Brown Bag Talks for Fall 2015

Brown BagTalks are held
Thursdays from 12:00-1:00 PM
Rhode Island Hall, Room 108
Brown University, 60 George Street, Providence, RI

Please note that we are still adding to our schedule, and these dates are not yet finalized.

October 1, 2015:
Nicholas Carter (Haffenreffer Museum, Brown University)
Hinterland History and Hierarchy: The Transformation of a Late Classic Maya Landscape

October 8, 2015:
Douglas Armstrong (Syracuse University)
Small Farm to Large Scale Plantation: The Shift to Capitalism and Slavery in Barbados… and a Preliminary Look at “The Cave of Iron”

October 15, 2015:
Parker VanValkenburgh (Anthropology, Brown University)
El Contrato del Mar: Forced Resettlement and Maritime Subsistence at Carrizales, Zaña Valley, Peru

October 22, 2015:
Tate Paulette (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
“Not to Know Beer Is Not Normal”: The Archaeological Invisibility of Beer and Brewing in Bronze Age Mesopotamia

October 29, 2015:
Ian Randall (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
A Connected Insularity: Conceptualizing Byzantium’s Island Frontiers

November 19, 2015:
Margaret Andrews (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
The Construction of Commemorative Landscapes in Rome’s Subura during the Imperial and Christian Periods

December 3, 2015:
Jen Thum (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
“Ramesses was Here”: Royal Rock Inscriptions at the Ends of the Egyptian World

Brown Bag Talks for Spring 2015

Brown BagTalks are held
Thursdays from 12:00-1:00 PM
Rhode Island Hall, Room 108
Brown University, 60 George Street, Providence, RI

Please note that we are still adding to our schedule, and these dates are not yet finalized.

February 12, 2015:
Andrew Dufton (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
How Do You Solve a Problem Like the City?

February 19, 2015:
Kathryn Howley (Egyptology & Assyriology, Brown University)
Foreign Exchange: The Role of Egyptian Material Culture in Middle Napatan Nubia

February 26, 2015:
Sarah Newman (Anthropology, Brown University)
Sharks in the Jungle: Real and Imagined Sea Monsters of the Maya

March 5, 2015:
Martin Furholt (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany)
Changing Materialities and the Mobilization of Social Practices: The Expansion of the Neolithic Out of Anatolia

March 12, 2015:
Kathryn McBride (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Extreme Hoarders: Coin Hoards and Entangled Practices in Roman Scotland

March 19, 2015:
Alexander Smith (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Indigeneity and Colonial Response: The Metamorphoses of Balearic Culture in the Late Iron Age

April 9, 2015:
Clive Vella (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Against Change: The Central Mediterranean, Desired Stability, and the Never-Ending Pursuit

April 16, 2015:
Mireia López-Bertran (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)
Bodies, Jars and Figurines of the Punic Mediterranean

April 23, 2015:
Tamara Chin (Comparative Literature, Brown University)
Afterlife Economies: Archaeological and Literary Contexts of Money in Early China

Brown Bag Talks for Fall 2014

Brown BagTalks are held
Thursdays from 12:00-1:00 PM
Rhode Island Hall, Room 108
Brown University, 60 George Street, Providence, RI

Please note that we are still adding to our schedule, and these dates are not yet finalized.

September 25, 2014:
Miriam Müller  (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Ancestor Cults and Household Identity at Tell el-Dab’a, Avaris

October 9, 2014:
Brett Kaufman (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Politics, Prayer, and Pollution at the Neo-Punic Urban Mound of Zita, Southern Tunisia

October 16, 2014:
James Osborne (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Return to Mesopotamia: The Iron Age Diaspora and the Erbil Plain Archaeological Survey

October 23, 2014:
Matthew Reilly (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Race on the Caribbean Plantation: Archaeology and the “Redlegs” of Barbados

October 30, 2014:
Anne Hunnell Chen (History of Art and Architecture, Brown University)
New Directions at the Late Antique Palace ‘Felix Romuliana’

November 6, 2014:
Mihalis Kavouriaris (The Ikarian Centre)
A Modern Greek Course for Archaeologists on the Island of Ikaria

November 13, 2014:
Patricia McAnany (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Beyond Colonial Churches: Community Archaeology at Tahcabo, Yucatán

November 20, 2014:
Hallie Meredith (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)
Engaging Objects: Openwork Vessels and Gold-Glass from the Late Roman Period

The Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque-University of Fez by Zakaria Enzminger

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Buildings within a human context can have multiple functions. These constructions can be viewed as statements of power, authority, wealth or timelessness of individuals or institutions. However, it is also necessary to acknowledge the practical aspects of the building in its common or private usage, as well as the statement it makes about the people to whom it applies. In our studies on the growing and developing urban character of the various Islamic empires, the mosque as a necessary addition to preexisting settlements or a central feature of newly established urban centers has been  at the fore. It functioned as a place of gathering for believers to fulfill their religious obligations, as a medium for rulers to address and reinforce their relation to their subjects, as well as a statement of the dominance of Islam as the official religion. For the purpose of this inquiry, I will be looking at the Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque and Madrasa of Fez as an expression of the origins of the city of Fez, and as the center of scholastic Islam for centuries to come, attracting scholars and students from across the Mediterranean.

