From Emblem to Epic: Mycenaean Art and Mycenaean Society

W.H. Allen Memorial Lecture, Wednesday, 13 September, 2017; reception 4:30, lecture 5:15
Venue: Kaye Scott Room, Ormond College, 49 College Crescent, Parkville

Professor Emeritus James C. Wright, AAIA Visiting Professor, Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens

This is a lecture for general audiences that examines how an artistic style emerged that exemplified the Mycenaean civilization in Greece during the Late Bronze Age.  I explain how individuals use luxuries and other high status items to promote their social and political position so as to consolidate of power over their communities and in relation to competing leaders elsewhere within the Greece.  I will explain how they created both a local art and blended with the art of the palaces of Crete to institute a visual program within the palaces they constructed at their capitals on the mainland of Greece.  The lecture closes with a consideration of the impact of this visual program after the fall of the palaces and the transition to the Iron Age that ultimately led to the epics of Homer and the rise of the Greek city states.

James C. Wright is the Director, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece, as well as holding the William R. Kenan Jr. Chair at the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College Pennsylvania U.S.A.  He holds his degrees from Bryn Mawr (Ph.D. and M.A.) and Haverford College (B.A.).  His research interests are the pre- and proto-historic Aegean, Greek architecture and urbanism, land use and settlement, archaeological method and theory and cultural geography.  Professor Wright has conducted archaeological research in Greece since 1973, at the American School’s excavations at Ancient Corinth, the Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea, Kommos on Crete and since 1981 has been involved in several projects in the Nemea region.  He is currently the Director of the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project.

The annual W.H. Allen Memorial Lecture is sponsored by the Classical Association of Victoria and Ormond College, in honour of Barney Allen, the first Secretary of the Classical Association of Victoria (1912 onwards) and Vice-Master of Ormond College from 1915-1943.  The event will begin with the awarding of the annual Alexander Leeper Prize for the highest-achieving undergraduate Classics honours student in the state of Victoria.  Alexander Leeper in 1876 became the first Warden of Trinity College at the University of Melbourne and in 1912 became the first President of the Classical Association of Victoria.

For catering purposes, PLEASE RSVP to koc@unimelb.edu.au by 6 September if you wish to attend the pre-lecture drinks.

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Becoming Mycenaean: The Emergence of Mycenaean Civilization in Greece

Public lecture: Thursday, 14 September, 2017, 6:30
Venue: Forum Theatre, Level 1, North Wing, Arts West Building, The University of Melbourne

Professor Emeritus James C. Wright, AAIA Visiting Professor, Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens

This lecture is a survey of evidence from the Middle Bronze Age through the early phases of the Late Bronze (c. 1700-1330 BCE) and explains how Mycenaean civilization developed in relation to its predecessors.  It is intended for general audiences but will introduce them to latest thinking about the rise of Mycenaean civilization during the Late Bronze Age in Greece.  It will explore how mainlanders interacted with people in the Aegean Islands and with the in habitants of the palaces of Crete, especially Knossos. Special emphasis is placed in the rise of small warrior societies at Mycenae and elsewhere on the mainland of Greece.  The lecture will end with a consideration of Mycenaean rule at Knossos, the invention of the Mycenaean script, Linear B, and the founding of palaces on the mainland of Greece.

James C. Wright is the Director, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece as well as holding the William R. Kenan Jr. Chair at the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College Pennsylvania U.S.A. He holds his degrees from Bryn Mawr (Ph.D. and M.A.) and Haverford College (B.A.). His research interests are the pre- and proto-historic Aegean, Greek architecture and urbanism, land use and settlement, archaeological method and theory, and cultural geography; Professor Wright has conducted archaeological research in Greece since 1973, at the American School’s excavations at Ancient Corinth, the Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea, Kommos on Crete, and since 1981 has been involved in several projects in the Nemea region. He is currently the Director of the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project.

This public lecture by the Annual AAIA Visiting Professor is co-sponsored by La Trobe University, the Classical Association of Victoria and the University of Melbourne.

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Under Your Spell: Love Magic in the Mediterranean

Public lecture: Tuesday 22 August 2017, 7:00
Venue: Forum Theatre, Level 1, North Wing), Arts West Building, The University of Melbourne

Marguerite Johnson, Associate Professor of Ancient History and Classical Languages, University of Newcastle

It was a well-kept secret among historians during the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the practise of magic was widespread in the ancient Mediterranean. Historians wanted to keep the activity secret because it did not support the idealized view of the Greeks and Romans. Today, however, magic is a legitimate area of scholarly enquiry, providing insights into ancient belief systems as well as cultural and social practices. Among the types of magic practised in antiquity were love spells. Indeed, making spells of attraction kept professional magic practitioners in business, as they charged fees for writing love charms, making love ‘dolls,’ and even directing spells against rivals. This illustrated lecture explores the practice of love magic in ancient Greece and Rome, including the rich variety of spells. It also discusses the types of people who performed such magic, including professional magicians and courtesans (experts in erotic magic and charms).

Marguerite Johnson is Associate Professor of Ancient History and Classical Languages in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle. She is the author of Sappho (2007) and Boudicca (2012), both in Duckworth’s “Ancients in Action” series), co-editor of Sexuality in Greek and Roman society and literature: a sourcebook (2005), and translator of Ovid’s poetry on cosmetics (2016).

