State of the Field 2023: Abstracts

 State of the Field 2023 Home | Full Program  |  Speakers


Leah Bernardo Ciddio (Michigan)
“From Its Depths: Archaeology and Colonialism through the Adriatic Mirror”

This paper explores the silences and gaps of Adriatic archaeology and situates them in an historiographic context. I incorporate inquiry into the Venetian “flavour” of the Adriatic (as remarked upon by Braudel), identify both Venetian and Roman legacies as underpinning Liberal and Fascist Italian claims to the Adriatic space, and demonstrate that those legacies are less frequently extended into the South Adriatic for multiple colonial and postcolonial reasons.

Archaeology played a prominent role in Italian colonial expansion in East/ North Africa before and during the Fascist period. Less discussed, however, is the catalyzing role of archaeology in Italy’s relationship of domination over the Western Balkans. The events of the later 20th century give much material for ongoing discourses on national(ist) historiographies. There is, however, a relative lack of discourse that bridges the intervening sea to elaborate on how “Adriatic archaeology” has developed without taking a necessary step of collective, transnational self-reflexivity. I argue that the archaeological narratives that underpinned Italy’s domination of other Adriatic territories and nations continue to affect archaeological research and practice today in the Adriatic sphere today. After World War II, the adoption of the term “Adriatic koine was presented as a neutral descriptor of interaction in the ancient Adriatic, one that did not position any one group as dominating another. Yet the koine narrative, frequently used today, is not without flaw nor does it adequately acknowledge ongoing disparities in the realms of archaeology or cultural heritage, which often fail to engage Adriatic peoples equitably – a failure further exacerbated by the fact that some Adriatic countries are EU members while others are not, and some Adriatic countries are still viewed through an Orientalist lens while others are branded (internally and from without) as passably more “western” or “European”, an image reinforced in the spheres of heritage and tourism.  As multiple, often EU-funded cultural projects celebrate shared heritage amongst other “Adriatic brethren”, this is typically an incomplete exercise, wherein Albanians are less frequently offered a seat at the Adriatic table despite their modern engagement with and across the Adriatic, as recent migrants to/ a new diaspora in Italy.

Stephen Collins-Elliott (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
The Sisyphean Bind of Romanization: Post-Colonial Approaches, Cultural Essentialism, and Grand Narratives in Roman Archaeology

The field of Roman archaeology is no stranger to post-colonial approaches. Since the 1970s, colonialist narratives of acculturation or assimilation on the part of the conquered in favor of a Roman identity have frequently been rejected, with many alternative theories of cultural change proposed in their wake. However, this older colonial model (albeit somewhat modified) persists. In introductory textbooks on ancient Roman archaeology and art available in the United States, the narratives presented frequently promote the status quo of the older colonialist model, wherein ancient Roman culture, via art, architecture, and artifact assemblages, is exported to the world. A certain problem then emerges, in which the attempt to overcome the grand narrative of “Romanization” becomes a Sisyphean task. By the very act of criticizing a colonial model of cultural change, its discourse is perpetuated, since one cannot engage in its critiques without first having been taught it as a core, default narrative of the field.

Here, I argue that the root of this dynamic lies in the very disciplinary definition of Roman archaeology itself. For, the implicit assumption of cultural essentialism continues to embody current approaches to archaeology in the Mediterranean, encoding objects and styles a priori with an ethnic identity. Therein also arises the failure of alternative theories to provide new grand narratives that are compelling and accessible to a general undergraduate audience, one who, far from having a background on post-colonialism and sociological or anthropological models of human interaction, may not even have a preconceived notion of what the Roman empire is and how it is manifested in the ancient Mediterranean. Finally, I outline pedagogical strategies to reframe Roman archaeology as a study of the relationship more generally between cultural change and empire in the ancient world, above all in non-essentialized terms.

Ana Delgado Hervás (Universitat Pompeu  Fabra)  and Mateo González Vázquez (Universität Trier)
Uncovering the Past and Present of Mediterranean Rural Landscapes. A View from the Iberian Peninsula”

The study of rural landscapes in the Mediterranean region during the 1st millennium BCE has  gained increasing attention in recent decades, yet the field has traditionally focused on urban  and colonial centers. The lack of focus on rural areas has led to a limited understanding of the  social and economic dynamics of these communities and their role in the broader historical  narrative. Advances in non-invasive archaeological methods and preventative archaeology  related to public works and development projects have led to a growing body of evidence on  peasant communities, their lifestyles, and land use and management. However, due in part to  the slow adoption of the so-called “grey literature” from preventative excavations, which is  typically disregarded in academic circles, this information has not been accompanied by  theoretical frameworks that concentrate on the strategies, practices, and lifestyles of peasant  groups and communities. As a result, the study of rural spaces continues to be dominated by  “urbanocentric” perspectives that view rural areas and their inhabitants as mere providers of  food for “central places” and as marginal historical players. 

In the case of Iberia, the emphasis has been on how “rural landscapes” transformed into “rural  territories” and how the establishment of Emporion in the sixth century BCE was connected to  the organization of a more intensive and “efficient” agricultural land exploitation and  management system, with a focus on cereal production. However, models that depict this area  as being severely colonized are frequently weak and influenced by mainstream academic  discourse that denigrates rural groups, elevates “the Greeks,” and sees power relations as  innately structural. Archaeology has contributed to this prejudice by focusing on the center of  the colonial foundation and ignoring the surrounding area for more than a century. In order to  question these conventional viewpoints and provide new information, a research project has  been launched in the rural area of Emporion using a variety of techniques, including  excavation, geophysical and pedestrian surveys, and GIS mapping. The goal of this project is  to include the histories of these peasant communities more fully in the main historical narrative and move beyond the overly simple views based on the ideas of chora and territorial hierarchy  that have traditionally been used to look at these places.

