11:00 am11:00

Lecture: Jan Dietrich (Aarhus University)

Title: "Suicide in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East"

Abstract: "Suicide raises questions about the meaning and purpose of human life, and the different ways society deals with it are currently being debated not only in society but in different fields of research as well. However, an extensive study of suicide in ancient Israel and its neighbouring cultures of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia has been missing, and it is the aim of the book presented to close this research gap. In my paper, building upon my book, I do not view suicide from medical or dogmatic-theological perspectives, which regard suicide as an act of mental illness or sinful deed. Instead, it is viewed from a historico-cultural and sociological perspective and focuses on the motives and meanings behind suicidal acts. By examining suicidal act from this angle, they are interpreted as attempts to solve basic problems of life, and the historical material available is categorised into three basic forms: escapist suicides, aggressive suicides, and suicides of passage and sacrifice."

10:30 am10:30

Symposium on the new Loeb edition of Early Greek Philosophy

On Saturday October 14th, CAM will host a symposium for the presentation, discussion, and celebration of the newly released nine-volume Loeb edition of Early Greek Philosophy (edited and translated by André Laks and Glenn Most).

Participants will include Glenn Most (Scuola Normale Superiore), André Laks (Université Paris-Sorbonne), Christian Wildberg (Princeton), and David Sider (NYU).

10:00 am10:00

The Creation of Roman History and Epigraphy: Theodor Mommsen from 1817 to 2017

A one-day conference marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Nobel Laureate Roman historian Theodor Mommsen.

Speakers will include: Clifford Ando (University of Chicago), Werner Eck (Universität zu Köln), Bruce Frier (University of Michigan), Harriet Flower (Princeton), William V. Harris (Columbia), and Stefan Rebenich (Universität Bern).

11:30 am11:30

Seminar: Francesco Guizzi (La Sapienza, University of Rome)

Professor Francesco Guizzi will be conducting a seminar at CAM.

Topic: "Water Supply in the Lycus Valley under the Roman Empire (I-III century CE)."

Abstract: "The seminar addresses the issue of the water supply of the two main cities in the Lycus Valley, an area of Asia Minor extending from the Maeander bight to the Lycus river: Hierapolis of Phrygia and Laodicea. Recent epigraphical discoveries shed fresh light on the topic. Among these a proconsular edict, unearthed in Laodicea in 2015, stands out. This public document provides an useful parallel with other sources, both literary and epigraphic."

IMPORTANT NOTE: This event will take place in the Papyrology and Epigraphy Reading Room of Butler Library, Columbia University. As this event will be conducted as a seminar, rather than a lecture, and due to the size of the room, space will be limited. As such, Columbia affiliates (or non-affiliates who have Columbia library access) who wish to attend are requested to register for the event. Additionally, because Butler Library is not open to the public, non-Columbia affiliates will be required to register at least one week in advance in order to be granted access to the library for the event. 

Image from Hurriyet Daily News
11:00 am11:00

Lecture: Seán Hemingway (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

TITLE: "Putting on a Show at The Met: The Creation of Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World"

ABSTRACT: In 2016, The Met presented a landmark exhibition of art from the Hellenistic Age in an historic collaboration between the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin whose celebrated sculptures comprised approximately one third of the 264 artworks in the exhibition, many of them traveling to the United States for the first time. The Hellenistic period, the three centuries between the death of Alexander the Great of Macedon in 323 B.C. and the establishment of the Roman Principate in 27 B.C., was a critical era in the history of Greek art that has traditionally received less attention than earlier periods. This major international loan exhibition examined the rich diversity of art forms that arose through the patronage of the royal courts of the Hellenistic Kingdoms placing a special emphasis on Pergamon, capital of the Attalid dynasty which ruled over large parts of Asia Minor. Seán Hemingway, a lead curator of the exhibition, takes a behind the scenes look at the conceptualizing of such an elaborate show and the complex process of bringing it and its catalogue to completion over the course of more than five years of dedicated work in collaboration with a large team of professionals at the Met and colleagues from twelve countries around the world.

NB: This lecture will take place in 612 Schermerhorn Hall.

Fragmentary colossal head of a youth, Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Fragmentary colossal head of a youth, Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

5:00 pm17:00

Lecture: Christelle Fischer-Bovet (USC)

TITLE: Identifying people in Hellenistic and Early Roman Egypt: A comparative perspective?