This lecture is sponsored by the Classical Association of Victoria. It is also part of the “LOVE” public lecture series by the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS) at the University of Melbourne.

To register your attendance at this public lecture, please visit http://arts.unimelb.edu.au/shaps/news/details?event=8851

Seals and Identity in Byzantium

Public lecture: Tuesday, 13 June, 2017, 6:30
Venue: Forum Theatre, Arts West, The University of Melbourne

Claudia Sode, Professor of Byzantine Studies, University of Cologne

Given the inadequacy of other means of securing documents, individuals at almost all levels of Byzantine society used personal seals that they would change frequently to mark changes in their career or status.  Some 80,000 of these survive for which the inscriptions indicate the owner’s name and title and the office held.  But they also show an image which, far more than mere decoration, acts as a medium to convey identity by reference to specific iconographic subjects.  By discussing how homonymity, gender, family devotions, offices, or urban affiliation have stimulated an individual’s choice of iconography, it is the aim of this paper to demonstrate what an essential body of material seals are for any investigation devoted to the question of identity in Byzantium.

Claudia Sode is Professor of Byzantine Studies at the University of Cologne which she is currently combining with a 3-year appointment at Changchun University in China to promote and develop Byzantine Studies in China.  She gained both her doctorate and her Habilitation at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena.  She has published extensively on Byzantine studies with particular emphasis on Byzantine seals and their value for interpreting aspects of Byzantine social history with 3 books, some 8 book-length editions, 13 articles and 11 chapters in books.

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Interpreting a Sculptured Cave on the Banks of the Euphrates in Syria

Public lecture, Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 6:30
Venue: Theatre D, Old Arts Building, The University of Melbourne

Heather Jackson, Honorary Fellow, Classics & Archaeology, University of Melbourne

It is important, in these days of destruction of the ancient heritage of Syria, to bring this site, excavated by the University of Melbourne and Australian National University in 1996-1998, into the limelight. This spectacular sanctuary, now irrevocably damaged, was carved out of the local limestone cliff above the Euphrates and could be accessed only from the river by steep steps. It housed two zones of near-lifesize figures around the walls, nearly all women apparently carrying offerings. Larger figures include a seated mother with child; a full-sized stone bull in a niche waiting to be led to the blood altar in the middle of the floor; two large animals, either lions or horses, framing a lost centrepiece; and on the west wall, three possible tombs. The floor was originally covered in mosaic tesserae. The emphasis on women suggests a predominantly female cult or occasion, while the arrangement of the figures and the presence of the burials may suggest that this is the tomb of either a local queen or a high-born priestess. Certain features date it to the 2nd century AD, a period when the Romans were much in evidence on the Euphrates. However, the frontal stance of the figures and their style of dress are reminiscent of the sculptures of Palmyra, further south, as well as the ‘Parthian’ figures at Hatra. This is a truly multi-cultural monument, providing a glimpse of the knowledge we have lost about the resilience and vigour of the indigenous Syrian population, and their local culture.

Dr Heather Jackson is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her research and publications have been mainly concerned with the Hellenistic site of Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates in Syria. She has also engaged with the University of Melbourne’s collection of Greek vases, and was the curator of the exhibition of these in 2016. She has assisted with the curatorship of the current exhibition in the Potter: Ancient Syria, Modern Conflict.

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Drinks and Drugs: Entanglements of Aegean Pottery in the Late Bronze Age Canaan

Public lecture, Wednesday, 29 March, 6:00
Venue: Kathleen Fitzpatrick Lecture Theatre – B101, Arts West Building, The University of Melbourne

Professor Philipp Stockhammer, Ludwig-Maximilians- University Munich

We are currently witnessing a continuing epistemological gap between the vivid discussion on the phenomenon of cultural encounter and transculturality in Aegean and Near Eastern Archaeology and the reality of methodological approaches in archaeological interpretation.  In order to develop a methodological approach for the analysis of transcultural phenomena in archaeology, Stockhammer will operationalize the complex anthropological discourse and transform it into a methodological approach for archaeological sources.  In this lecture, he will exemplify the potential of his approach on the basis of a case study, namely the appropriation and use of Aegean-type pottery at the Southern Levant in the 13th and 12th centuries BCE and the transformation of functions and meanings that emerged during the process of appropriation.  Intercultural interaction and goods exchange in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean have been the focus of archaeological research for years.  So far, however, form, function and meaning of an object have always been understood as an inseparable entity.  Stockhammer argues that we have to refocus archaeology’s approach towards items coming from the outside.  Therefore, the significance of the foreign object does not derive solely from the transfer as such, but rather from the ways in which it is used and contextualized in the receiving culture.  Stockhammer will focus on the pottery’s integration into discourses and practices and on the creation of new hybrid frameworks of meaning that do not conform with what had previously existed in the receiving society or in the areas of origin of the objects in question.

Philipp Stockhammer is Professor for Prehistoric Archaeology (focus: Eastern Mediterraenean) at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and Co-director of the Max-Planck-Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean at Jena.

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Free event, please register at http://alumni.online.unimelb.edu.au/PhilippStockhammer