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CFP: The Afterlife of Roman Sculpture II 28 June 2010

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International Seminar
Department of Classical Archaeology, Aarhus University
Friday 25 March 2011

In 2008, Aarhus University hosted a seminar on “The Afterlife of Roman Sculpture: Late Antique Perceptions and Practices” that aimed to look at the variety of late antique perceptions of statuary, focusing on a few select regional case studies – from Alexandria in the east to Britain in the north – , and such diverse phenomena as collecting, deposition and destruction. This follow-up seminar is envisaged as providing an opportunity for both senior and junior scholars to arrive at a broader understanding of the fate of Graeco-Roman statuary during the period between the fourth and the seventh centuries AD. It is hoped that by integrating both textual and archaeological approaches, as well as empirical and theoretical methodologies, it is possible to provide a rich and multifaceted picture of the changes in the sculptural landscape of the Classical world.

The seminar will consist of three keynote papers by Prof. John Pollini (USC, Los Angeles), Prof. Franz Alto Bauer (LMU, Munich) and Prof. Ortwin Dally (DAI, Berlin), and five 30-minute papers. Abstracts for papers and short CVs are therefore invited for submission by 8 September 2010. Accepted speakers will be provided with full funding including travel costs and accommodation at Aarhus, thanks to the generous support of the Danish Research Council.

Please send proposals to Troels Myrup Kristensen (klatmk@hum.au.dk), Assistant Professor, PhD, Department of Classical Archaeology, Aarhus University

Autumn 2008 8 August 2008

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Here are my “gigs” for autumn 2008:

Friday 26 September
The Afterlife of Roman Sculpture: Late Antique Perceptions and Practices
University of Aarhus
“The Afterlife of Sculpture in Late Antique Alexandria.”

Friday 10 October
Danish Institute in Damascus, Syria
“Statues in Space: The Display of Sculpture in the Late Antique Cities of the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Thursday and Friday 23-24 October
Patrons and Viewers in Late Antiquity
University of Aarhus
“Iconophobia in Late Antiquity: Early Christian Viewers and the Transformation of Pagan Sculpture.”

Saturday 15 November
Debating Urbanism: Within and Beyond the Walls
University of Leicester, UK
“The Display of Statues in the Late Antique Cities of the Eastern Mediterranean: Reflections on Memory, Meaning, and Aesthetics.”

Monday-Wednesday 15-17 December

Theoretical Archaeology Group: Archaeologies of Destruction session
University of Southampton, UK
Title TBA.
Call for papers here.

TAG Session: Archaeologies of Destruction 7 August 2008

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Here’s an abstract for a session on ‘Archaeologies of Destruction’, to be held at the upcoming TAG in Southampton, 15-17 December:

Archaeologies of destruction
Ben Croxford (btcroxford@yahoo.co.uk) and Troels Myrup Kristensen (University of Aarhus; klatmk@hum.au.dk)

It is often the norm that material studied archaeologically is incomplete or in some way damaged. Despite the frequent engagement with the bits and pieces in question, the processes responsible for this state are not often explicitly tackled. The work of Chapman (2000; 2007) has emphasised the possibilities where broken objects are concerned and encouraged consideration of the means of production, i.e. destruction: challenging assumptions relating to destruction as an act and damaged as a condition that renders objects redundant. Many researchers are working on these issues, dealing with assemblages of damaged objects and considering the implications of their breaking. Such work though is often carried out in isolation, in part due to the range of object types, periods and geographic regions involved. This session offers an opportunity to draw together these ultimately similar efforts, these archaeologies of destruction. This will enable a broad consideration of a variety of damaged assemblages and ideas surrounding the act of damage and its social significance.

The treatment of anthropomorphic sculpture offers a particularly interesting prospect for consideration. Damage to such objects is common and found in a range of periods and regions. Several historic instances are well-known and seemingly well-understood i.e. the various campaigns of Christian iconoclasm. Current research (e.g. Graves 2008) offers new insights into such events, adding complexity to the often simplistic older narratives of straightforward destruction to cease use. The interaction such damage represents is infinitely more multifaceted than often allowed, offering insight into concepts of damage within wider society (both our own and those of the past). Furthermore, the anthropomorphic character of the material has specific implications for understanding engagement with flesh and blood bodies and the manipulation of these. Destruction is a common activity and well attested archaeologically. The aim of this session is to bring together the various strands of thought concerning such action to enable an archaeology of destruction.

