Pandemics and Plagues in Antiquity

This webinar series is part of the course ARCH 1765: Pandemics, Pathogens, and Plagues in the Greek and Roman Worlds taught by Tyler Franconi. All talks are free and open to the public. Use the links below to register for each talk in the series.
Please note that all talks will be recorded and links to the recordings will be posted on this page as they become available.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
12:00-1:30pm EDT

History, Biology, and the Antonine Plague
Kyle Harper, University of Oklahoma

Kyle Harper is Professor of Classics and Letters and Provost Emeritus at The University of Oklahoma. Dr. Harper is a historian of the ancient world whose work has spanned economic, environmental, and social history. He is the author of three books Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425 (2011) which was awarded the James Henry Breasted Prize by the American Historical Association and the Outstanding Publication Award from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South; From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality (2013) which won the Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in Historical Studies from the American Academy of Religion; and The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire (2017) which has been translated into twelve languages. He is currently writing a global history of infectious disease.

Thursday, November 5, 2020
12:00-1:30pm EST

The Economic Impact of the Antonine Plague
Andrew Wilson, University of Oxford

Andrew Wilson is Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Empire in the Faculty of Classics and a Fellow of All Souls College at the University of Oxford. Professor Wilson’s research interests include the economy of the Roman Empire, ancient technology, ancient water supply and usage, Roman North Africa and archaeological field survey. He co-directs, with Alan Bowman, the Oxford Roman Economy Project (OxREP) and edits the Oxford Studies on the Roman Economy series with Oxford University Press. He also co-directs the Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire project with Chris Howgego. He also leads, together with Bob Bewley, Graham Philip, and David Mattingly, the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) Project, using satellite imagery to assess threats to archaeological sites. He has excavated numerous sites in Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and Cyprus, and is currently involved in excavations at Aphrodisias (Turkey) and Utica (Tunisia).

Tuesday, November 10, 2020
12:00-1:30pm EST

Quisquamne regno gaudet? Politics and Plague in Seneca’s Oedipus
Hunter Gardner, University of South Carolina

Hunter Gardner is an Associate Professor of Classics at the University of South Carolina. She is an affiliate of Women’s and Gender Studies and recently joined the core faculty of both the Comparative Literature Program and the South Carolina Honors College. Dr. Gardner is the author of two monographs, Gendering Time in Augustan Love Elegy (2013) and Pestilence and the Body Politic in Latin Literature (2019). This most recent book explores the development of plague narratives in the western tradition and, in particular, looks to Roman epic poets writing in the late Republic and early Principate as significant contributors to depictions of contagion. Like her work on Latin love elegy, the project draws in part from an understanding of the social upheavals and civil discord that characterized this period of Roman history, with its shift from aristocratic governance to quasi-monarchy under Augustus.

Dr. Gardner also regularly teaches and publishes in the area of reception studies. She recently co-edited a collection of essays on adaptations of the Odysseus myth in various media (novels, visual arts, television) and teaches a course on the reception of Greco-Roman antiquity in cinema and popular culture.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020
12:00-1:30pm EST

Palaeogenetic Insights into the First Plague Pandemic (541-750)
Marcel Keller, University of Tartu

Marcel Keller is a Research Assistant at the Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Estonia. He received his PhD in Archaeogenetics from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History where he focused his research on the first and second historically documented pandemics caused by Yersinia pestis: the ‘Justinianic Plague’ at the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages (541-750) and the Late Medieval ‘Black Death’ (1347-1353) followed by reoccurring epidemics in Europe until the 18th century. With genomic and phylogenetic approaches on ancient DNA from skeletal remains, he explores the biology and dispersal in space and time of this exemplary human pathogen. His recent publications include the widespread identification of victims of the First Pandemic utilizing ancient DNA across Western Europe, and analyzing the phylogeography of the Second Pandemic using DNA from the 14th-18th centuries.