Past Events 2012

Why Did Early Greeks Build Temples?

Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre, University of Melbourne, Wednesday September 5, 6:30

Professor Cathy Morgan, Director, British School at Athens; Professor of Classical Archaeology, King’s College, London

Temples are nowadays taken for granted as essential features of Greek sanctuaries. Yet following the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces, the nature and function of buildings at cult sites varied greatly – and many sanctuaries were entirely open air. From the eighth century onwards, a marked increase in the number of buildings has led to discussion of how and why the idea of a temple arose and was widely adopted, with a greater consensus about its ideal built form then emerging through the seventh and sixth centuries as the architectural orders took shape. Far from being a simple progression widely explicable in broad social terms (as the ‘rise of the polis’), the variety of Early Iron Age buildings found in recent years suggests a series of local decisions which can only be understood in the context of previous cult practice. In turn, the development of consensus views about building form and decoration is a distinct further step which raises additional questions about patterns of communication, use of materials and mobility of craftsmen.

This lecture will draw on extensive new discoveries and studies over the past decade to explore how and why the notion of a temple emerged as widely as it did. While evidence from across Greece will be considered, special attention will be paid to the area of the Corinthian Gulf, where complex economic and social linkages by land and sea cut across city-state boundaries, contributing to the sharing of ideas and to deliberate patterns of emulation and differentiation.

Professor Catherine Morgan is the Director of The British School at Athens and has lectured in Classical Archaeology at King’s College London since 1997 (where she has been Professor since 2004). She is the author of Phanagoria Studies 1: Attic Fine Pottery of the Archaic to Hellenistic Periods in Phanagoria (Brill, 2004), Early Greek States Beyond the Polis (Brill, 2003) and Isthmia VIII: The Mycenaean Settlement and Early Iron Age Sanctuary (Princeton, 1999). Her most recent archaeological fieldwork projects include the Meganisi Archipelago Project, the Ancient theatre of Sparta and the Stavros Valley Project in Ithaka. She is the 2012 Annual Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA) Visiting Professor and her visit to Melbourne is sponsored in part by the Classical Association of Victoria.

Pre-Roman Sicily: At the Crossroads of Indigenous and Settler Civilizations

Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre, University of Melbourne, Thursday July 19, 6:30

Professor Sebastiano Tusa

For some two millennia, the strategically located island of Sicily harboured a unique and yet often ignored civilization. This lecture, delivered by one of the world’s leading specialists, will provide a fascinating perspective on Sicily’s thriving pre-Roman civilization. The closing centuries of the 2nd millennium BCE witnessed the rise of a proto-urban development that produced sizeable and socially stratified settlements in Sicily. This process was interrupted by migration of some ethnic groups from the Italian Peninsula around 1000 BCE and by a series of Greek and Phoenician colonisation waves. This transformational period saw a great impulse in urban planning, architecture and art in the Greek part of Sicily, while its now predominantly Phoenician west became an integral part of Carthage’s large-scale international trade operation. This distinct subdivision of Sicily into three different ethnic, political and cultural enclaves would roughly last until the gradual Roman conquests of the First and Second Punic Wars (264-201 BCE).

Professor Sebastiano Tusa is Professor of Prehistory at the Corso di Laurea in Beni Culturali – Università Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples. He has over forty years’ experience in the survey and excavation of archaeological sites in Italy, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. Since 2004 and 2011 respectively he also holds the position of Soprintendenza del Mare of Regione Siciliana as well that of Superintendent of Cultural Heritage for the Province of Trapani. Professor Tusa has published numerous books and articles on the pre-history of Sicily and Mediterranean maritime archaeology.

Professor Tusa’s visit is sponsored by the Italian Institute of Culture.

New Light on Prehistoric Nicosia: Evidence From Recent Excavations

Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne, Tuesday July 10, 6:00

Dr Giorgos Georgiou

Nicosia, the modern capital of Cyprus, is built on top of the remains of several ancient settlements. From a Chalcolithic village, founded around 3000 BCE, it developed into an important town during the Bronze Age. As the remains of this Bronze Age settlement are buried deep under Medieval Nicosia, the most prolific source of information has proven to be its cemeteries.