ABSTRACT: Hellenistic rulers and the Roman government were already exposed to the issue of identifying people for juridical and fiscal purposes. The systems that were used in Egypt at both periods have been variously interpreted and often contrasted. By looking at legal and fiscal documents preserved on papyri, this paper explores how official categories of persons allowed both states to single out groups that were particularly valuable to the state formation process and whose loyalty was essential. It suggests that both systems are more similar than usually thought and that the Roman system in Egypt can be understood as a systematization of developments already occurring in the last century of Ptolemaic rule. However, in contrast to the early period Ptolemaic, this systematization did not create new elites, but rather maintained the privileges of most of the same families.

Please note that this lecture will be taking place on Tuesday evening.

BGU 14 2367 (Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum P. 25301)

BGU 14 2367 (Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum P. 25301)

Columbia's Archaeological Campaign at Hadrian's Villa (APAHA Tibur 2016)
5:30 pm17:30

Columbia's Archaeological Campaign at Hadrian's Villa (APAHA Tibur 2016)

  • Teatro, Italian Academy

Professors Francesco de Angelis (Columbia) and Marco Maiuro (Rome La Sapienza, and Columbia), directors of the Advanced Program of Ancient History and Art (APAHA) will present the main results of the excavation at Hadrian’s Villa, discuss the historical significance of the findings, and announce some exciting developments of the project for 2017.

With over 80 participants—35 of whom enrolled in the Classical Studies Summer Class and several others returning as “veterans” from previous iterations of it—the 2016 fieldwork season has been the most intensive and the most productive one since the inception of the program. The excavation of the “Lararium” courtyard revealed a pre-Hadrianic channel running under the precinct’s floor and provided further data on the Medieval phases of the complex. The continuation of the exploration of the building in the area of the so-called Macchiozzo brought to light new rooms with their mosaics and their painted walls and ceilings. Furthermore, the expansion of the excavation in the surroundings of the Macchiozzo building began to uncover architectural remains that were last seen (and only partially documented) by Piranesi in the 18th century.

This presentation will take place in the Teatro (2nd floor) of the Italian Academy, Columbia University. A reception will follow. All welcome! Please click here to register for the event.

11:00 am11:00

Lecture: Ian Moyer (Michigan)

Professor Moyer's lecture, originally scheduled for February 10, has been postponed to Friday, March 10.

Title: "At the gates of the temple: Tracing the boundaries of Hellenistic political culture in Ptolemaic Egypt" 

Abstract: "The Hellenistic polis, as a recent body of scholarship has shown, manifested its political identity and authority through a range of shared epigraphic, material and spatial practices – practices that defined the public space of the city. To what extent did that common Hellenistic political culture extend to Ptolemaic Egypt?  Through an examination of priestly decrees, statues, and other practices of the temple gates and forecourts, this paper attempts to trace the boundaries of Hellenistic political culture and the limits of its recognition."

Edfu Temple Pylon

Edfu Temple Pylon

11:00 am11:00

Lecture: Caitlín Barrett (Cornell)

Title: "Recontextualizing Nilotic Scenes: Interactive Landscapes in the Garden of the Casa dell’Efebo, Pompeii"

Abstract: "Despite long-standing scholarly interest in Roman “Aegyptiaca,” much work remains to be done to contextualize Egyptian or Egyptian-style material culture found in domestic settings. This need is especially pressing for “Nilotic scenes,” or wall paintings and mosaics depicting the Nile. While previous studies have identified general areas in ancient houses where such imagery was common, many questions remain open concerning the relationships between these Egyptian landscapes and their surrounding architectural installations, decorative ensembles, and artifactual assemblages. This talk employs the frescoes from the garden triclinium of the Casa dell’Efebo, Pompeii, as a case study in the recontextualization of “Nilotica.” In contrast to older interpretations emphasizing Isis cult or anti-Egyptian stereotypes, a contextual analysis of this garden installation suggests new possibilities. Even as the Egyptian landscapes introduce a seemingly exotic element into domestic space, other aspects of the garden setting familiarize and domesticate the imagery. Simultaneously far away and familiar, the imagined landscapes of the garden transform domestic space into a microcosm ofoikoumene and encourage viewers to engage in multiple possible ways with changing constructions of imperial, local, and cultural identities.”

11:00 am11:00

Lecture: Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

TITLE: "From Hortus to Hayr: The Connections between Classical and Early Islamic Gardens"


The continuity between the visual and material culture of the classical and the early Islamic worlds is well established. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Great Mosque in Damascus were decorated with stunning mosaics that drew upon the traditions of late antiquity. Scholars have yet to fully consider the relationship between classical and early Islamic gardens. The charbagh (quadripartite) garden, defined as the quintessential Islamic garden, was once thought to be an ancient Persian design; however, a recent reconsideration of the evidence at Pasargadae has demonstrated that this was not the case. Therefore, it is an opportune moment to examine the connections between ancient and early Islamic gardens.

