Ancient Worlds seminar 2010
The study of the ancient worlds of the Mediterranean and Near East is often undertaken in fragments, also at Leiden University. The Ancient Worlds Seminar tries to overcome all these artificial divides by providing a forum for all those studying the Ancient Worlds, in its broadest meaning, in Leiden.
- 16 February 2010: Marlis Arnhold, University of Erfurt
- 2 March 2010: Tatiana Ivleva, Faculty of Archaeology Leiden
- 16 March 2010: Mirjam Hoijtink, University of Amsterdam
- 30 March 2010: Bleda Düring, Faculty of Archaeology
- 13 April 2010: Dr. Ben Haring, Leiden University, Egyptology
- 11 May 2010: Jorrit Kelder - VU University Amsterdam
- 28 September 2010: Martin Fink, M.A. (Cairo)
- 12 October 2010: Prof. dr. H.J. de Haan
- 9 November 2010: Sofie Remijsen
- 16 November 2010: Jesper Eidem
- 7 December 2010: Jürgen Zangenberg, Faculty of Archaeology
Religion and religious practice as means of self-fashioning in 3rd and 4th-century AD Rome
Fourth century Rome experienced many religious controversies. The so-called 'Constantinian turn', and the debate between Arianism and Donatism, as well as Julian's 'pagan revival' are only the most important ones. The century's religious conflicts reveal the close ties that existed between religious, political and social order.
The lecture aims to shed new light on the relationship between religion and religious practice, as well as self-fashioning and self-display. Central to the discussion will be questions concerned with how cults beyond 'Christianities' have been appropriated within the context of religious conflict.
The paper will look closely at long-term processes related to the social levelling of society and the formation of communities. This will allow us to closer examine the religious controversies and reveal them as social processes with their ups and downs, and as historical processes rooted in the 3rd century AD.
British Emigrants: Mobility of ‘Britons’ from the island to the Continent in the Roman Empire
The epigraphic record from the period of the Roman Empire contains evidence of the existence of ‘British’ emigrants on the Continent. These inscribed stones and military diplomas found throughout the Roman Empire offer an unrivalled source of information about the ‘Britons’ who immigrated. However, not only epigraphy can shed the light on the mobility of the ‘Britons’. Archaeological record also gives the opportunity to find the places on the Continent where ‘British’ emigrants, civilians or army veterans, settled down/ The paper explores the forced and voluntary immigration of ‘Britons’ to the Continent. It seeks to answer the following questions: is it possible to determine British emigrants, and if so, can we talk about ‘British’ emigrant community? How they maintained or transmitted their identities? Did they emphasize pan-tribal, that of British, or regional, that of Icenii, Cantiacii, etc., identities? The intention of this paper is also to emphasize that the combination of both epigraphical and archaeological record can help the scholars to map migration routes of any peoples in the Roman Empire and to understand choices made by the emigrants when they expressed their identities. In particular, this paper supposes that the locations of the British brooches on the Continent can be connected with the presence of the British emigrants there. Analysis of the export of British material leads to the consideration that the brooches arrived initially not as trade items but were brought there by emigrants who wished to express their difference.
Caspar Reuvens and his Universal Museum of Antiquities in Leiden
A comparative study of museums of antiquities in Europe (1800-1840) points out that in its pioneering years, the Archaeological Cabinet of the Leiden university, can not be compared with other university museums. The collection policy, merely financed by King William I of the short-lived United Kingdom of the Netherlands, rivalled in its ambition with similar and under royal patronage developed institutes in Turin, Rome, London, Paris and Berlin.
The decision to choose the internationally educated Caspar Reuvens (1793-1835) for the post of professor in archaeology and keeper of the cabinet in 1818 was well-considered and strategically worked out by the leading advisors of the king: all representatives of a neo-humanistic national ideology.
As a member of the leading scientific societies in Europe and as an author of a wide range of scholarly publications, Reuvens was one of the main figures in a leading network of Altertumswissenschaftler, Antiquaires, Antiquarians and philologists. His drawings of a Universal Museum of Antiquities are to be explained as an expression of contemporary historiography. Due to a dramatic change of focus in this field in the first four decades of the 19th century from a ´Universal´ to an ´Individual´ history (also the nation as an individual), the arrangements Reuvens made in his sketches were no longer understood in the second part of the 19th century.
The Second Neolithic Revolution in Asia Minor: Evaluating Possible Causes
Around 6500 cal BC a decisive development took place in Anatolia that was to have lasting repercussions far beyond the peninsula: it consists of the expansion of the Neolithic way of life beyond the steppe environments of southern Central Anatolia and the Fertile Crescent, and a spread towards western Asia Minor and the Balkans. Despite the enormous importance of this ‘event’ there has been little debate about what caused it. In this paper I will consider various elements that might have played a role, such as climate change, demography, and agricultural and social changes in a contribution towards the better understanding of this "second Neolithic Revolution".
The Palaeography of Egyptian Hieroglyphs
Palaeographic analysis of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs is rare when compared to the study of cursive scripts (hieratic and demotic). Yet it becomes an important branch of Egyptology once its full potential is realised. Hieroglyphic palaeography reveals chronological and regional variation in a script that is usually regarded as highly standardised. Individual hieroglyphs all have their own little histories of graphic and semiotic development. In addition, different localities have different traditions, preferences and knowledge. Being handmade, no two specimens of the same sign are literally identical, not even within a single inscription. The further such specimens are removed from each other in time and place, the more differences can be observed. But careful palaeographic analysis may bring us even further than the mere observation of historical and regional variation: it brings us closer to the organisation and psychology of the makers of hieroglyphic texts.
