Separating the Sheep from the Goats: Animals in Human Communities from the Roman Empire to the Early Middle Ages

A paper by Tamara Lewit, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 2 October in Theatre C, Old Arts.

Animals have received little attention in the mainstream historiography of the Roman Empire and the Early Middle Ages. Yet animals were fundamental to these (as to other) human societies, forming an essential part of the complex human interactions with the environment through farming, exploitation of uncultivated areas, industries and trade, allocation of resources, symbolism and material culture. This paper will focus on some recent findings of archaeozoology which can inform our understanding of the vital roles which animals played in the Roman Empire and the Early Middle Ages. Particular attention will be paid to the processes of change and transition between these two periods.


The Fate of the Column of Antoninus Pius

A paper by Ron Ridley, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 18 September in Theatre C, Old Arts.

This is a story of total incompetence which resulted in a tragedy. The column of this famous emperor was fully uncovered in 1703 – but it was then destroyed, so that only the pedestal remains, in the Vatican Museum, where it is hard to see! This is the best documented ‘excavation’ in centuries, but the standard references cannot get a single thing right.

Alesia: The Climax of Julius Caesar’s Campaigns in Gaul

A paper by Peter Mountford, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 28 August in Theatre C, Old Arts.

A pilgrimage to the site of Alesia in June 2016 gave me a much better understanding of the topography of the site of the famous siege and battle fought in 52 BC which were to bring an end to Gallic resistance.  The visit brought even greater admiration for Caesar’s achievements.  The excellent museum, opened in 2012, also helped my understanding of the phases of the siege and battle.  This lecture, illustrated with pictures of the museum, of Alesia itself and the surrounding area, accounts for Caesar’s success and the Gallic failure.

Black Out: Classicising First Nation Peoples in Australia and New Zealand

A paper by Marguerite Johnson, University of Newcastle, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 21 August in Theatre C, Old Arts.

The colonization of both New Zealand and Australia in the 1800s was recorded in numerous publications based on the original journals of explorers, naval captains and crew members. Written details of the voyages, the explorations of the lands of New Zealand and Australia, and the processes of colonization were accompanied by illustrations of flora, fauna and maps, as well as descriptions of Aboriginal and Maori peoples recorded in the fieldnotes of scientists and natural history artists who were also members of the crew. These volumes were immensely popular and catered to the British and European fascination with so-called recently ‘discovered’ lands and peoples.

This presentation examines the illustrations in one major publication and two artists’ field illustrations with a methodological eye to Classical Reception Studies; namely, the representations of First Nations people with recourse to ancient Mediterranean sculpture. This use of Classicism is evident in two engravings from the monograph of John Hunter (1737-1821) published in 1793; the watercolour, ‘A Native Wounded while asleep’ (c. 1788-1797) by the ‘Port Jackson Painter’, which occupies the main discussion; and a pen and wash, ‘New Zealand War Canoe bidding defiance to the Ship’ (1770) by Sydney Parkinson (c. 1745-1771).

This trend for Classicism that marked much of the literature, philosophy and art of the Enlightenment produced what I term the ‘Black Out’ of indigeneity and cultural authenticity in the formal accounts of colonization. Elsewhere(Johnson 2014), I have discussed the employment of Neo-Classicism in colonial accounts of Australian Aboriginals, including the motivations behind its function as a narrative device, as well responses to it, and the implications for both contemporary and post-colonial audiences. In this presentation, I wish to emphasize an absence of indigeneity and cultural authenticity – a ‘black out’ – which resulted from colonial mimesis in the form of Classicism that rendered Maori and Aboriginal bodies as antiquities in the established Mediterranean style. This Classicizing of indigenous bodies show First Nations people of the Pacific as imagined, anonymous bodies – hybrids – related to but ultimately different from the body as a site of racial difference, and ultimately part of the confused and competing nascent theories of race during the Eighteenth Century.

Reference: Johnson, M. (2014), ‘Indigeneity and Classical Reception in The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay’, Classical Receptions Journal 6 (3): 402–25.

The Protection of Cultural Heritage and Archaeological Sites in Conflict Zones: The Case for Iraq

A paper by Andrea Argiridis, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 14 August in Theatre C, Old Arts.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has operated in many theatres of operation, especially in the Middle East. The historical and archaeological wealth of tribal nations, such as Iraq, cannot be disputed and it is extremely distressing to have witnessed the horrible impacts of war upon these ancient lands, with not only the loss of human life, but also the destruction of cultural and archaeological heritage. This presentation will explore a number of key issues pertaining to the protection of cultural heritage and archaeological sites in conflict zones and how best the ADF can protect such heritage during armed conflict. This is a topic that is particularly relevant for current and future operational practices for deployed forces. This presentation will be presented not just from the perspective of an archaeology major completing a PhD, but it is also from a military officer who has had three tours of duty to the Middle East.

The Survey of the Mycenaean Sites of Vapheio-Palaiopyrgi

A paper by Louise Hitchcock, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 7 August in Theatre C, Old Arts.

In 2016-2017, the Vapheio-Palaiopyrgi Survey Project, under the auspices of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens and in collaboration with the Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Lakonia, the University of Melbourne, Brevard College and the University of the Peloponnese, initiated a scientific survey of the sites of Vapheio-Palaiopyrgi.  These sites include the Vapheio Tholos, one of the earliest and richest tholos tombs and Palaiopyrgi, one of the largest unexcavated Mycenaean sites in the Peloponnese and a recently discovered conglomerate quarry, which is situated between them.  Moreover, Palaiopyrgi belongs to a network of intervisible sites in the Eurotas River Valley including the “Menalaion,” Amyklai, Ayios Vassileios and Vouno Panayias.  Over the course of two seasons, the team engaged in a broad complement of both traditional and modern analytical techniques for the study of the landscape and its surface finds and features.  The initial results are promising with implications for the study of regional network in the Eurotas River Valley in the prehistoric and later eras.  This paper presents the preliminary results of our research in its spatial and chronological contexts, prior to our study season to be held in 2018.  Of particular significance are the diagnostic sherds and finds from the EH through LH III and the Byzantine periods and the ninety-six surface features that were recorded.