Lara Fabian
Antiquity and the Narrativization of the Black Sea

In August 2011, Russia’s then prime minister Vladimir Putin goes scuba diving in the Black Sea, returning to the surface holding fragments of two amphorae. “Treasure!” he announces. The world media—and most archaeologists—scratch their heads in confusion. “Vladimir Putin’s Greek urns claim earns ridicule” reads one characteristic headline. However, and particularly in light of the war in Ukraine, the deeper story behind Putin’s photo-op merits closer consideration. 

This deeper story is unfamiliar to many archaeologists working in the Anglo-American and Western European traditions, where the Black Sea—a vibrant corner of the Mediterranean system—falls at the fringes of disciplinary interest. A narrow range of topics (e.g., Greek colonization, Black Sea grain exports, Scythian-Greek interaction) have of course been thematized. But the space has rarely played a central role in disciplinary discourses: a reality that has its roots in internal disciplinary preoccupations as well as in wider geopolitical realities. 

In stark contrast, the Black Sea has been a central object of inquiry for scholars of the ancient world working in the intellectual traditions of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the wider ‘post-Soviet’ world. This research has been, as all scholarship on antiquity is, profoundly entangled with contemporaneous political projects. 

In this paper, I lay out broad trajectory of the construction of the northern and eastern Black Sea within the Russophone tradition, moving from creation of a home-grown (отечественная) study of classical antiquity under Catherine the Great, through the flourishing of regional studies in the late Russian Empire, the struggle to tell acceptable histories in the Soviet period, and the eventual fracturing of narratives in the post-Soviet period. 

My goal in this paper is twofold. Firstly, this oft-overlooked history provides valuable insight into the diversity of ways that ancient history has been, and continues to be, operationalized in imperialist projects. Secondly, as we consider the state of our discipline, this paper invites us to reflect on how (and why) we should integrate spaces that have hitherto fallen through the cracks of our disciplinary frameworks.

Benjamin Luley (Gettysburg College)
“Comparing Colonialism: Between Classics and Anthropology in Roman Mediterranean Gaul”

Despite certain important structural similarities between the Roman Empire and other imperial powers (e.g., violent conquest of indigenous populations, taxation and exploitation, varying degrees of settler colonization, etc.), scholars have often hesitated or resisted altogether applying the term “colonialism” to the Roman Empire. At the same time, within the discipline of anthropology, the archaeology of colonialism as a subject of research, as well as an engagement with “decolonization” theories and methodologies have become increasingly popular in the past two decades. In part, the debate over the status of the Roman Empire as an example of “colonialism” is part of a larger debate about the role that Mediterranean archaeology will play in the 21st century: to what extent will it remain as a specialized sub-field within Classical
Studies –- a field structurally built around only two Mediterranean societies, that of Greece and Rome -– and to what extent will it seek to engage with larger debates about human societies comparatively across space and time?

In this talk, I suggest that analyzing Roman rule in the conquered provinces as an example of colonialism allows us to better evaluate the local experiences of non-Roman peoples living under violently imposed foreign rule, while also allowing Mediterranean archaeologists to contribute to a wider understanding of the structural similarities and differences of empires and expansive states across space and time. Looking specifically at the example of the ongoing excavations at the site of Lattara (modern Lattes, France) in what was Roman Mediterranean Gaul, I ask what a “decolonized” archaeology of the Roman provinces might look like. In part, “decolonizing” so-called “Roman” archaeology involves above all recognizing the power imbalances implicit in Roman rule in the provinces, something brought out by the term “colonialism” itself. Furthermore, I suggest that “decolonizing” the Roman Empire can also involve a continued investigation of subaltern populations, while also moving away from thinking of this as “Roman archaeology” at all and instead looking more diachronically at transformations and continuities in the lifeways of local peoples across both the Iron Age and Roman period.

Ileana Micarelli (University of Cambridge)
Osteobiographical Investigation of Disability and Care in Classical Italy

The bioarchaeological characterisation of disabled individuals from the past is particularly challenging  because it pushes the boundaries of the interpretation of pathologies recognisable on human remains.  In this communication, I will investigate the bioarchaeological approaches for recreating the “Past to  life”. In so doing, the osteobiographical approach offers a possible framework in which human remains  are studied to understand not only the embodied experience during life but also to frame people as  playing diverse social roles (e.g. patient, healer, doctor, carer) in different times during life. Considering  the meaning of disease, treatment methods and, quite possibly, caregiving customs (i.e. written sources),  the Italian Peninsula in Classical times offers the ideal scenario. This abstract aims: (1) to use the  osteobiographical approach to explore a life narrative of a male (labelled T90/5) in need of care from  the site of Selvicciola (4th-7th c. CE, Italy), and (2) to contextualise the impact of his health status on  his community. Via methods standard in anthropology, T90/5 was analysed to assess the biological  profile. Visual inspection, CT-scan and X-rays were used for palaeopathological assessment and  biomolecular analyses to investigate the diet. The results show that a mature male survived at least two  traumatic events and an injury of the left femur neck shortly before death. Surviving multiple traumas  should be interpreted as a severe chronic condition. This caused several problems during the first phases  (blood loss, infections) and long-term recovery. To survive, T90/5 was cared for by the community not  only to avoid severe conditions in a pre-antibiotic era but also to sort out biomechanical activities. Stable  carbon and nitrogen analyses on bone collagen show a dietary intake consistent with the rest of the  group. His burial was a lithic stone coffin, close to other burials, indicating he was buried like the other  community members. Osteological investigations (paleopathological assessment, biomolecular analyses) and burial evidence of social inclusion indicate a probable adoption of alternative tasks for  subject participation in community life. This osteobiographical investigation offers insight into the  embodied experience of impairment of an individual from a Mediterranean community.