The Cyprus Department of Antiquities vies with modern building development to rescue as much information as it can for the capital’s history. In this lecture Dr Georgiou presents an overview of the results of excavations he has conducted in the Bronze Age necropolis of Nicosia during the last decade.

The lecture will be preceded with an introduction on the Australian involvement in Cypriot archaeology by Dr Jennifer Webb from the Archaeology Program at La Trobe University.

Dr Giorgos Georgiou is a Senior Archaeological Officer in the Department of Antiquities of the Republic of Cyprus. His PhD thesis was titled The Topography of Human Settlement in Cyprus During the Early and Middle Bronze Age. He has directed excavations at sites of all periods in Cyprus but his research interests are focused on the Cypriot Bronze Age and the Cypriot city-kingdoms.

His duties in the Department of Antiquities include the management of exhibitions of Cypriot antiquities both in Cypriot museums and abroad. He recently published a book on an Early Bronze Age cemetery at the Cypriot village of Psematismenos and has written numerous papers on his excavations at Nicosia, Kition and elsewhere.

This lecture was supported by the Bank of Cyprus Australia, the Cyprus High Commission and La Trobe University.

The Two Mistakes About Stoic Ethics

Kaye Scott Room, Ormond College, 49 College Crescent, Parkville, Monday 28 May, reception at 6:00, lecture at 6:30 – W.H. Allen Memorial Lecture

Professor Dan Russell

Here is a pair of ideas that are central in Stoics ethics: one, virtue is the only good, and two, virtue is all we need for happiness. A third idea seems clear as well, namely that those first two ideas are connected somehow. Surprisingly, though, scholars ancient and modern have given this connection two very different interpretations. The ancient interpretation has it that the thesis that virtue is the only good is what explains why virtue is all we need for happiness and the modern interpretation has it that the latter is what explains the former. Professor Dan Russell argues that both interpretations are wrong and explains why understanding what is wrong about them is crucial for appreciating why the Stoic position on happiness still needs to be reckoned with.

Professor Dan Russell is the Percy Seymour Reader in Ancient History and Philosophy at Ormond College, a Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and Professor of Philosophy in the Arizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona (Tucson). He specialises in ancient philosophy and moral philosophy. His research focuses on living well: personal excellence, human well-being and the relation between the two. He is the author, with Oxford University Press’ Clarendon imprint, of Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life (2005), Practical Intelligence and the Virtues (2009) and Happiness for Humans (forthcoming 2012) and is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2012).

At the Allen Memorial Lecture, the Classical Association of Victoria will award the Alexander Leeper Prize for students who completed Honours in Classics in 2011.

The Monastery of Aghios Lot in Jordan

Elisabeth Murdoch Theatre A, University of Melbourne, Wednesday 16 May, 6:30

Dr Konstantinos Politis

The Monastery of Aghios Lot is located at the south-eastern shore of the Dead Sea on a steep mountain slope overlooking the modern town of Safi (biblical Zoara) in Jordan. It is accurately depicted on the early Byzantine mosaic floor map at Madaba in Jordan. The monastery was excavated from 1988-2003. The focal point was a basilica church built around a natural cave which early Christians believed was where Lot and his daughters took refuge after the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19). The church is adorned by five mosaic pavements inscribed in early Byzantine-period Greek and dated to A.D. 572/3, 605/7 A.D. and 691 A.D. Three Greek inscriptions on stone which invoke ‘Aghios Lot’ confirm the identification of the site as Lot’s Sanctuary. The site was occupied until the 8th-9th centuries A.D., indicating a continued veneration of Lot by Christians and Muslims alike.

