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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, www.brown.edu/go/sotf2023 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: http://www.brown.edu/go/archaeology

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.

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

CFP: Archaeology of the Levant

Call for Projects

(Photographs, Films, Multi-Media Installations, Posters)

State of the Field 2020:
Archaeology of the Levant

Friday, March 13 to Saturday, March 14, 2020

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

Abstract Deadline: December 15, 2019

The Levant, a loosely defined region encompassing the modern countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and Cyprus, is rich in archaeology and history. The region has been central to the discipline of archaeology since the nineteenth century, and arguably even earlier. A long history of colonial rule, political and religious differences, academic specializations and passions, stark financial inequalities and war continue to inform and limit dialogue not only among local and foreign archaeologists working there, but also among scholars, local communities, government officials, and other stakeholders.

Aware of the ancient and modern importance of the region, the peculiar challenges it poses, the possibilities for collaboration, and the need for creative perspectives, the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University will host State of the Field 2020: Archaeology of the Levant on March 13-14, 2020.  The event is part of the Joukowsky Institute’s “State of the Field” conference series, a yearly meeting which aims to highlight and reflect upon specific thematic or regional archaeological topics within a community of scholars whose research engages with those topics.

State of the Field 2020: Archaeology of the Levant will be dedicated to addressing the unique aspects of the Levant through a series of invited papers and presentations, aimed to foster constructive discussion of current and future directions for archaeology in the region. Topics of particular interest include:

  • Current directions, critical trends, and lacunae in archaeological research in any part of the Levant, or in the region as a whole
  • Museum, archival studies, and other investigations that rely primarily on archaeological legacy data
  • The effects of colonial rule, modern geopolitics, fluctuating national boundaries, war, and migration, among many other factors regarding the practice and interpretations of archaeological work in the region

To expand the conversation beyond conventional academic papers, the Joukowsky Institute now invites contributions – particularly from early-career scholars – that touch on the themes of the conference and highlight new and innovative approaches to the study of the Levant. We welcome proposals for traditional conference posters, as well as less traditional projects, such as short films, artwork, podcasts, multi-media installations, or other forms that engage with the themes of the conference in thoughtful and illuminating ways.

Accepted posters and projects will be exhibited throughout the duration of the meeting and will be presented during a dedicated time slot shortly before the Friday-night reception. Contributors are encouraged, though not required, to attend and participate actively in the full conference and will be provided with lunch on Saturday, but will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs.

To submit a proposal for a poster or project, please send an abstract of 250 words or less to [email protected] by December 15, 2019. For questions about this Call for Projects, or about the conference, please see our conference website, brown.edu/go/sotf2020, or email [email protected].