Eva Mol (University of York), Andrew Gardner (UCL), Lindsey Allen (Kings College London), Corinna Riva (UCL)
“New Agendas in Decolonised Mediterranean Archaeologies?”

This abstract would fall in both the definitions and responsibilities- themes and is perhaps not a typical abstract, more an invitation to share thoughts about archaeologies of the Mediterranean from a UK-perspective. Last year, running from January until June 2022, we organised a bi-weekly seminar called ‘Disorienting the Classical’ (link online here) at the London Institute of Classical Studies. The series were born out of a discussion on dropping the ‘Classical’ from the ICS-name and what we would gain from this, and from the encouraging decolonisation-rupture in the field in 2020/1, fuelled by Covid19 and the Black Lives Matter movement. Many panels and seminars were held that year, with great and inspiring debates, reading lists, activism, and with departments making some radical structural changes. However, that was 2020, today we see that the initial positive attitude is waning rapidly, the readiness for action fading, while people complain against wokeness on universities and ban books about critical race theory. How did Mediterranean archaeology relate to this debate?

In our series we tried to reflect on this constructively, by a tripartite structure of orienting, disorienting, and reorienting the Classical in today’s world and in academia (the theoretical concept is borrowed from Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology). How did we become familiarised and oriented to particular topics, and how has that orientation led to a much narrower working space than we often realize? Through interviews, panels, lectures, discussions with colleagues and students, by including many different voices and research angles, we have tried to critically analyse the movement, our current position, and where we should be heading. We believe we are in the right moment to reflect on all this and ask what should remain about the Classical as well as what we should do with the fragmented Mediterranean Archaeology that seemed to have largely eschewed these debates (Mol 2020). What’s in a name? What do we lose and what do we gain if we take radical measures? What roles should Mediterranean archaeology play? We would like to offer our UK-perspective and would love discussing this further with other colleagues and students and share thoughts and agendas.

James Newhard (College of Charleston) and Allison Sterrett-Krause (College of Charleston)
“Consilience and Resilience: Mediterranean Archaeology at an American Undergraduate University”

In North America, Mediterranean archaeologists typically find employment in higher education or museums. Because these positions require advanced degrees, graduate education is often assumed as the default environment for exploring curricular structure, relationships with cognate disciplines, intersections with outside communities, and issues of relevancy. However, given that graduate students of Mediterranean archaeology come from some form of undergraduate experience, it is logical to explore this preparation to gain a broad sense of how Mediterranean archaeologists develop from the beginning of their higher education experience. 

The College of Charleston’s Interdisciplinary Program in Archaeology (IPA) provides an opportunity for a deep assessment of a program that trains future Mediterranean archaeologists alongside peers studying other parts of the world. The IPA is structure around a consortium of 10 different departments spread across four of the seven schools of the institution. A review of the Program’s curricular structure explores the ownership of disciplinary knowledge among archaeologists with academic homes in Classics, Anthropology, Art History, Geology, History, Historic Preservation, and other units. The IPA offers one model for how numerous stakeholders reach consensus regarding what skills or perspectives will be required of future archaeologists writ large, of future Mediterranean archaeologists specifically, and how and by whom those skills and perspectives are delivered. The IPA at Charleston need not be taken an archetype for emulation, but it demonstrates the intricacies of power- and knowledge-sharing between Mediterranean-focused and other archaeologists and suggests pathways that could lead to a revisioning of Mediterranean archaeology’s position within the structure of higher education.

Giulia Saltini Semerari (University of Michigan), Meritxell Ferrer (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Mireia Lopez-Bertran (Universitat de Valencia)
“Gender Archaeology and the Ancient Mediterranean

The questions and priorities developed in forty years of gender archaeology have been adopted by researchers of the ancient Mediterranean intermittently, and often (though not always) with only a partial understanding of the potential offered by this body of literature.
Gender archaeology in the ancient Mediterranean is thus misaligned with broader trends within the discipline because of its narrow scope (which tends to focus on adult elite women, skew towards static descriptions, and use a limited range of archaeological datasets) and its lack of explicit engagement with disciplinary practices. This is unfortunate, because the Mediterranean offers unique opportunities to explore a number of key theoretical and practical issues raised by gender archaeology. In particular, the importance of connectivity in the trajectories of coastal Mediterranean populations, paired with a general high density of information, provides an ideal case study to investigate in
detail how culture contact impacts (and is shaped by) gender dynamics. Further, its dense and fragmented geographical and cultural space allows for the comparative investigation of variability – in terms of both local developments and the response to external inputs. The ancient Mediterranean thus holds great potential for the integration of gender as one key variable within broader historical narratives and for the creation of more nuanced theoretical understandings of culture contact. In this presentation, after a brief review of the state of gender archaeology in the Mediterranean, we outline one recent project that is
addressing this issue at one critical turning point in Mediterranean history: the transition from the Early Iron Age to the Classical period. As a collaborative project bringing together scholars from different countries and academic status, this project also raises the question
of creating inclusive and fair disciplinary practices – and issue that is dear to gender archaeology but is often neglected in Mediterranean archaeology.