Konstantinos D. Politis is a Greek archaeologist based at the British Museum since 1988. He specialises in the Early Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. Dr Politis’ most important work was the discovery and excavation of the Monastery of St Lot in Jordan, publishing a major report on that project, three other books and a number of articles. He is founder and chairperson of the Hellenic Society for Near Eastern Studies and an active member of the Palestine Exploration Fund (London). Dr Politis leads the conservation project of St Lot, and is Director of Interpretation and Design for the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth at that site. Recently he has completed two projects in Syria: documenting mosaics of Syria, and an exhibition on ‘Hellenistic Syria’. Currently Dr Politis leads excavations of biblical Zoara in Jordan, and at Ra’s al-Hadd in Oman.

Why the Stoics Think There is No Right Way to Grieve

Public Lecture Theatre, Old Arts Building, University of Melbourne, Wednesday 2 May, 6:30

Professor Dan Russell

Grief is an emotional response to loss that we think can be healthy and even appropriate. Epictetus and other ancient Stoic philosophers disagree: they hold the radical view that there is no healthy way to grieve and that true happiness depends entirely on the choices we make, not on anything that can be given or taken away. Many modern readers dismiss the Stoics as obsessed with invulnerability, but Professor Dan Russell thinks that this is too hasty. We grieve because we stake our happiness on things we cannot control, but the Stoics say that such a view of our happiness is ultimately what jeopardizes our character, our freedom and even our very humanity. Whether we agree with the Stoics about grief or not, Russell argues, they do have a point about happiness that demands to be reckoned with.

Professor Dan Russell is the Percy Seymour Reader in Ancient History and Philosophy at Ormond College, a Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and Professor of Philosophy in the Arizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona (Tucson). He specialises in ancient philosophy and moral philosophy. His research focuses on living well: personal excellence, human well-being and the relation between the two. He is the author, with Oxford University Press’ Clarendon imprint, of Plato on Pleasure and the Good Life (2005), Practical Intelligence and the Virtues (2009) and Happiness for Humans (forthcoming 2012) and is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2012).

The ‘Golden Age of Solomon’: Fact or Fiction

Australian Institute of Archaeology, Building EC 11, La Trobe University, Terrace Way, MacLeod, (Melways 873-4). Saturday 21 April, 2:00, Sponsored by the Australian Institute of Archaeology.

Professor William G. Dever

The Bible portrays King Solomon as the ruler of a vast empire, rich as Croesus, the wisest man who ever lived, with 1,000 wives. Yet recently a group of scholars calling themselves ‘revisionists’ have claimed that the Bible’s Solomon was no more historical than King Arthur. This illustrated lecture will show that monumental architecture attributed to Solomon at Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer has been discovered to reflect the description in I Kings 9: 15-17. Solomon’s kingdom may have been reasonably modest, but it did exist and it left archaeological evidence. This will trace the history of the Albright/Wright Biblical Archaeology paradigm and suggest a new way forward out of the current maximalist/minimalist impasse.

Prof Dever is in Australia as a guest of the Australian Institute of Archaeology to deliver the 2012 Petrie Oration.

Idalion and the Bible

Australian Institute of Archaeology, Building EC 11, La Trobe University, Terrace Way, MacLeod, (Melways 873-4). Saturday 21 April, 3:30, Sponsored by the Australian Institute of Archaeology.

Dr Pam Gaber

The island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean has yielded hundreds of votive sculptures from the first millennium BCE. A study of these sculptures reveals information about religious worship in the Ancient Near East. In addition, a detailed examination of these collections can actually tell us about trade relations and travel, not only between sites on Cyprus, but between Cyprus and the Levant. Such an examination may also reveal chronological sequences and even hints about the nature of worship in ancient Near East, including Israel.

Reflections on the Death of Biblical Archaeology

Australian Institute of Archaeology, Building EC 11, La Trobe University, Terrace Way, MacLeod, (Melways 873-4). Friday 20 April, 7:30 for 8:00.

Petrie Oration 2012, Sponsored by the Australian Institute of Archaeology.

Professor William G. Dever

From its beginning in the mid-19th century ‘Biblical Archaeology’ has dominated archaeological investigation in the Middle East. Yet its agenda was more theological that archaeological. By the 1980s it was clear that the agenda had failed: archaeology had not ‘proven the Bible true’. In time a new, specialized, professional and secular archaeology emerged. The aim was a dialogue between two independent yet related disciplines. The goal would be to write new histories of ancient Israel, Judaism and early Christianity. Yet today the discipline has fragmented. The lecture will explore a possible future for both ‘Biblical’ and Levantine Archaeology.

Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel

Elisabeth Murdoch Building, Theatre A, University of Melbourne, Wednesday 18 April, 6:30

Professor William G. Dever

The Hebrew Bible portrays the religion of ancient Israel as monotheistic, the worship of a single male deity named Yahweh. Yet the archaeological data recently accumulated shows that this may have been the ideal, but the reality was quite different. We have hundreds of nude female figurines that represent the old Canaanite Mother Goddess ‘Asherah’. We even have 8th-century BCE Hebrew inscriptions naming her as the consort of Yahweh in the context of blessing. This illustrated lecture will show how monotheism developed slowly and with great difficulty in ancient Israel.

William G. Dever (b. 1933) is an American archaeologist, specialising in the history of Israel and the Near East in Biblical times. He was Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Arizona in Tucson from 1975 to 2002. Dever is a 1955 graduate of Milligan College. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1966. He was Director of the Harvard Semitic Museum-Hebrew Union College Excavations at Gezer from 1966-71, 1984 and 1990; Director of the dig at Khirbet el-Kôm and Jebel Qacaqir (West Bank) from 1967-71; Principal Investigator at Tell el-Hayyat excavations (Jordan) 1981-85 and Assistant Director, University of Arizona Expedition to Idalion, Cyprus, 1991, among other excavations. Dever joined the faculty at Lycoming College, Pennsylvania, in autumn 2008 where he was appointed Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology. His recent books include: What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel, Eerdmans (2001); Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come from?, Eerdmans (2003); Did God Have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel, Eerdmans (2005).

Prof Dever is in Australia as a guest of the Australian Institute of Archaeology to deliver the 2012 Petrie Oration.

Annual General Meeting

Theatre D, Old Arts Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Wednesday 7 March, 6:20

The next Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Classical Association of Victoria will take place before Prof. Kienast’s lecture: Wednesday, 7 March, 2012, Theatre D, Old Arts Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville. The AGM runs for 10 minutes, beginning at 6.20 pm. Prof Kienast’s public lecture begins at 6.30 pm. The AGM will include the election of office bearers. Any nominations for the following positions should reach the Honorary Secretary (email preferred: koc@unimelb.edu.au) by Friday 2 March:

  • president
  • secretary
  • treasurer
  • council members.

Nominations should be signed by the nominee and seconded.

The Tower of the Winds at Athens: Architecture and Function

Theatre D, Old Arts Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Wednesday 7 March, 6:30

Professor Hermann J. Kienast, University of Athens

The Tower of the Winds at Athens is one of the most ingenious creations of ancient architecture. Based on an octagonal floor plan, the marble edifice is decorated immediately below the roof, with a frieze depicting eight winds as personifications. The building’s layout is highly sophisticated and accentuated by unusual technical gadgets: the eight outer wall segments exhibit sundials, while the interior accommodated a fascinating planetarium, the first monumental one we know of. The lecture explains all the architectural details and the mechanism of the Planetarium.

Hermann J. Kienast, former vicechair of the German Archaeological Institute in Athens and a trained architect, has devoted his career to the study of ancient Greek architecture. For twenty years (1984-2004) he was head of excavations at the sanctuary of Hera on the island of Samos. Prof Kienast is a Member of the Academy of Sciences Athens and Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Athens.

This lecture is part of the Public Lecture Series of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS) at the University of Melbourne. Admission is free. Seating is limited.

The Song of Ares and Aphrodite

Theatre 3, ICT Building (111 Barry St, Carlton), University of Melbourne, Tuesday 21 February, 11:00

Professor Richard Hunter

Richard Hunter is Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge University (U.K.) and a graduate of the University of Sydney. His publications include commentaries on Hellenistic poets (such as Apollonius of Rhodes, Theocritus and Callimachus) and the ancient Greek novel. Professor Hunter’s seminar is co-hosted with La Trobe University.

Details.

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