The mosaics in the courtyard of the Great Mosque in Damascus contained architecture and landscapes that evoked the architectural traditions of Alexandria and second style Roman wall paintings. While the landscapes in the Great Mosque of the Damascus have been interpreted either as representations of the local landscape and the Barada River or of Paradise, the other evidence for early Islamic gardens and landscapes has yet to be explored in depth. Using the mosaics of the Great Mosque as a starting point, this talk examines the evidence for continuity and transformation between the gardens and landscapes of classical antiquity and those of the early Islamic world in Syro-Palestine and Iberia. Several of the folios from some of the earliest known Qur’ans, discovered in the roof of the Great Mosque in Sana’a, Yemen, include representations of mosque architecture. Three folios also depict plants and trees. I consider how these Qur’anic landscapes relate to the landscapes in the Great Mosque of Damascus and to those appearing in the floor mosaics of late antique churches.

            The second part of this talk focuses on the archaeological evidence for early Islamic gardens and landscapes. The so-called “Desert Castles” of the Umayyad period (661–750 CE) are an important source of evidence for understanding the conceptualization and construction of early Islamic gardens and bounded landscapes. Specifically, this paper considers the hayrs, or the bounded hunting parks, that were associated with many of the 8th-century Umayyad caliphal residences, including Khirbat al-Mafjar, Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi (West), and Rusafa. For the “Desert Castles,” where we lack any trace of enclosed gardens, the artistic representations of hunting scenes (e.g. Qusayr ‘Amra) inform us about the importance of hunting as an expression of kingship.

The gardens of Islamic Iberia, where there was a long and well-developed tradition of Roman and late antique villa and domestic gardens, is also important for understanding the debt of the early Islamic garden and villa to the villa and garden traditions of the ancient Mediterranean. Recent scholarship on the munya, the early Islamic villa, has demonstrated that the munyas and their gardens and cultivated enclosures were an important aspect of the Iberian landscape during the transition from late antiquity to the early Medieval period. The presence of courtyard gardens in the 10th-century palatial city of Madinat al-Zahra (outside Cordoba) and in other cites is also examined. The concepts of the villa urbana and the villa rustica have been used by James Dickie to interpret the gardens of Islamic Spain, especially those of the Madinat al-Zahra, and those of the Alhambra palace in Granada.  This paper reassesses the use of Roman concepts to interpret the gardens of Islamic Iberia and the legacy of Roman gardens in these important Islamic gardens.

11:00 am11:00

R.R.R. Smith (Oxford)

Talk title: The Archaeology of Antinous and a bust from Roman Syria

Abstract: The talk presents an inscribed bust of Antinous and sets it in the context of his empire-wide archaeology. The bust is an old find that has recently re-surfaced. Its study, conservation, and significance will be described, and some more general points about Antinous’ cult and the shape of his archaeological remains will be made.

Nov 12

Refuge and Refugees in the Ancient World

A two-day conference exploring the issues of refuge and refugees in the ancient world, organized by a committee of CAM-affiliated graduate students and sponsored by CAM. For details, please visit the conference's webpage.

10:00 am10:00

(Non-CAM event): Harvard/Max Planck PhD Fellowship Program and Student Symposium October 29th on Science of the Human Past

Michael McCormick, Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History at Harvard, has asked CAM to announce an opportunity for graduating seniors, and potentially for Master’s students, to participate in a Symposium scheduled at Harvard University on Saturday, October 29th as part of their Initiative for the Science of the Human Past (http://sohp.fas.harvard.edu/), a collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Jena, Germany).  Students will have an opportunity to present cross-disciplinary research which utilizes modern scientific tools and knowledge to illuminate the history of humanity, and to network with other students and faculty members similarly engaged.  An interest in the Ancient Mediterranean is desirable but not indispensable.

The Symposium will also be an opportunity to learn about a new PhD Fellowship opportunity for the 2017-2018 academic year and beyond.  Through a collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Harvard is expecting to offer up to three 5-year fully-funded PhD fellowships for study and research on the science of the human past.  PhD degrees will be awarded through Harvard University, notably in the following departments:

  • The Archaeology Program within the Anthropology Department
  • History
  • Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
  • Additional Departments Forthcoming

Candidates for the Fellowship will apply for admission to one of these Harvard University PhD Programs to be considered eligible for this full funding opportunity through the Max Planck-Harvard collaboration.  Applicants must specify their interest in the SoHP Fellowship Program at the top of the application, and must additionally send a copy of the application to sohpchair@fas.harvard.edu, or via mail to:

Lisa Ransom Lubarr
Harvard University
Robinson Hall M-03
35 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA02138

For students coming from outside the Boston/Cambridge area for the October 29th Symposium, a limited number of awards of up to $500 to defray lodging and travel costs are available.  Students interested in applying for the Symposium should arrange to send a letter of application, along with an abstract of research to be presented, a CV, an academic transcript, and a letter of recommendation.