State of the Field 2023 Home | Full Program  |  Speakers

State of the Field 2023: Speakers

State of the Field 2023 Home | Full Program | Abstracts

Biographies for Speakers and Discussants

Cicek Tascioglu Beeby is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University. She specializes in the art, archaeology, and social history of Greece. At the center of Cicek’s research lies the human body. She has done extensive work on funerary contexts and the manipulation of the human body after death, including bioarchaeology, funerary adornment, cremation, and secondary practices involving human bones. Her interest in the epistemology of the human body has also prompted her to explore embodied space and performance, archaeology of the senses, gender and sexuality, and the construction of personhood in the ancient world. She is particularly interested in the social implications of the representation of bodies in Greek and Roman art and literature, currently focusing on how marginalized bodies—such as women, people with disabilities, and “barbarians”—contribute to the Classical aesthetics of power and privilege. She also works in the fields of museum studies and public humanities, advocating disruptive curatorial practices that bring into question exclusionary histories of museums.   

Leah Bernardo-Ciddio is a Ph.D. Candidate at in the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Archaeology at the University of Michigan. She holds an M.Phil. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Oxford, and earned her B.A. in Classical Studies and History at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her dissertation examines the production and circulation of matt-painted pottery across and around the Adriatic in the Iron Age. She has worked on field projects at or around Ossaia, Gabii, Roccagloriosa, Roca Vecchia, and the Basentello Valley in Italy, and has conducted lab-based study in Lecce and Taranto, Italy and Tirana and Korce, Albania.

Joseph Carrino is a doctoral student at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University. He received a B.A in History from Rutgers University – Newark and an M.Phil. in Classics from the University of Cambridge. His M.Phil. thesis examined the economic conditions of early and mid-Imperial Italy by examining the macellum – a Roman covered market complex. Carrino has excavated in the Sabina, Italy as part of the Upper Sabina Tiberina Project. He has also spent a semester at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (ICCS), during which he also interned at the archaeological collection of the American Academy in Rome. Additionally, he has worked in the Education department of the Newark Museum of Art, where he helped design and run tours, and taught a Roman Civilization course at Rutgers University – Newark. His current research interests include socio-economic development and exchange, cross-cultural interactions, and connectivity studies, especially at the local level across the Mediterranean. Moreover, he is interested in how microhistories can tell big stories of change attendant on empire.

Stephen Collins-Elliott is Associate Professor and Associate Head of the Department of Classics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He received his B.A. in Classics and Mathematics from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from Florida State University, during which time he received a Fulbright grant to Italy to work at the ceramology lab of the University of Siena. His work focuses on artifact assemblages and broader economic, historical, and cultural questions on the rise of Rome over the longue durée, focusing on applied statistics and probability. He co-directs the project, Gardens of the Hesperides: The Rural Archaeology of the Loukkos Valley, which analyzes the impact of the Roman occupation on the rural economy around Lixus, the earliest city in northwestern Africa, through regional survey and targeted excavations of small rural sites.

Lara Fabian is an archaeologist and historian working on the Iranian-Mediterranean interface zone in the Achaemenid through Sasanian periods, with a particular focus on the South Caucasus. She earned her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania with a dissertation on the archaeology, history, and historiography of Caucasian Albania, a polity in the eastern Caucasus. Since 2017, she has been working as part of the ERC-funded “Beyond the Silk Road” project at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, where she has participated in the production of a three-volume handbook on the economies of Eurasia between 300 BCE and 300 CE. She co-directs a collaborative Azerbaijani-American fieldwork project in the Talish mountains of Azerbaijan, which looks at highland communities in the Late Iron Age.

Lisa Fentress is an Honorary Visiting Professor at University College London. She was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, University College London and St Hugh’s College, Oxford (D.Phil. 1979 Roman Archaeology). She was a Visiting Professor at University College London, Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, Mellon Professor at the American Academy in Rome, and is a former President of the International Association of Classical Archaeology (AIAC). In 2003, she set up Fasti Online, an international database of Mediterranean archaeological excavation which was the winner of the inaugural Archaeological Institute of America Award for Outstanding Digital Archaeology. She was awarded the Archaeological Institute of America’s gold medal for distinguished archaeological achievement in January 2022. Her primary concentration has been on the application of archaeology to history of the longue durée in both the Italian peninsula and the countries of North Africa. She has directed or co-directed survey and excavation projects in the Albegna Valley, Cosa; the abbey of San Sebastiano at Alatri and Villa Magna in Italy; Sétif in Algeria, Jerba; Utica in Tunisia; and currently, Volubilis in Morocco.

Lin Foxhall, FSA, MBE, is a Professor of archaeology and ancient Greek History. She has written on women, men, and gender in the classical world. She is an Honorary Professor at the University of Leicester, and in 2017 she was appointed to the Rathbone Chair of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology at the University of Liverpool. Foxhall studied for her bachelor’s degree at Bryn Mawr College. She received her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She was awarded her Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool in 1990 for a thesis entitled, Olive Cultivation Within Greek and Roman Agriculture: The Ancient Economy Revisited. She is the Principal Investigator on the ‘Tracing Networks’ Project. She is the co-director of the Bova Marina project. Foxhall joined the University of Leicester in 1993, and was made Professor of Greek Archaeology and History in 1999.