Chapman 2000. Fragmentation in Archaeology: People, Places and Broken Objects in the Prehistory of South Eastern Europe.
Chapman, J. and Gaydarska, B. 2007. Parts and Wholes: Fragmentation in prehistoric context.
Graves, C.P. 2008. ‘From an archaeology of iconoclasm to an anthropology of the body: Images, punishment and personhood in England, 1500–1660’. Current Anthropology 49 no.1: 35–57.

Abstracts for papers can be submitted here.

The ‘Mediterranization’ of TRAC? 28 April 2008

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Earlier this month I was in Amsterdam for the 18th Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC). This was the first TRAC to be held outside the UK and reflected what appears to be a growing continental interest in theoretical discussion within Roman archaeology. Or does it? I decided to do some statitics to get a better idea of what sort of geographical coverage was represented in the conference papers. In my programme, I counted 62 papers, nine of which do not specify a region of particular interest in their abstract (grouped below as ‘thematic/methodological’ and included for comparison). Here’s a chart to illustrate what I found out about the geographical interests of TRAC-goers:

We see clearly that papers on Roman Britain dominate (15 papers or 22% of the conference total of 62). The Dutch were on ‘home turf’ and the Roman-period archaeology of the Netherlands (and neighbouring areas of Germany) is well represented by 11 papers (17% of the conference total). Italy and the city of Rome were also well-covered (11 papers, or 16%). Interest in Western provinces such as Gaul and Iberia is apparent as well (5 papers, 8%). Two papers discussed North Africa (3%).

The eastern Mediterranean attracted considerably less interest: The Near East was covered by 4 papers (6%), whereas small numbers of papers dealt with Egypt (3, or 5%) and Dacia (3). Only one paper (2%) discussed Roman Greece. I did not register any paper that dealt spefically with Asia Minor!

Is this worrying? Are archaeologists working with the eastern Mediterranean less interested in theory? Or does it simply reflect the history of TRAC as being predominantly UK-based and exclusively anglophone (see also the recent discussion of English as the ‘universal’ research language in archaeology in Archaeologies, the WAC journal)?

More than one answer may be valid but what I find important here is in the interest of all Roman archaeologists, namely that TRAC should actively try to shed its image as a conference of almost exclusively the provincial archaeology of the Roman West (and especially the Northwest). TRAC is a great forum, but there’s always room for improvement. What I’d like to see is a ‘Mediterranization’ of TRAC that includes empirical perspectives from both East and West, and always maintains a firm focus on the Roman world as an integrated unit, not split into modern nationstates and languages.

Late Antique Archaeology 2008: A Recap 19 March 2008

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I was in London on Saturday for the 2008 meeting of Late Antique Archaeology. The theme of this year’s conference was “Recent Fieldwork in Urban Archaeology” and papers were presented on Noviodunum (Romania), Boeotia, Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Sagalassos, Ostia, Delphi, Apamea (Syria), Canterbury and Istanbul.

Apollontemplet i Delfi
The Temple of Apollo, Delphi. The temple was repaired after a 3rd century fire and still stood in late antiquity at the top of the Sacred Way. As an empty ruin? Perhaps even as a monument to the Christian victory over pagan cult? Either way, it appears never to have been converted for Christian use. Photo: TMK, March 2007.

The first speaker was Kris Lockyear of UCL who presented his team’s work at the fortified town of Noviodunum in Romania. The site is multi-period and characterized by extreme erosion, in large part due to over-farming during the Communist era. In its initial phase the Noviodunum project has focused on survey, both within the site itself and in its hinterland. It is now moving into an excavation phase and it’s hoped that this will provide a better understanding of the site’s chronology and development.