The Egypty-Mycenae Connection
Connections between Egypt and the Mycenaean world have often been understood in terms of indirect exchange, via middlemen on Cyprus and in the Levant. This view is mainly informed by the relative paucity of Mycenaean pottery found in Egypt, especially when compared to the large amounts of Mycenaean pottery found on Cyprus and the Levant. In this lecture, it will be argued that connections between Egypt and Mycenae were of direct, diplomatic nature and that various different missions can be identified over the course of the 15th to 13th centuries BC. Moreoever, it is argued that, as a result of these connections, Mycenaeans may well have settled in the land of the Nile -serving the Pharaoh in different capacities. To that purpose, a range of archaeological, iconographical and textual evidence coming both from Egypt and the Mycenaean world will be presented.
Roman Syene as outpost of western culture or last blossom of Egyptian religion? The terracottas from Aswan
Since 2000 the Swiss Institute of Architectural and Archaeological Research on Ancient Egypt is excavating the archaeological remains of ancient Syene (modern Aswan). During these excavations over 300 fragments of terracotta figurines of the Greco-Roman period have been discovered. For the first time it became possible to study a group of clay figurines from a closed context in Egypt. The result shows a development in motive, style and technique over the centuries from the age of the Ptolemies to late antiquity. Whereas the earliest figurines are either clearly attached to the ancient Egyptian culture or are imports with a Greek background, the local artisans soon imitated these motifs but also created a new set of visual concepts influenced by both traditions. The development not only reflects the religious and cultural background of the changing rulers, but also the ‘local’ ideologies of the inhabitants of the small border town. The material evidence underlines the fact that Syene in Greco-Roman time is not only the small, insignificant neighbour of Elefantine but a complex urban system with an independent religious background, dominated by Isis, the “mistress of Syene”.
For the study of the technical aspects a system of clay fabrics was applied, which is strongly influenced by similar attempts in the study of ceramics. Besides from the few imports two main types of clay with a considerable number of subfabrics could be individuated. The Nile Clay, which is mainly used in Hellenistic age is increasingly being replaced by the local “Pink Clay” in Roman times.
The construction of the Egyptian Pyramids Archaeological and technical aspects
Much has been written about the development of Pyramid building and its role in Egyptian History. However, a thorough review of this literature showed that in non of the many publications is the coherence of the various operations needed for the construction of the Pyramids treated in a systematic manner, evidently resulting in invalid results.
This lecture will focus on the largest Pyramid, built by Khufu. An important aspect is the surprisingly fast (yet not steady) construction rate, of 2.6 million m3 of limestone in about 20 years, an average of approximately 50 m3 per hour or one block of 1 m3 per minute. This means that the production of building materials and other subsequent work needed to be carefully customized to avoid any delays. In addition, a flexible allocation of the labour among the different building activities was needed.
Archaeologists still disagree about the applied construction method. Evidence from drawings and reliefs suggests that Egyptian builders were equipped with ropes and levers, and used ramps during the construction of other buildings.
It is possible to incorporate all these aspects in a mathematical model. It compares three different construction methods, namely methods that use a straight slope, a spiral shaped ramp and levers. Using certain basic data, the model makes it possible to determine the most likely building method used and to get an estimate of the labour needed. The findings of this research show that the size of the project and the organizational skills required were remarkable.
The end of the ancient Olympics and the domino-effect
The ancient Olympics are one of the most widely known aspects of ancient culture. Every four years, when the modern Olympics are held, the interest is renewed and new books are published with yet again summaries of Olympia in its heyday. Such works usually treat only very briefly how the iconic festival came to its end: the contest remained popular until the mid-third century, after which it declined sharply and was eventually abolished in either 393 or 426 by an anti-pagan law of Theodosius I or II. In the academic world, however, there has been in the last two decades a renewed interest in the final phase of the games, with the discovery of late antique finds during new excavations and reappraisals of long known evidence. The idea of an imperial abolition about AD 400 is no longer accepted and the old insistence on all possible factors leading to decline (moral aberrations, barbarian invasions, Christianity, economic crisis) has been replaced by an openness to possible continuity of the games in the fifth century. What is still lacking in this discussion is a broader perspective. Although the Olympics were the symbolic number one contest throughout Antiquity, they were only a part of a large circuit of hundreds of similar contests. The success of each contest on this circuit depended on that of the others, and an explication for the end of the Olympics should therefore not be detached from the general desintegration of this circuit.
Texts and Archaeology: The Mesopotamian Interphase
In the Mesopotamian context the majority of texts, i.e. clay tablets, themselves constitute part of the archaeological record, being excavated with other objects. A first observation, which stresses the sometimes difficult relationship between archaeology and philology, is the fact that often the tablets have been considered "apart" from the archaeological record, as text-matter. Obviously, however, the tablets are themselves also objects and considering them thus, they render new data, apart from the inscribed text. Through this and other examples the lecture will discuss various aspects of the interphase between texts and archaeology, mostly drawn from the lecturer's own experience and research projects, and hence from Iraqi and Syrian contexts.
Farmers, Rabbis, Fishermen. European Excavations on Horvat Kur in Galilee
Despite of a lot of work in recent years, rural Galilee is still very much terra incognita. The Kinneret Regional Project (www.kinneret-excavations.org) wants to contribute to the ongoing dabate about the structure of villages and their relationship with the surrounding landscape in this small, but important region of the Eastern Mediterranean. After two preliminary campaigns, the first systematic season has produced significant results: a synagogue and parts of domestic architecture from the Byzantine period. More is to follow in 2011!