Tyler Franconi is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University. He holds a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in classical archaeology, and has held previous academic positions at the University of Oxford, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Alberta. He has excavated at a number of different sites in Italy, Tunisia, and the USA, and currently co-directs the Upper Sabina Tiberina Project, which investigates the long-term development of rural settlement and economy in the Sabine region of Italy, located today in the province of Rieti of the region of Lazio. Tyler’s research more generally focuses on the economic and environmental history of the Roman Empire, with particular interests in the frontier regions of Britain and Germany. His research in these zones investigates the changing relationship between Roman economic exploitation and environmental dynamism from the time of initial conquest into the early medieval period.

Benjamin Luley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and is currently the Chair of the Department of Classics at Gettysburg College. He completed his B.A. in Anthropology and History with honors at Penn State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His research interests focus on the impact of the Roman Empire on the colonized peoples of the western Mediterranean, particular the region of Mediterranean Gaul. More generally, he is interested in the archaeology of colonialism and rethinking paradigms of inequality and equality for understanding the diversity of human social organization across space and time. Luley has excavated in France, Italy, Tunisia, and the United States and has been working at the archaeological site of Lattara (modern Lattes, France) since 2006. Since 2017 he has helped to lead the excavations of the Roman-era port of the settlement at Lattara. In 2020 he published a single-authored book on his research at Lattes with Oxbow Books, entitled, Continuity and Rupture: An Archaeology of Colonial Transformations at Ancient Lattara.

Ileana Micarelli is Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Fellow in the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at University of Cambridge. She has a Master’s in Bioarcheology and M.Sc. in Medieval Archaeology; and, she earned her Ph.D. at the Department of Classics and Environmental Biology in Sapienza, University of Rome. Over the last two years, she has been the Assistant Researcher at the Department of Environmental Biology researching on Bioarcheology, Paleopathology and, specially, focusing on themes related to Bioarcheology of Care and Disability. From 2008 she has been involved in numerous archaeological campaigns ranging different time periods/areas from the Roman to Medieval Ages (Europe and Africa). During her current Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions project (B-CARED) at the McDonald Institute, she is specializing in archaeological theory related to disability and care in past populations.

Eva Mol earned her Ph.D. at Leiden, University the Netherlands. Before moving to the United Kingdom to work at the University College London, she completed postdoctoral fellowships at Chicago Classics and at the Joukowsky Institute. She is now at the University of York as Assistant Professor in Roman archaeology. In addition, she is a senior editor at the Cambridge University Press Journal Archaeological Dialogues. She published articles on digital archaeology & theory and archaeology & ethics, and has a forthcoming book out at Oxford University Press on style and assemblages in Roman Archaeology. She is currently working on a new monograph about mythology and Mediterranean archaeology.

Dimitri Nakassis is professor and chair of Classics at the University of Colorado Boulder. He received his degrees from the University of Michigan (BA) and the University of Texas at Austin (MA, PhD), and has held positions at Trinity University, the Florida State University, and the University of Toronto. He’s the author of Individuals and Society in Mycenaean Pylos (2013) and is co-director of the Western Argolid Regional Project and the Pylos Tablets Digital Project. He is currently at work on a project that proposes a new way of understanding Late Bronze Age “Mycenaean” Greece that begins by rejecting interpretations premised on its essential unity.

James Newhard, RPA, is Director of Archaeology, Director of the Center for Historical Landscapes, and Professor of Classics at the College of Charleston. As a landscape archaeologist, he focuses on the interplay between environmental and human history. As an informaticist, his work focuses on the application of data and geospatial science within archaeology and history. He has served in leading roles on archaeological projects in Turkey, the US, and Greece. In 2005, Dr. Newhard served as the inaugural Director of Archaeology and has served as either Director of Archaeology or Chair of Classics for the better part of his career. Newhard earned a dual Bachelor of Arts in Classical Art & Archaeology and Classical Languages from the   University of Missouri, an M.A. in Classics from the University of Cincinnati, and a Ph.D. in Classical Studies from the University of Cincinnati.

Giulia Saltini Semerari is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Assistant Curator in the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She arrived in Michigan after one postdoc in Amsterdam and one in Tübingen, and a Ph.D. at the University of Oxford. Her main research interest is Mediterranean connectivity in the early first millennium BC, with a focus on the central Mediterranean. To address this, she conducted an international, collaborative project (AMICI) applying a spectrum of bioarchaeological and archaeological analyses to indigenous and early colonial cemeteries in southern Italy. A new project on Adriatic connectivity is set to start in 2023. She is also the vice-director of the fieldschool at the indigenous-Greek site of Incoronata (southern Italy), where she is responsible for metal finds and textile tools. A second research interest is the archaeology of gender, and she has recently co-organized a new research initiative on gender in the Early Iron Age Mediterranean.

Anna Soifer is a doctoral candidate at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2017 with a B.A. in Archaeology and Classics. She received honors in Archaeology for a thesis examining the socio-political implications of Etruscan and Etrusco-Campanian antefixes, focusing specifically on the analysis of a set of barely published Capuan antefixes in the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum. While at Hopkins, she also participated in the Archaeological Museum’s ‘Recreating Ancient Greek Ceramics’ project. Anna has excavated with the S’Urachi Project, Sardinia (2018-), the Uronarti Regional Archaeological Project, Sudan (2019), the Poggio Civitate Archaeological Project, Italy (2015-17), serving as the site registrar in 2017, and at the Buried Gardens of Kampsville, Illinois with the CAA (2012). She has also interned in the Study Collection at the American Academy in Rome, and has worked on the digital illustration of artifacts and architecture from Umm el-Marra, Syria. Her current research interests include  ancient craft and industry, knowledge transfer, communities of practice, and ceramic analysis, particularly in the context of understanding community development and interaction in Pre-Roman Italy.

