecture will be delivered by the 2019 ASCS Keynote Speaker, Professor Theresa Morgan (Oriel College, Oxford).

The 21st A. D. Trendall Lecture of the Australian Academy of the Humanities will be delivered jointly by Dr Lea Beness and Associate Professor Thomas Hillard (Macquarie University).

The 23rd Maurice Kelly Lecture of the University of New England Museum of Antiquities (UNEMA), will be delivered by Dr Julie Anderson, Assistant Keeper (Curator), Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan (The British Museum).

UNEMA will also unveil the UNEMA 60th Anniversary Commemorative Artefact.

A conference website, including detailed information about the conference venue, transport, accommodation and registration will be available shortly and linked from the ASCS page.

Worlds in Disarray: Globalization, Piracy, and Populism in Prehistory and the Present

Public lecture: Monday, 21 May, 7:00  (reception with food begins at 6:30 in Arts West Atrium)
Venue: Kathleen Fitzpatrick Lecture Theatre, Arts West B101, The University of Melbourne

Professor Louise Hitchcock, The University of Melbourne

This lecture examines the relationship between social and technological acceleration, class conflict, natural disaster, and systems collapse in the ancient Mediterranean and in modern western society through an examination of globalization, populism and piracy.

Louise Hitchcock is Professor of Aegean Archaeology at the University of Melbourne. She is also a former member of the council of the Classical Association of Victoria. A UCLA graduate, Professor Hitchcock has extensive archaeological experience in the east Mediterranean, including time as Parsons Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens; a senior Fulbright Fellow at the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute in Cyprus; as an USAID Fellow; a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow; the Visiting Annual Professor at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem; a visiting researcher at the Institute of Advanced Study at Hebrew University, Jerusalem and undertakes excavation work in Israel, Egypt, Syria, Crete, and California.

Although not specifically sponsored by the CAV, this public event is free. Please register your attendance.

Augustus and the Temple of the Magna Mater (or: How Can I Ignore the God Next Door?)

A paper by Roslynne Bell, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 14 May in Arts West North Wing, Room 353 (Interactive Cinema Space).

In the past, the nature of Augustus’ restoration of the temple of the Magna Mater (the metroön) on Rome’s Palatine hill in 3 CE has been cited as evidence that the princeps cared little for the goddess and her cult. Likewise, it has been argued that the so-called ‘rehabilitation’ of the Magna Mater in the literature of the day stemmed from a need to justify the fact that Augustus lived next door to the temple. In this paper I re-examine the metroön and its environs, and suggest that, far from being the neighbour from hell, the Magna Mater (and her temple) actually played a significant and hitherto largely unappreciated role in both official propaganda and the visual language of Augustan Rome.

Obsidian from Early Bronze Age Sos Höyük, Eastern Anatolia

A paper by Bengi Basak Selvi, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 7 May in Arts West North Wing, Room 353 (Interactive Cinema Space).

The aim of my research is to identify the preferences of craftsman/stone-knappers during the Early Bronze Age in Eastern Turkey from the data of Sos Höyük which was fully part of “the Kura-Araxes Culture”. This cultural phenomenon is represented by small villages, an agro-pastoralist lifestyle and the appearance of handmade pottery fired to a red and black colour. The primarily results of fieldwork season 2017 will be summarized in this presentation. The results obtained from these analyses will help us to interpret decisions of craftsmen for producing a specific tool type in case of production area, as well as preferences of different inhabitants’ contemporary in terms of subsistence economy: herding, hunting or harvesting.

Just How Spaced Out Were Roman Children? Demographic Control and Maternal Health in Antiquity

A paper by Tim Parkin, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 30 April in Arts West North Wing, Room 353 (Interactive Cinema Space).

As part of a conference later this year on maternity, I have been asked to speak on the topic of ‘birth spacing’ – i.e., the interval in time between the date of a live birth and the start of the mother’s next pregnancy – in the ancient world. The measure is an important one in demographic terms, as the length of the interval between pregnancies can have significant effects on both fertility and mortality levels, but it can also be quite revealing in social and cultural terms as well, not least in terms of the ‘control’ of women’s fecundity and health. It is also a measure that in historical terms is particularly difficult to ascertain. In this talk I would like to present some initial and wide-ranging thoughts on this topic. In the process I shall also be raising a problem I have with Cicero.