Framing Archaeology: Victorian Perspectives on Archaeological Interpretation

A paper by David Frankel, La Trobe University, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 23 July in Arts West North Wing, Room 353 (Interactive Cinema Space).

In this presentation I will outline the diversity of Victoria and its Aboriginal heritage and use it to explore some underlying issues in archaeological practice. For we are all continually challenged to identify the most appropriate way to organise and explain the available evidence. Both the material and the past it illuminates can be structured in many ways. The frames of reference we choose may be based on different criteria and may operate at different scales of space, time and approach, all inextricably linked to the images of the past and forms of explanation we prefer. These may emphasise particular economic, social or technological systems, create narratives or promote concepts of cumulative change. Recognising the implications of practical and analytical procedures becomes a first step in clarifying what we want to, or indeed can, know about the past and, beyond that, encourage us to think about why we want to know it.

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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.

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.

What Does Religious Persecution Look Like? Reassessing the Confiscation of Temple Property in Roman Egypt

A paper by Andrew Connor, Monash University, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 23 April in Arts West North Wing, Room 353 (Interactive Cinema Space).

The wholesale confiscation of land, businesses and other property belonging to the temples of Egypt by Roman officials, starting under Augustus, generally plays a central role in our constructions of the religious and economic landscapes of Roman Egypt. But what is the evidence for such a massive program of confiscation? In this talk, I will survey the surviving evidence—papyri, inscriptions and literary—adduced in support of confiscations, as well as placing these texts in their wider historic, generic and rhetorical contexts. Finally, I will discuss some well-attested instances of religious persecution in the pre-modern world and suggest some ways in which these programs of repression or persecution (as the Roman attacks on Egyptian religious property are supposed to be) appear in the documentary, literary or archaeological records.

Foreigners and Propaganda: War and Peace in the Imperial Images of Augustus and Qin Shi Huangdi

A paper by Danqing Zhao, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 9 April in Arts West North Wing, Room 353 (Interactive Cinema Space).

This presentation will comparatively examine how the first emperors of Rome and China, Augustus and Qin Shi Huangdi, manipulated the portrayals of foreigners and ‘barbarians’ to generate their imperial image. By analysing the Res Gestae of Augustus and the stele inscriptions of Qin Shi Huangdi, I will argue that the two emperors’ presentation of foreigners in their propaganda was not simply limited to aggrandising their military persona. Even in the context of war and peace, both the Princeps and the First Emperor utilised foreigners as a way to elevate their moral character and display their superhuman connection to the divine.