Urban Roman Cyprus: New Evidence from 2nd Century AD Nea Paphos

Public Lecture – The 2018 Petrie Oration

Thursday 25 October 2018,  5:15
Australian Institute of Archaeology, Terrace Way, Macleod (La Trobe University, Building TER 11, Melways 873-4)

Dr Craig Barker, The University of Sydney

The Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project has been excavating the theatre of Nea Paphos since 1995. Paphos was the capital city of Roman Cyprus and is now a World Heritage site. Recent excavations have concentrated on the area surrounding the theatrical precinct and have uncovered a paved and colonnaded 8-metre-wide road and a nymphaeum. This talk will explore the implications that these new discoveries have on our understanding of the ancient city. It will discuss what is now known about the relationship of the theatre with other key Roman structures in the city, including the agora, the harbour, the domestic quarters and the north-east city gate and the significant pilgrim’s route to the sanctuary of Aphrodite at nearby Palaepaphos.

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Collapse and Recovery: The Later Roman Navies of the Northern Frontier (3rd-5th Centuries CE) (MA completion seminar)

A paper by Alexander Elliott, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 15 October in room 224, South Theatre, Old Arts.

“After two centuries of easy living, carrying out peacetime maneuvers and ferrying troops, Rome’s great navy had, like so much else in the Empire, gone soft.”  Although written almost 60 years ago, Casson’s (1959) narrative of the Roman navy being consumed by its own decadence and decay still dominates scholarship.  Remarkably, few scholars have studied ancient Roman naval history, and the few who have focus largely on the early period before dismissing the topic after the 2nd century.  This MA thesis not only argues for its continued existence but aims to understand the transition from an Augustan naval system to that of the late empire over the course of the tumultuous 3rd century.  It is my intention to develop an accurate timeframe for this evolution and uncover the reasons for its implementation, as well as provide an in-depth analysis of this system’s organization and function in the late Roman world.

The Classics, Mussolini and the Rise of White Supremacy

A paper by Donna Storey, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 8 October in room 224, South Theatre, Old Arts.

Increasingly the Classics are being appropriated by nationalist and racist far-right groups.  This is not the first time the Classics have been utilised for right wing ideology; the adoption of similar strategies was a key aspect of propaganda for Mussolini’s Italian Fascist regime.  Such tactics should hardly be surprising — the idolisation of a carefully constructed representation of ancient Rome and its continued portrayal (along with Greece) as the birthplace and original pedigree of “western” culture fit conveniently into the far-right agenda.

In order to free the use of the Classics from fascist ideologies, perhaps it is time to reassess the manner in which the discipline is interpreted by contemporary scholars.  Would Mussolini have taken such care to craft Italy as a third Roman Empire if Caesar’s campaign in Gaul was defined as genocide?  Would current right-wing groups be so eager to utilise S.P.Q.R. as a symbol if the Roman Empire had always been construed as multicultural?  This seminar will explore whether it is only through a conscious effort to adopt a more objective approach to the study of the Classics that the falsities of the fascist narrative can be fully exposed.

Forty Years On: The Bab adh-Dhra’ Proposal and its Role in the Archaeological Curation Crisis

A paper by Gemma Lee, University of Melbourne, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 1 October in room 224, South Theatre, Old Arts.

Just over forty years ago, in 1977 a unique collection management initiative was proposed by Nancy Lapp to save a collection of Early Bronze Age pottery from Bab adh-Dhra’, an archaeological site in Jordan.  The initiative was developed in response to an intense curation crisis occurring in Jordan, as archaeological artefacts were threatened by a lack of resources to ensure their proper care.  This initiative is well known at the University of Melbourne, as the university received Tomb Group A 72 S from Bab adh-Dhra’ in 1978 due to Lapp’s solution to the crisis.  These objects were transported to the University, and 23 other institutions in the United States of America and Canada, on the condition that they would be used in education and display.

This seminar will discuss the role of the Bab adh-Dhra’ objects in education through an evaluation of the object-based learning (OBL) experiences of students studying Near Eastern archaeology (and related ancient world studies subjects) at the University of Melbourne.  The Bab adh-Dhra’ objects offer multiple levels for interpretation and consideration in the classroom: ranging from issues covering the archaeology of death and mortuary practices to the looting and subsequent excavation and post-excavation management of the site’s artefact assemblage . In this seminar, the extensive history of these objects will be presented alongside preliminary findings from my research which indicate favourable student responses verifying the efficacy of object-based learning in teaching and learning outcomes and engaging students in Near Eastern archaeology.

Attic Bell Bottoms: Hellenism and Hybridity in the Caucasus

A paper by Hilary Gopnick, Monash University, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 17 September in room 224, South Theatre, Old Arts.

Sometime between 400 and 200 BCE, either shortly before or shortly after Alexander brought down the Persian Empire, somebody dragged huge limestone blocks from a distant quarry to the top of the hill at Oǧlanqala in Naxçivan, Azerbaijan and began to carve them into column bases and drums.  Some of these column elements fit squarely with our knowledge of Hellenistic Greek architecture, but others are a peculiar and unique amalgamation of forms from the warring Achaemenid Persian and Hellenistic worlds.  Before the columns were raised, the construction site was abandoned, leaving the whole project unfinished and forgotten.  I will use the evidence from this unfinished building, excavated by a team from the University of Pennsylvania and Emory University, to evaluate the nature of the Hellenization of material culture that has marked our understanding of the immediate post-Achaemenid period.  Does Hellenistic hybridity take on a different meaning if it incorporates a fundamental symbol of Achaemenid centralized control like the bell-shaped base?

Classics and the Media

A paper by Marguerite Johnson, University of Newcastle, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Tuesday 18 September in Arts West North Wing Room 353 – Interactive Cinema Space.

Among the community and media, there is an increasing interest in Classics and Ancient History.  The relevance of, and fascination for the discipline, often sparked by current political and social debates, films and other forms of popular culture, as well as the passion inspired by leading scholars such as Mary Beard, means that now – more than ever – Classics and Ancient History have the potential to grow and inspire.  This talk looks at ways scholars can share the discipline with the community and provides some tips for effectively engaging with the media.

Marguerite Johnson is Professor of Classics at the University of Newcastle.  She is an interdisciplinary scholar who works in several key research areas, including Classical Reception Studies and studies of sexuality, gender and the body.  She is author of several books and articles, including (most recently) “Ovid on Cosmetics: Medicamina Faciei Femineae and Related Texts” (Bloomsbury: 2016).  A regular contributor to The Conversation and ABC Radio, Marguerite is also interested in strategies and initiatives around Classics and the community.

Natural World Imagery and the Sublime in the Gospel of Matthew

A paper by Dorothy Lee, University of Divinity, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 10 September in room 224, South Theatre, Old Arts.

In his depiction of creation, the Gospel of Matthew makes use of the ‘sublime’, a literary concept familiar to the ancient world through the treatise of Longinus, ‘On the Sublime’. In mountain scenes, sky signs and sea and land turbulence, Matthew’s Gospel shows an awareness of how the sublime operates within the narrative for moral transformation.