Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology (ACE) Work in Progress (WiP) Seminar Series
- Every Wednesday 3–4pm
- In person at Walbank Lecture Theatre (12 Abercromby Square)
- Attend remotely by Zoom. Zoom links, more details, and any late-breaking news, please follow Twitter/X feed, @ace_wip.
The Department of Archaeology, Classics, and Egyptology’s Work in Progress Seminar Series hosts weekly presentations, given by early career scholars, on all aspects of the ancient world and its reception, to an ever-growing interdisciplinary and international audience including (but not limited to) Archaeologists, Classicists, and Egyptologists.
We strive to make all our scheduled presentations broadly accessible to our interdisciplinary audience: you should never need prior familiarity with a presenter’s subject area in order to enjoy their presentation. Indeed, we strongly encourage you to just turn up (or tune in on Zoom) each week to hear about some exciting new research and some intriguing methodologies and ideas that you might never encounter within your own field. A Q&A session follows each presentation, so you can explore any aspect of the talk that intrigues you in more detail.
We welcome absolutely everyone who wishes to attend in person or online, regardless of their status within the University.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email the organizers (George Allen and Joel Sams) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
11 October: Urška Furlan (Swansea University)
Trade of Egyptian amulets during the first millennium BCE
In this presentation, Urška will explore the differences between magical ancient Egyptian amulets and the ‘copies’ of them that were made elsewhere in the ancient Near East, and how Egyptian cultural values and beliefs influenced other Mediterranean cultures, and vice versa.
As small magical objects, Egyptian amulets were very popular, accessible to most classes of society, and easily transported. With the beginning of the Iron Age, they began to be mass-produced in Egypt while foreign sailors, mercenaries, and tradesmen distributed them across the Mediterranean and the Levant. The present paper will present amulets found in the Egyptian Nile Delta and compare them with those from various areas of the Mediterranean. It will assess the predominant types, materials, and contexts in which they appear and subsequently discuss the trade networks of these small apotropaic objects. Different distribution patterns will be identified which will enable a discussion on Egyptian “original” samples and foreign “copies.” The paper will also touch on the topic of Egyptian cultural values and beliefs and how these influenced other Mediterranean cultures. Finally, the discussion will be inversed, and foreign influences in Egypt will be observed, where amulets paint a very different narrative.
18 October: Thomas Alexander Husøy-Ciaccia (Swansea University), Myth and history: uses of the past, identity, and the Achaean Federation
Myth and history: uses of the past, identity, and the Achaean Federation
In this presentation, Thomas will explore how expressions of identity within the Achaean League changed in antiquity, in particular the ways in which myth and cultural memory were used in order to support changing politics and changing identities.
During the Hellenistic period, the Achaean Federation assumed the role of fostering Pan-Peloponnesian sentiments, and at one point, they controlled most of the peninsula. This was done through the expansion of the Achaean Federation to other Peloponnesian areas, such as the cities Corinth, Epidaurus, and Megalopolis in the 240s and 230s BCE, and later most of the Peloponnese. It is the changing nature of Peloponnesian affairs in this period and the lasting memory of this that is the focus of this paper, which is divided into two sections. The first examines how Polybius, a prominent Achaean, applied myth and history in support of the political claims of the Achaean Federation. Identity within the federation was complex and consisted of several layers, as the Peloponnese was the home of several regional ethnic groups. Polybius provides an excellent case study for this, as he identified as both an Achaean and an Arcadian. The second section investigates the enduring memory of Aratus of Sicyon, as represented in the work of Plutarch, emphasising the long-term memory of this Achaean leader in ancient Greek uses of the past.
25 October: Aleksandra Pawlikowska-Gwiazda: Materiality and the economic activity of monks from Western Thebes in Late Antiquity
Materiality and the economic activity of monks from Western Thebes in Late Antiquity
In this presentation, Aleksandra will explore the transformation, in the 5th Century CE, of Western Thebes from a city of the dead into a city of monks, with tombs becoming hermitages, and hermitages becoming monastic settlements.
Western Thebes, located on the left bank of the Nile opposite Luxor in Upper Egypt, has functioned as a necropolis and a place of worship since the Old Kingdom. Its long history and unique geography have fascinated travellers, treasure hunters and scientists for centuries. Rock-hewn tombs of Egyptian officials and Pharaonic mortuary temples were repetitively reused. The major transformation of this site occurred in the turn of the 4th and 5th century CE with the advent of Christian anchorites. Throughout the following decades, the city of the dead turned into the city of monks – tombs became hermitages, which then grew into larger monastic settlements like lauras and monasteries.