Next, John Bintliff from Leiden discussed the late antique development of three towns (Tanagra, Thespiae and Koroneia) that have been explored through non-invasive field survey over some 30 years in the region of Boeotia in Greece. The ‘geophys’ (to use the jargon of survey archaeologists) for Tanagra, explored by Bintliff and colleagues since 2000, is absolutely amazing and one of those text-book cases of the viability of the method in field archaeology. It clearly shows a Hippodamian city grid plan that was still largely intact in the 4th century AD. However, sometime in late antiquity, a large basilica church was constructed in the agora. The accompanying ‘pick up’ survey at Tanagra has almost entirely produced late antique ‘transport amphorae’, suggesting that the site had a rather one-sided nature at the time. Alternatively, it may say something important about the interpretative shortcomings of archaeological taxonomies….

Charlotte Roueché of KCL, host of this year’s conference, presented an introduction to her epigraphic survey at Aphrodisias and Ephesus. Her extremely important work is aimed at putting epigraphy, often published without any topographic information in the past, into its archaeological context. This approach was also the background to the 2007 online edition of Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity. She made a plea to study seriously (and publish!) the graffiti and other markings found at so many archaeological sites and too frequently ignored by epigraphists. Finally, she reminded everyone of the difficulty of working with material from old excavations and the sometimes haphazard nature of the production of archaeological knowledge. The main reason to undertake excavations of streets in Ephesus such as the Embolos was thus to provide easier access for tourists between the site’s major attractions… (more…)

Upcoming Talks 18 February 2008

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Here’s a list of the talks that I’ll be doing this semester. The majority of them will present aspects of my dissertation research on Christian responses to images in late antique Egypt.

Tuesday 4 March
“Billedstrid og billedstormere i det senantikke Ægypten” (“Iconoclasm and Bildstürmer in Late Antique Egypt”)
Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, University of Stockholm, 4 pm

Thursday 13 March
“Iconoclasm, Forgetting, and the Life Histories of Roman Statues”
Part of the eminar “Constructing Memory – Remembrance and oblivion in times of transition”, University of Copenhagen (see my previous post).

Saturday 5 April
“Destruction as Devotion: The Materiality of Sacred Places in Roman and Late Antique Egypt” at the 18th Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Amsterdam

Thursday 10 April
Public lecture for Dansk Ægyptologisk Selskab (Danish Egyptological Society):
“Om idoler og dæmoner. Billedernes magt i det senantikke Ægypten” (“Of Idols and Demons. The Power of Images in Late Antique Egypt”)
Museum of Ancient Art, University of Aarhus, 7 pm

Constructions of Memory 25 January 2008

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Here’s the programme for a really cool seminar in March that I’ll take part in: “Erindringskonstruktioner – Erindring og glemsel i overgangsperioder” (“Constructions of Memory – Memory and Forgetting in Periods of Transformation”), hosted by the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for the Study of the Cultural Heritage of Medieval Rituals at the University of Copenhagen: (more…)

Why my suitcase weighed 36 kilos… 16 January 2008

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With the US dollar being so incredibly low, this is a great time to shop pretty much anything in America. So, the following is what I brought home with me from the AIA book fair as well as a number of book shops (the Oriental Institute Suq, a Chicago Borders, the Met Bookstore and the Brooklyn Museum store). The books are here divided into three categories in a list that may be of little (if any) interest to anyone besides myself…Perhaps I’ll get a more interesting post on AIA up in a couple of days or so.

I tried to focus the majority of my purchases on books on Egypt. So at the AIA book fair, I got “Sacred Space and Sacred Function in Ancient Thebes” edited by Peter Dorman & Besty Bryan (2007), and “Life in Egypt under Roman Rule” by Naphtali Lewis (1986, 1999 reprint). One new and one classic – a good start.

Also in Chicago, but at the Oriental Institute Museum, I bought these: “Egypt after the Pharaohs” by Alan Bowman (rev. 1996, orig. 1986), “Women of Jeme. Lives in a Coptic Town in Late Antique Egypt” by Terry Wilfong (2002), and “The Tomb-Builders of the Pharaohs” by Morris Bierbrier (1982, 1997 reprint), a little classic on Deir el-Medina.