Inquiries can be sent to: sohpchair@fas.harvard.edu.

11:00 am11:00

Gilles Bransbourg (ANS/ISAW)

"Taxation and inequality in the later Roman Empire"

Abstract: The Dioscorus and the Apion dossiers from 6th century CE Egypt represent a unparalleled opportunity to bring quantitative methods into the study of the Greco-Roman economies. With a combined total of more than a thousand chronologically overlapping documents from two different administrative regions, the material from these two dossiers sheds light on the micro-economic situation of large and small estates. This lecture leverages on many of these accounts—including some still unpublished—in order to reach estimates of the available agricultural surplus, its distribution between tenants, owners and state, their degree of economic rationality, and the evolution of the imperial taxation policy. Close examination of the documents provides an image of the ancient economy that contradicts familiar assumptions of stability: taxation evolved in response to political and military necessities, and economic actors had to adapt in order to thrive or at least survive in times of fiscal crisis. At the same time, the available evidence leads to a sense of provincial unity and of a surprisingly equitable and efficient implementation of tax processing in Egypt.

11:00 am11:00

Christopher Gill (Exeter)

Talk title: "Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Book 1: How Roman and How Stoic?"

Abstract: This lecture contributes to the burgeoning field of Roman philosophy by a close reading of book of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, focusing on the interplay between typically Roman and Stoic strands. Book 1 has a rather different ‘voice’ from the other books, gives a prominent role to Roman themes, and is less obviously informed by Stoic ideas. However, on closer inspection, the approach and organisation of the book is decisively shaped by Stoic thinking, especially on ethical development; its use of exemplarity is also informed by Stoic thinking. However, Marcus assumes a version of Stoic ethics and politics which is compatible with engagement with Roman social modes. The lecture closes by considering the conception of self, and self-shaping, implied in Book 1.

4:00 pm16:00

CAM Graduate Tour 2016 Retrospective

Participants in the 2016 CAM Graduate Tour to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco will speak about the trip and their experiences. Open to the Columbia community; graduate students who are interested in applying for the 2017 Graduate Tour (location tbd) are encouraged to attend. 

Oct 1


  • 612 Schermerhorn





Co-Sponsored by the Classical Studies Graduate Program at Columbia University

The finalized conference program can be found hereAll abstracts can be read here.

Don't miss the production of Aristophanes' Knights—an adaptation by Brittany Johnson— that will take place on 9/28, 9/29 and 9/30 in connection with the conference. Visit Knights' Facebook page for more information and ticket sales.

11:00 am11:00

Katja Vogt (Columbia)

  • Italian Academy, 5th floor seminar room

Talk title: "Plato on Hunger and Thirst"


Throughout the dialogues, Plato seems committed to the claim that desire is for the good. Repeatedly, Plato discusses hunger and thirst as examples of desires. Accordingly, it would seem that hunger and thirst must be for the good. And yet, in a famous passage in Book IV of the Republic—right at the beginning of the discussion of tripartition—Socrates seems to say that hunger (πεῖνα) and thirst (δίψα) aim at food and drink, not at good food or good drink (438a; 437d-439a). Are hunger and thirst exceptions to the general premise that desire is for the good? On the reading I propose, this way of framing the question moves too quickly. Moreover, it is an ill fit with Plato’s suggestion that hunger/thirst are paradigmatic desires. As I argue, Plato offers an account of hunger and thirst that is inherently interesting and that uncovers a general feature of desire: desire has an unqualified and a qualified dimension. There are kinds of desires: hunger, thirst, the desire for appreciation by others, desire for knowledge, etc., are kinds of desires. A kind of desire is what it is by having its object; say, thirst is for drink, sans qualification. In qualified hunger/thirst, both unqualified and qualified hunger/thirst are psychologically real: a person who is, say, thirsty for hot drink is also unqualifiedly thirsty. This proposal, which I call Two Dimensions, captures motivational phenomena that are highly recognizable: being hungry and aiming to determine what one is hungry for, or analogously and in the domain of reason, wanting to study and still figuring out what field it is that one wants to study. Two Dimensions is compatible with the premise that desire is for the good because the objects of paradigmatic desires are inherently valuable. Whether or not a given drink is a good drink, qua drink it is of value. Similarly, whatever knowledge someone pursues, qua knowledge it is valuable.