The aim of this is speech is to present the result of my recently submitted PhD dissertation entitled “The material culture of monks of Western Thebes from 4th to 10th century”. My research is mainly based on the unpublished artefacts from the Monastery of St Phoibammon in Deir el-Bahari that I studied during excavations between 2018 and 2022. Archaeological data combined with literary texts and epigraphic sources gave even a broader perspective of the monastic milieu and allowed me to explore the subject of circulation of goods, monastic network, and trade, both within and outside Western Thebes.
2 November: Marina Sartori (University of Oxford) (co-produced with Liverpool Egyptology Seminars), Dealing with idiosyncratic graphic registers in ancient Egyptian manuscripts: the case of ms. Nakht (BM EA 10473)
Dealing with idiosyncratic graphic registers in ancient Egyptian manuscripts: the case of ms. Nakht (BM EA 10473)
In this presentation, Marina will explore the unexpected appearances of polychrome writing in a small number of New Kingdom ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead manuscripts, and what an examination of these manuscripts, particularly ms.Nakht, can tell us about the scribal culture that produced them.
The graphic aspects of writing in ancient Egypt encode information about the human agency behind an inscription, a relation recently termed ‘graphic registers’ by Chloé Ragazzoli and Florence Albert. Particularly significant are cases where a graphic register features in a context where it would not usually be expected: a small number of Eighteenth Dynasty manuscripts, originating from Theban tombs and containing the funerary composition Going Out in Daylight (ms. Nakht BM EA10473, P. Leiden T2, p. Cairo CG 51189) feature sections written in polychrome hieroglyphs, as opposed to the standard black linear script. This is highly exceptional, as polychrome hieroglyphs are characteristic of monumental contexts, and not of papyri.
The paper aims to identify the scribal culture which produced them, as well as their relation to the usual monumental arena of polychrome hieroglyphs. My methodology includes a systematic analysis of the scribal characteristics of ms. Nakht (personally examined in the British Museum), supplemented by a comparison of polychrome hieroglyphs from both manuscripts and other contemporaneous funerary media. This will enable a theorisation of graphic registers in funerary papyri and their social or ritual indexicality, together with a better understanding of the connections between their production and that of large-scale monuments.
8 November: Sonia Guerrini (Durham University), Rethinking goddesses in Egypt and Canaan during the Late Bronze Age
Rethinking goddesses in Egypt and Canaan during the Late Bronze Age
In this presentation Sonia Guerrini will explore how the Late Bronze Age’s historical and political events impacted the concepts and cults of goddesses in Egypt and Canaan, focusing especially on Hathor, Mut, Neith, Nut, Anat, Asherah, and Astarte.
The primary objective of this project is to investigate the changes in the conceptualization of goddesses in Egypt and Canaan during the Late Bronze Age, and the socio-political and economic factors that influenced these transformations. The LBA, a period of unprecedented contact and interchange between Egypt and the Southern Levant, witnessed significant historical and political events. However, the reciprocal impacts on the concepts and cults of goddesses in both regions remain understudied.
To understand these dynamics, the project focuses on prominent goddesses such as Hathor, Mut, Neith, Nut, Anat, Asherah, and Astarte. By analysing textual and material culture sources, including often overlooked archaeological evidence, the research investigates changes in the role, worship, and representation of these goddesses throughout the LBA. Comparing the interactions between Egypt and Canaan provides valuable insights into each area’s engagement with female power and how socio-political and economic changes influenced their religious beliefs.
15 November: Naomi Rubinstein with a contribution from Phil Freeman (University of Liverpool), Archiving an archive: the Brünnow and Domaszewski photographs of Transjordan
Archiving an archive: the Brünnow and Domaszewski photographs of Transjordan
In this presentation, Naomi and Phil will use the collection of Brünnow papers held at the Department of Art and Archaeology held at the University of Princeton to explore how and why Brünnow & Domaszewski embarked on their archaeological survey of Transjordan, while highlighting the difficulties of curating these papers.
In 1897/1898 two German academics Rudolf-Ernst Brünnow, and Alfred von Domaszewski completed the second and third part of an architectural survey expeditions to the Roman Province of Arabia (Transjordan). The results of the expeditions were published in three large volumes - Die Provincia Arabia (1905-1909). Such was the completion of the publication that research on Roman Transjordan did not resume until the 1970s. Brünnow and Domaszewski work still shapes part of current work.
We have been examining the why and the how Brünnow & Domaszewski embarked on the expedition, primarily using the collection of Brünnow papers held at the Department of Art and Archaeology held at the University of Princeton, NJ. While the archives held at Princeton appeared to be relatively straightforward, but things were not as they appeared.