Peter van Dommelen is a Mediterranean archaeologist, whose research and teaching revolve around the rural and indigenous Mediterranean past and present. The regional focus of his work lies in the western Mediterranean, where he carries out long-term fieldwork on the island of Sardinia. He studied Archaeology and Classics at the University of Leiden (the Netherlands), specializing in Theoretical and Classical Archaeology (MA, 1990; PhD, 1998); he also studied Anthropology and Material Culture at UCL (1990-91). He taught Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Glasgow between 1997 and 2012, before coming to Brown University. He has served as Director of the Joukowsky Institute since 2015.

Mateo González Vázquez completed his undergraduate studies in History at the Universitat de Barcelona, his M.Phil. at the University of Oxford, and his Ph.D. from Universitat de Barcelona. He has been a visiting scholar at Brown University, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, and Cincinnati. Currently, he is a postdoctoral researcher at the Universität Trier in Germany, working on a DFG-funded project that explores maritime connectivity in the Mediterranean during Classical Antiquity and as a co-PI on the four-year project “Contact Landscapes and Rural Communities around Emporion (10th-2nd century BC).” He co-directs work at several sites in L’Escala, Baix Empordà, and he has been a member of the archaeological mission team at Monte Testaccio (Rome) since 2011. His research is focused on the history and archaeology of the Western Mediterranean, with a particular interest in economic structures, local responses, and imperial power mechanisms from the Iron Age to the Roman era.

State of the Field 2023 Home | Full Program | Abstracts

State of the Field 2023: Program

State of the Field 2023 Home | Speaker Biographies | Abstracts

Friday, 14 April 2023

Introductions and Keynotes

Peter van Dommelen (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology) and Tyler Franconi (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology):

Lin Foxhall (Liverpool):
Keynote Address: “Changing Approaches to Mediterranean Archaeology: Seeking Small, Thinking Big

Elizabeth Fentress:
Keynote Address: “Mediterranean Networks — Towards a Collective Archaeology”

Saturday, 15 April 2023

Session 1: Perspectives

Eva Mol (York), Andrew Gardner (UCL), Lindsey Allen (KCL), and Corinna Riva (UCL):
“New Agendas in Decolonised Mediterranean Archaeologies?”

Benjamin Luley (Gettysburg):
“Comparing Colonialism: Between Classics and Anthropology in Roman Mediterranean Gaul”

10:10-10:30: Discussion

10:30-11:00: Coffee Break

Session 2: Pedagogy

Stephen Collins-Elliot (Tennessee Knoxville):
“The Sisyphean Bind of Romanization: Post-Colonial Approaches, Cultural Essentialism, and Grand Narratives in Roman Archaeology”

James Newhard (Charleston) and Allison Sterrett-Krause (Charleston):
“Consilience and Resilience: Mediterranean Archaeology at an American Undergraduate University”

11:40-12:00: Discussion

12:00-13:00: Lunch Break

Session 3: Geographies

Leah Bernardo-Ciddio (Michigan):
“From Its Depths: Archaeology and Colonialism through the Adriatic Mirror”

Lara Fabian (Freiburg):
“Antiquity and the Narrativization of the Black Sea”

Ana Delgado Hervás (Pompeu Fabra) and Mateo González Vázquez (Trier):
“Uncovering the Past and Present of Mediterranean Rural Landscapes. A View from the Iberian Peninsula”

14:00-14:30: Discussion

14:30-15:00: Coffee Break

Session 4: Diversity

Ileana Micarelli (Cambridge):
“Osteobiographical Investigation of Disability and Care in Late Antique and Early Medieval Italy”

Giulia Saltini Semerari (Michigan), Meritzell Ferrer (Pompeu Fabra), and Mireia Lopez-Bertran (Valencia):
“Gender Archaeology and the Ancient Mediterranean”

15:40-16:00: Discussion

16:00-16:15: Break

Final Discussion

Dimitri Nakassis (Colorado)

Open to the Public

This conference will be held in person on the campus of Brown University, with the goal of bringing colleagues together to discuss the issues raised by the talks. It is free and open to the public, and no registration is required.

Although the conference will not be offered online in a hybrid format, we plan to film the proceedings and make as many of the talks as possible available for viewing online several weeks after the conference’s conclusion.

State of the Field 2023 Home | Speaker Biographies | Abstracts

Brown Bag Talks for Spring 2023

Brown Bag talks are held Thursdays from 12:00-12:50 pm in Rhode Island Hall 108.
These talks are free and open to the public. The schedule for the Spring 2023 semester is below.