Continue reading The Al-Qarawiyyin Mosque-University of Fez by Zakaria Enzminger

Quasyr ‘Amra and the Umayyad bathhouse (Jordan) by Ian Randall

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In the dusty Balqa region of eastern Jordan there sits a modest structure of roughly hewn stone, set until the early part of the 20th century amidst a charming grove of terebinth and pistachio trees. Now starkly surrounded by gravel, dust, and a visitor’s center, the building appears unusual unless you are familiar with the type (Figures 1 & 2). It consists of a large hall, some fourteen by ten and a half meters, capped by three longitudinal barrel vaults (Figure 3 & 4). Directly off this hall at a right angle are three more, significantly smaller rooms, with an additional room beyond the last, only accessible from the outside. The second and third rooms beyond the hall have deep depressions in their floors.  Beyond its construction, which is clearly designed for a specific purpose, the feature of this building that has attracted the attention of scholars, from its first discovery for the West by the colorful adventurer/academic Alois Musil in 1896, is its vibrant wall paintings, 450 m2 of dancers, entertainers, mythological scenes, hunters, builders, naked women, and kings (Figures 5, 6, & 7).

Continue reading Quasyr ‘Amra and the Umayyad bathhouse (Jordan) by Ian Randall

Madina al-Zahra (Spain) by Serena Alwani

The palace-city of Madina al-Zahra in Spain was built in 936 CE under the Caliph ‘Abd al-Rahman III in a hillside at the base of the Sierra Morena. This location, some distance from Cordoba in a lush and well-watered landscape, lends to the complex being functionally more diverse and self-sufficient than its predecessors. Though excavations at the site began in 1910, still only about 10 percent has been properly explored. It is a significant site as one of few royal palace-cities that were not built over in later years (Ruggles 2002 pp. 53).

Continue reading Madina al-Zahra (Spain) by Serena Alwani

Hagia Sophia by Zohra Kalani


The Hagia Sophia is by far one of the most astounding beacons of art and architecture in history. Its walls have seen the reigns of some of the strongest empires of the past, and this rich political and religious history resonates to this day. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum, the Hagia Sophia has been a precious gem in the world of architecture. Located in modern-day Istanbul, it is situated at the crossroads of two powerful empires, the Byzantines and the Ottomans. It is the grand representation of two great faiths, and now serves a secular purpose in educating its visitors about the rich history it contains.

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Mapping across time and space Project #3 Uluburun Shipwreck

Group #3: Uluburun Shipwreck

(Emile Bautista, Gabrielle Hick, Thomas Pettengill, Todd Stewart, Guo Wang)

Please click here to see the TimeMapper visualization of the Uluburun Shipwreck

The Uluburun Shipwreck was an ancient ship discovered close to the east shore of Uluburun and was, in its time, the deepest shipwreck to be completely excavated by underwater archaeologists. The wreck contained a significant cargo of trading goods, many of which originated from thousands of miles away. The ship was most likely sailing from a Levantine port, carrying Canaanite merchants to a Mycenaean emporium, when it sank off the coast of southern Turkey around 1305 BCE. The bulk of the items found were trade goods purchased or obtained along the Levantine coast, with the rest of the cargo most likely consisting of personal belongings of the crew and passengers. The most significant portion of the cargo was copper ore and ingots from Cyprus. The trade goods varied in both quality and kind, ranging from luxury items like Canaanite gold jewelry to jars of incense. Although the origins of the items found at the Uluburun shipwreck covered a geographical range as far west as Romania and as far east as Afghanistan, the majority of the trade goods were traced back to the Levantine coast, which was controlled by the Egyptian and Hittite Empires during this time. The bulk of the goods on board – the copper ingots and ore – originated from the island of Cyprus, which at this time had a Mycenaean presence but was independent of any large empire. Other commodities included Egyptian ebony, 2,000 pounds of terebinth resin stored in Canaanite jars, and almost 200 coloured disc-shaped glass ingots from the northern Levantine coast.

While it is inferred from the personal possessions found on board that the crew and ship were either from Canaan or Cyprus, certain personal items seem to indicate that two crewmembers were Mycenaean. A number of weights were also discovered in the wreckage, and considering merchants traditionally owned a personal set of weights, it may be argued that the seemingly out of place Mycenaeans were travelling merchants. However, the lack of any Aegean weights further proves that the Mycenaeans on board were not merchants, and therefore were most likely crewmembers. The stone sceptre head found, whose closest parallel was discovered in modern day Bulgaria, helps to connect this ship and its trading endeavors to the lands north of Greece. Additionally, the tin ore found, mined in Afghanistan, indicates trading relationships between the eastern Mediterranean world and Asian tribes almost as far east as the Himalayas. Therefore, the excavated artifacts prove that the Levantine coast and Cyprus would have served as centres of major international trade, connecting not only the two major powers of the Hittite and Egyptian Empire, but also the Mycenaean culture and those tribes as far inland as Afghanistan.