Our research to date has revealed a far more complex understanding of the curation and dissemination of (collections) than previously assumed.
The results of a visit to Princeton this Summer explains a number of the problems encountered and our suggestions on the future of the collection and the struggles encountered when working with previously poorly curated collections.
22 November: Lucrezia Sperindio (University of Warwick), The intertextual speaker of Epodes 7
The intertextual speaker of Epodes 7
In this presentation, Lucrezia will explore the complex intertextuality of Horace’s Epodes 7, between the Thebaid and the Seven Against Thebes.
This paper suggests that Horace’s Epodes 7 stages an intertextual encounter between Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes and Statius’ Thebaid, which ultimately deepens our understanding of Horace’s epodic self-characterisation. Epodes 7 has been interpreted as a ‘mimetic poem’, in which an unknown speaker, traditionally identified with Horace, rebukes a crowd of Roman citizens for their involvement in the recent civil war(s). I argue that the traditional understanding of Horace’s models for this poem is valid only for the direct speech in lines 1-14, and that the shift from direct speech to third-person narrative, at line 15, invites a comparison with epic and tragic narrative, as featured in the passages from Statius and Aeschylus mentioned above. Statius’ evocation of the epode in the speech uttered by the seer and soldier Amphiaraus enacts an epic and, at the same time, tragic reading of it, as Amphiaraus’ speech is also modelled on the one that the same character gives in Aeschylus’ Seven. Thus, Epodes 7 performs and participates in a dialogue between two intertexts, while also juxtaposing the mythical figure of Amphiaraus to Horace’s own conflictual epodic identity, usually discussed in relation to other epodes.
29 November: Chang Lu (University of Liverpool), The syntax, cosmology and gods related to ẖni̓ (‘rowing’) in the Pyramid Texts
The syntax, cosmology and gods related to ẖni̓ (‘rowing’) in the Pyramid Texts
Information and abstract TBC
6 December: Marios Kamenou (University of Graz), The many names of Meter: tracking the diffusion of the goddess in Asia Minor during the Hellenistic period
The many names of Meter: tracking the diffusion of the goddess in Asia Minor during the Hellenistic period
In this presentation, Marios, looking especially at Ephesus, Priene, Pergamon, and Cyzicus, will explore how socio-political factors and ideological realignments allowed the goddess Meter to make her way from the fringes of the Hellenistic world in Bactria as far as the Western shores of the Mediterranean.
In his religious excursus on the Phrygian rites, Strabo records several Mother goddesses bearing a variety of names despite addressing the same divine entity. This description gives an insight to an interesting religious phenomenon that took place in the Hellenistic period and resulted in the unprecedented diffusion of a goddess from the fringes of the Hellenistic world in Bactria to the Western shores of the Mediterranean. My paper aims to discuss the political background of this process, evidencing how the formation of Hellenistic kingdoms and interregional relations stimulated the amalgamation of Greek and various indigenous communities and led to the re-interpretation and appropriation of religious traditions in service of new ideological alignments. The paper focuses on the cases of Ephesus, Priene, Pergamon and Cyzicus, which illustrate the importance of Meter’s cults as a means of negotiating and reaffirming the relation between the cities and the land, and of establishing a link between traditional and innovative, against the backdrop of new socio-political circumstances.
13 December: Benji de Almeida Newton (University of Cambridge), The conceptualisation of ruin in ancient Egypt
The conceptualisation of ruin in ancient Egypt
In this presentation, Benji will explore the various ways that the ancient Egyptians thought about the phenomenon of ruin through the lens of surviving monumental restoration inscriptions.
The aim of this research is to explore how the ancient Egyptians conceptualised the phenomenon of ruin, with an emphasis on monumental restoration inscriptions. The development of a taxonomy of ruin comprises the core of this research, often with regards to how ruin problematises both architectural form and function. So far, four principal manifestations of ruin have been identified: 1. Ruin as the breakdown of instructional authority and intergenerational pedagogy, epitomised by the subsequent disregard for mudbrick in favour of stone; 2. the physical liminality of ruin as being antithetical to both the inertness and productivity of the much-emulated primeval period; 3. ruin as the subversion of covered and uncovered architectural spaces, and, in connection with inappropriate concealment: 4. ‘forgetting’ a monument’s identity as a key expression of ruin, both on a communicative and cultural level. All four of these manifestations demonstrate that, for the ancient Egyptians, ruin does not exclusively refer to physical degradation but is symptomatic of the loss of a wide range of qualities intrinsic to a building’s monumentality.