Brown paper bag with the JIAAW logo

February 16, 2023:
Celebrating 2023 Anthropology Day  

February 23, 2023:
Morgan Clark (Department of Anthropology, Brown University)
“True Stories” and Narrative Control: Speech and Image in Classic Maya Mythohistory

March 16, 2023:
Cicek Beeby (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Parodies of Sexual Violence in Art and Media: A Parallel Study of Ancient Greece and Modern Turkey

March 23, 2023:
Ana Gonzalez San Martin (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
The Hammer and the Sickle: Tracing the Landscape of Labor Organization in Prehistoric Cyprus

April 6, 2023:
Leah Neiman (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Translating Clitoral Pain in the Kahun Papyrus and What Medicine Doesn’t Have To Say About It

April 13, 2023:
Elizabeth Davis (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Lived Religion and the Making of Early Christian Identity in Late Antique Asia Minor

April 20, 2023:
Gerasimoula (Mina) Nikolovieni (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Reading Textile Traces of Modern Greece

May 4, 2023:
M. Elizabeth Gravalos (Department of Anthropology, Brown University and Postdoctoral Scientist in the Negaunee Integrative Research Center at the Field Museum)
Casma Statecraft? Examining Politics and Pottery Production on Peru’s North Coast, ca. 1000-1450 CE

CFP: Archaeologies of the Mediterranean (Brown University) – Deadline January 31, 2023

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State of the Field 2023:
Archaeologies of the Mediterranean

Friday, 14 April – Saturday, 15 April 2023

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Abstract deadline: 31 January 2023

Mediterranean Archaeology sits at an often complex intersection of the fields of Archaeology, Classics, Anthropology, History, and Art History. While several of these fields, in particular Classics and Anthropology have begun periods of significant critical self-reflection that explicitly question their present and future, Mediterranean Archaeology is doing so in a more fragmented manner. This lack of coherence may perhaps be ascribed to institutional fragmentation, in particular in US academia, but it can also be traced to its intricate location at the intersection of multiple academic traditions. As a result, Mediterranean archaeology has struggled to identify its own priorities and find its own voice for challenging traditional narratives and approaches and, as a result, risks being subsumed by adjacent disciplines with louder voices, despite many possible valuable contributions.

In light of these challenges, and especially considering the rapid pace of developments in archaeological methods and theory, the time is ripe to consider both the state of our field at this moment in time and to discuss where it can and should go in the future. Nearly every facet of Mediterranean Archaeology may be questioned and, indeed, we must do so in order to guarantee the continued relevance of our subject in both the ancient and modern worlds.

Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World will host a conference titled State of the Field 2023: Archaeologies of the Mediterraneanon April 14-15, 2023. This meeting builds on a tradition of ‘State of the Field’ workshops hosted by the Joukowsky Institute since 2011 that reflect upon current trends in archaeological practice. This year’s conference discusses the place of Mediterranean Archaeology in the modern world in North America, Europe and the Mediterranean. We intend to examine academic traditions and assumptions as well as contemporary institutional and political structures that frame our theoretical and methodological engagement with the material culture of the ancient Mediterranean and adjacent regions in order to ensure that the field maintains relevance into the future.

We invite submissions for papers of approximately 20 minutes by sending an abstract of no more than 350 words to  [email protected] by 31 January 2023. We will cover travel expenses and accommodation for speakers, and especially encourage submissions from early-career researchers.

Suggested themes can include, but are not limited to:

●     Diversity – How has the field fared in diversifying its participants at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels? This can include topics of gender, class, race and any other background. Have we succeeded in teaching and researching more diverse subjects that better account for ancient realities? What remains to be done?

●     Definitions – How do we define our field of study? What is its geography, chronology, and cultural scope? What subjects should we include, and what theories and methods should be used? How do we fit into current academic and university structures? Why does US academia not have Archaeology departments anymore? What are the consequences of this departmental division and what can we do about it? What do we have in common with other fields, and what is unique about our own?

●     Relationships – How do we relate to non-academic structures, especially State-run or commercial (i.e., rescue or preventative) archaeology? What role do foreign schools and institutions serve in forming these relationships? How do we engage responsibly with local communities in the places where we conduct fieldwork?

●     Historiography – How have the last two centuries (or more) of archaeological practice shaped the modern field, and should they be maintained or discarded? Have we done enough to examine and change the colonial foundations of the discipline? What can we do better?

●     Responsibilities – How do we communicate the significance of our field to the public, both at home and abroad? What role does public archaeology play in our field? How has pedagogy changed, and how might it change further? What role do museums and archaeological parks play in our public relationships? How should items and exhibits be displayed?

●     Narratives – How has our field shaped knowledge of the past? Are current practices changing narratives? What existing narratives remain to be challenged?

For questions about this Call for Papers, or about the conference, please see our conference website, or email [email protected].

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
Brown University | Box 1837 | Rhode Island Hall | 60 George Street | Providence, RI  02912
t: (401) 863-3188 | f: (401) 863-9423
e: [email protected] w:

Virtual Vault: Cypriot Drinking Cup

Object Number: 185
Object Title: Ceramic cup
Object Type: cup (drinking vessels)
Material: ceramic (material)

This light brown, buff colored vessel with dark brown geometric designs may seem fairly innocuous at first glance.  However, its production, shape, and decoration are all tied to dramatic shifts in trade and exchange in the Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1650-1050 BCE).

The Late Bronze Age Mediterranean, particularly the eastern Mediterranean, was characterized by heightened amounts of contact between different regions. The Hittite and Egyptian empires were vying for control of the Levant – the western coast of the Middle East.  Archives excavated at the Egyptian site of El-Amarna (founded by the one and only Akhenaten) and the key trade center of Ugarit (located in modern Syria) have produced a staggering amount of letters exchanged between the rulers in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Levant, and, most importantly within this discussion, Cyprus. These correspondences demonstrate a network of “kingly exchange” where rulers send gifts with the expectation of receiving something in return. 