At the Brooklyn Museum, I bought a catalogue of their Egyptian collection that features several interesting works: “Art for Eternity. Masterworks from Ancient Egypt” (1999). In the Metropolitan Museum Bookstore, I got “The Art of Death in Graeco-Roman Egypt” by Judith Corbelli (2006), and “Gifts for the Gods. Images from Egyptian Temples” edited by Marsha Hill (2007).

Late Antiquity
Of course, I also bought a couple of books on late antiquity: “A Greek Roman Empire. Power and Belief under Theodosius II” by Fergus Millar (2006, pb 2007), “Early Christianity” by Mark Humphries (2006), “Encountering the Sacred. The Debate on Christian Pilgrimage in Late Antiquity” by Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony (2005), and “Qusayr ‘Amra. Art and the Umayyad Elite in Late Antique Syria” by Garth Fowden (2005).

Theory and General Archaeology & Art
On Sunday, Duckworth were doing half price on their titles at the AIA book fair, so I had to buy a couple of those still available: “Social Evolution” by Mark Pluciennik (2005), and “The Roman Countryside” by Stephen Dyson (2006).

I also got “The Sacred Gaze. Religious Visual Culture in Theory and Practice” by David Morgan (2005), “Monuments and Memory, Made and Unmade” edited by Robert S. Nelson & Margaret Olin (2003), “Rome and Jerusalem. The Clash of Ancient Civilizations” by Martin Goodman (2007), “Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day” by Philip Matyszak (2007), a fun little Lonely Planet-style guide to the city of Rome, as well as “Contemporary Art. A Very Short Introduction” by Julian Stallabrass (2006).

A grand total of 20 books. Which goes some way in explaining why my suitcase weighed 36 kilos on the flight back to Europe!

AIA 2008: Where To Go? 21 December 2007

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The 109th Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America is coming up first thing in the new year. The location of this year’s meeting is Chicago….I hope it won’t be too cold! The reflections from my very first visit to the AIA Annual Meetings (Montreal 2006) were printed in the European Journal of Archaeology this year (vol. 8.3, see also here, here, and here). Last year (San Diego 2007), I only got round to blogging about the first day of the meeting…That doesn’t stop me from posting a brief list of what sessions I would like to attend this year.

On Friday morning, I would like to see papers in the sessions 1I “Myth on Roman Sarcophagi” and 1B “Rome in the Provinces.” I’ll also want to briefly join session 1C “Interpreting Funerary Contexts“, where my friend Konstantin Kitsais-Jørgensen is presenting on “The Urban Necropolis of Rhodes: The Monumental Tombs and Burial Plots of the Private Associations during the Hellenistic Period.” On Friday afternoon, I hope to catch papers in session 2A “The Post Roman World“, 2D “Topography of Rome“, 2G “Embodiment and Remembrance in a Mortuary Context“, and 2I “Materials and Production in the Roman World“. It would also be good to see another presentation by a friend, Søren Handberg, on “Ceramic Workshops, Agoranomoi, and Pottery Trade in Olbia Pontica” in session 2B “Greek Vase Painting“. A bit too much for an afternoon, I know…

On Saturday morning, I will be co-chairing and presenting in session 3I “Approaches to Workshops in Roman Art“, where members of the Aarhus late antiquity project as well as Martin Henig from Oxford will give papers on various aspects of their work. On Saturday afternoon, papers in these sessions look appealing: 4C “Pompeii and Ostia“, 4G “Roman Sculpture“, and 4H “Cultural Identity and the Peoples of the Ancient Mediterranean“.

Then, on Sunday morning, I hope to see sessions 5C “Corinthian Horizons: Space, Society, and the Sacred in Ancient Corinth” and 5I “Web-Based Research Tools for Mediterranean Archaeology.” And lastly, on Sunday afternoon, the following looks interesting: 6B “Villas and Villa Life“, 6D “Agency and the Individual: Exploring Women in the Material Recording of the Roman World“, and 6G “Up from the Ashes: Creativity and Conservatism in Rebuilding after Disasters.”

The Art of Destruction: Programme 23 November 2007

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We’ve just finalized the programme for our seminar “The Art of Destruction: Phenomenology, Fragmentation and Material Culture“, to be held 6-7 December here in Aarhus. Have a look below the fold, if you’re interested! (more…)