While international trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, to an extent, centred on the Mycenaean culture and the Hittite and Egyptian Empires, this was in the context of a larger web of international trade which, as previously suggested, involved trading powers as far east as Afghanistan and as far west as Romania. While none of these international powers directly controlled Cyprus, the island served as a major source for material resources like copper, and more importantly, was a strategically important centre for trade. It has been postulated that the Uluburun ship had even set sail from Cyprus, which would make sense given the vast amount of copper found on board. By sourcing the origins of all the items found in the Uluburun Shipwreck, a detailed picture of international trade during the Late Bronze Age can be painted. The Uluburun Shipwreck proves a significant archaeological find; the historical information archaeologists may ascertain from the wreckage more precious than any copper ingots.

The TimeMapper program was extremely useful for visualizing the connections between trading powers in the Late Bronze Age. It allowed for the mapping of the shipwreck’s contents, as well as where and when they were from, creating a map that simplifies the trade networks.

Mapping across time and space Project #2 Doric Temples

Group #2: Doric Temples

(Aubree Moore, Liam Casey, Alexandra DeFrancesco, Sophie Cohen, and Grace Cinderella)

Please click here to see the TimeMapper visualization of Doric Temples

In this project, our group was responsible for mapping the location of Doric temples built by ancient Greek cultures, as well as determining the timeframe in which these temples were built. We discovered that contrary to what is commonly believed, Athens was not the main location in which Doric temples were found. Many of the earliest Doric temples were actually located in regions outside of Athens, with some appearing as far away as Sicily. The Temple of Apollo at Thermon and Temple of Hera at Pasteum demonstrate how some cities outside of Athens served as leading forces of artistic expression and monument building beginning in the Archaic period.

The Archaic Temple of Apollo at Thermon served as a prime example of an Ancient Greek Doric temple. Multicolored ceramic metopes decorated with mythical scenes, such as Perseus grasping the head of Medusa and a hunter thought to represent Heracles, adorned the top of the temple, signifying the universal prevalence of mythological figures in Ancient Greek cult.[1] The metopes at Thermon are the earliest known remnants of this art form, which appeared in many other Doric temples as a component of the frieze — demonstrating the influence that this temple presumably had on other Greek Doric temples across the Eastern Mediterranean.[2] The temple also later served as a location for the assembly of Aetolian League and was therefore an important center of political activity within Thermon, the focal point of political and religious activity within Aetolia.[3] The Temple of Apollo at Thermon indicates the significance of Doric temples located outside of Athens, perhaps even suggesting that this temple, and others of this period, may have influenced the monumental temples of Athens – Athens may not have been the first to represent the designs we have come to know as Doric.

The Temple of Hera at Pestaeum was one of the most interesting temples of the Doric style and the development of that style. The temple contains some characteristics that are not commonly seen in Doric temples such as a different method of spacing the columns on the front and the incorporation of Ionic characteristics. The temple was also one of the first sites to have certain features which later became common to the Doric style: the entasis and the use of interaxial measurement as the basis for the measurement of the whole temple. [4] The Temple of Hera at Pestaeum serves as a powerful example of the artistic development of the Doric style that took place outside of Athens. Many of the features used in the temple were incorporated into later Doric temples and it is clear that many later architects took inspiration directly from the temples design. Much like the Temple of Apollo at Thermon, the Temple of Hera at Pasteum also indicates the significance of the Doric style and monumental architecture outside of Athens and reinforces the notion that Athens was not the original and only developer of the Doric style.

Although our time-mapper project mainly focuses regions other than Athens, it is important to consider Athens in the discussion of Doric temples. Looking at one, if not the most, famous temple the Parthenon in Athens, modern scholars as well as the general public are constantly reminded of this architectural style. That being said, the temples mentioned our time map highlight that these temples, although less known, are equally as important in the discussion of Doric style and should not be overlooked.

[1] James Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 160; J.H. Croon, “Artemis Thermia and Apollo Thermios (With an Excursus on the Oetean Heracles-Cult),” Mnemosyne 9, no. 3 (1956): 206.

[2] R. M. Cook, “The Archetypal Doric Temple,” The Annual of the British School at Athens 65 (1970): 17-18.

[3] Whitley, 160; Croon, “Artemis Thermia and Apollo Thermios (With an Excursus on the Oetean Heracles-Cult),” 205.

[4] Symeonoglou, Sarantis . “The Doric Temples of Paestum.” Journal of Aesthetic Education. no. 1 (1985): 49-66. (accessed March 31, 2014).