This pan-Mediterranean contact was not just limited to a brotherhood of kings. The Uluburun shipwreck, found off the coast of southern Turkey, provides evidence for the more mundane side of these trade networks. The ship contained hundreds of amphorae, demonstrating its vast storage capacity, as well as other trade goods including drinking vessels and copper ingots originating from the island of Cyprus (Hirshfeld 2008).

So how does this little drinking cup fit into these grand trade networks? The vessel can be identified as a typical White Slip II ware, commonly referred to as a “milk bowl” due to its light, almost-white slip. These bowls or cups were produced in Cyprus during the Late Bronze Age, but their presence is found throughout the Mediterranean, from sites in the Levant like Megiddo (Clark 2018: 75-78), to those in Sardinia like Nuraghe Antigori (Vagnetti 2001: 78), as well as in the North Sinai and Egypt (Bergoffen 1991).  

One of the key commodities during the Late Bronze Age was, as the name of the period might suggest, bronze. Bronze is not a naturally-occuring metal, and instead is produced through combining copper and tin. Cyprus was a key tradestop during the Late Bronze Age due to its copper-rich mines, and letters to the king of Egypt as well as archaeological evidence from shipwrecks provide solid evidence for the high demand of Cypriot copper.

Of course, materials don’t just travel by themselves. Traders and sailors traveled throughout the Mediterranean and brought small objects along with them, including small drinking vessels like the one in our Vault Collection. Cypriot traders could bring these items with them and exchange them for other goods, and it is likely through this that a demand for White Slip II bowls grew and grew. In fact, they seem to have been more popular outside of the island; scholars have argued that external demand, particularly in the Levant, drove the production of milk bowls in Cyprus.

While this little cup with a fun wishbone handle seems like a simple, everyday object, the wider context of the importance of trade and Cyprus during the Late Bronze Age demonstrates that even mass-produced, less valuable artifacts can hold huge importance.

More examples for Cypriot White Slip Wares:

Brooklyn Museum

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art The inhabitants of Cyprus exported bowls with wishbone handles throughout the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries B.C.E. Egyptologists call them milk bowls because of their milky coloration, but they do not know how the bowls were used. DATES ca. 1400-1225 B.C.E.


Works Cited

Bergoffen, C. J. (1991). Overland trade in Northern Sinai: the evidence of the Late Cypriot pottery. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 284(1), 59-76.

Clark, B. A. (2018). Trade in Middle and Late Bronze Age Transition at Megiddo: A Study of Imported Cypriot Pottery. Master’s Thesis. University of Haifa.

Hirschfeld, N. (2008). Cypriot pottery. In J. Aruz, K. Benzel, & J. M. Evans (Eds.), Beyond Babylon: Art, trade, and diplomacy in the second millennium B.C. (pp. 321-323). Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Vagnetti, L. (2001). Some Observations on Late Cypriot Pottery from the Central Mediterranean. In L. Bonfante & V. Karageorghis (Eds.), Italy and Cyprus in Antiquity 1500-450 BC (pp. 77-96). Department of Antiquities Cyprus, Nicosia.

Updated date: Lecture by Katina Lillios 11/16

Please join us Wednesday, November 16 at 5:30 pm EST for a lecture by Katina Lillios (The University of Iowa) titled “The Islamic Lives of Iberian Megaliths: Some Initial Explorations” in Rhode Island Hall, Room 108. Reception to follow.

Katina Lillios is an anthropological archaeologist interested in the ways people used material culture, the remains of the dead, and monuments to create, enhance, and challenge sociopolitical difference and inequality. She is intrigued by the ways that social phenomena and cultural values come to be materialized, and how their materiality triggers social action.

Lillios is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa, and holds her degrees from Yale University (Ph.D. and M.A.) and Boston University (B.A.). Her areas of specialty are prehistoric Iberia, and mnemonics in the archaeological record. She has published widely, and is the principal investigator at the Bolores rockshelter in Portugal, and for a study of Portuguese Copper Age tools.

Lecture by Philipp Stockhammer 11/15

Please join us on Tuesday, November 15 at 4 PM for a lecture by Philipp Stockhammer (Ludwig-Maximilians University) titled “Bioarchaeology in the Bronze Age Levant: Novel Insights into Mobility, Food, and Philistines.” The lecture will take place in Rhode Island Hall Room 108 with reception to follow.

Philipp W. Stockhammer is professor for prehistoric archaeology with a focus on the Eastern Mediterranean at Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich and co-director of Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean, Jena. His research focuses on the transformative power of intercultural encounters, human-thing-entanglements, social practices and the integration of archaeological and scientific interpretation.

Brown Bag Talks for Fall 2022

Brown Bag talks are held Thursdays from 12:00-12:50pm in RI Hall 108.
These talks are free and open to the public. Information about each talk will be provided below.

Brown paper bag with the JIAAW logo

October 13, 2022:
Daniel Everton (Public Humanities, Brown University)
Re-imagining the Predynastic Man Exhibit at Museo Egizio

October 20, 2022:
Amanda Gaggioli (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Decolonialism and Mediterranean Archaeology: the case for the Aegean prehistory/history divide

November 3, 2022:
John F. Cherry & Liza Davis (Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Brown University)
Archaeology in the Potter’s Field at Providence’s North Burial Ground

November 17, 2022:
Christina Hodge (Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University)
Desanitizing Provenance: Critical Documentation in Museum Collections

December 1, 2022
Breton Langendorfer (History of Art and Architecture, Brown University)
Achaemenid Syntax: Architecture, Metalware, and Modularity