Fall 2014 - Spring 2015
October 9, 2014
Fur-Lined Fantasies: Amazon and Herakles Costumes in Greek Vase Painting, Willamette University, College of Law, Paulus Lecture Hall (Room 201)
Dr. Daniella Widdows
Many figures on ancient Greek vases are depicted wearing the skins of animals. For the most part, these wearers come from the mythological realm and include satyrs, maenads, and the hero Herakles. It is very unusual for these skins to retain the head of the animal, and the appearance of the skin head, in addition to providing compositional diversity and extra detail, helps to signify the status of the wearer, frequently in terms of gender and relative power. Indeed the particular placement of the skin head highlights the interplay of power and gender within the scene. One particular placement of a skin's head (over the wearer's groin), is more marked than the other two positions in which skin heads appear (over the wearer's own head, or draped over the wearer's arm or back). After outlining the norms of skin head placement and meaning, Dr. Widdows will focus upon the groin placement, suggesting that its rarity and marked nature is due to the animal heads' resemblance to masks, gorgoneions, or frontally-faced figures.
October 23, 2014
Reconstructing and Testing Ancient Linen Body Armor: The Linothorax Project (AIA Joukowsky Lecture), College of Law, Paulus Lecture Hall, Room 201
Dr. Gregory S. Aldrete
For nearly 1000 years, one of the common forms of protection used by ancient Mediterranean warriors, including the armies of the Greeks and Alexander the Great, was the linothorax, a type of body armor apparently made out of linen. Due to the perishable nature of its components, however, no examples have survived. Today it is poorly understood and is known only through fragmentary descriptions in literature and images on pottery and in sculpture. Employing materials and techniques that would have been available to the ancient Greeks, the members of the UWGB Linothorax Project have investigated this mysterious armor by reconstructing and wearing full-scale examples, as well as subjecting test samples to attack with ancient weapons, in order to determine their characteristics and protective qualities. This presentation will not only describe the project's findings, but will also display a reconstructed linothorax and test samples for the audience's examination.
Project website on lecture topic (for the lay reader).
November 13, 2014
The Role of Inter-regional Trade in the Uruk Expansion: Putting the Pieces Together, College of Law, Paulus Lecture Hall, Room 201
Dr. Leah Minc
During the mid-4th millennium BCE, the material culture of Mesopotamia spread rapidly from the southern heartland into the surrounding uplands. Distinctive ceramic vessel forms (droop spouts, nose lug jars, and jars with incised cross-hatch bands), as will as administrative technology (seals, tokens, numerical tablets), and architectural patterns began to appear in settlements throughout SW Iran, NE Syria, and southern Turkey, suggesting a major and sustained presence of people from S. Mesopotamia. Since the path-breaking work of Guillermo Algaze, this "Uruk Expansion" has been largely understood as an attempt by cities of the alluvial plain to gain control of upland raw materials and resources, first, by the colonization of the near-by Susiana Plain of Iran, and secondly, by the establishment of trading enclaves along key river valleys leading to the interior. Yet little is securely known of the types of goods traded, nor of the specific routes of communication throughout the Uruk world. This lecture presents the results of chemical analyses of ceramic pastes using Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) with the goal of monitoring potential ceramic trade between the Mesopotamian heartland and outlying Uruk settlements. In a major international, collaborative research effort, we have now completed trace-element analyses of nearly 1900 Uruk-era vessels from key sites stretching across Mesopotamia, N. Iraq, Syria, and Iran. These analyzes provide physical evidence allowing researchers to monitor whether ceramic vessels and containers were moving between the lowlands of Mesopotamia and the surrounding highlands, and to reexamine the significance of the shared ceramic styles marking the "Uruk Expansion".
February 19, 2015
Dining with the Dead: New Discoveries in early Byzantine Sicily, Mark O. Hatfield Library, Hatfield Room
Dr. R. J. A. Wilson
This talk will describe the results of the University of British Columbia's archaeological excavations in Sicily between 2008 and 2010. The site was at Punta Secca (RG), known to millions of Italians as the home of TV cop, Salvo Montalbano; it lies right on the south coast of Sicily, is a late Roman and Early Byzantine village. It was partly excavated in the 1960s and 1970s by Paola Pelagatti, Honorary Fellow of the BSR, and identified by her as the Kaukana of the ancient sources, where Belisarius set sail for the conquest of Africa in 533 AD. The aim of the new excavation was to focus on one building, a house, and examine in detail its building phases, its function, and the commercial contacts that its inhabitants enjoyed with other parts of Sicily - and indeed the wider Mediterranean world. While substantial progress was made on all these questions, the biggest surprise was the discovery of a tomb placed in what was probably the yard of the house in the second quarter of the seventh century AD, and of evidence for associated feasting in honor of the deceased. Who was inside the tomb, and why did that person deserve this level of respect? What evidence was there for feasts, and what did they eat? Was it pagan or a Christian burial? And what was the tomb doing here, in a domestic setting, rather than in the village cemetery, or indeed, if the deceased was Christian, in or near the settlement's church? These and other intriguing questions will be addressed in the lecture, and the discovery set in the context of what else is knownabout such practices in late Roman and early Byzantine funerary culture.
March 5, 2015
Ancient Greek Gynecology for Beginners: Wine, Women, and Wandering Wombs (8th Annual Lane C. McGaughy CASA Lecture) , College of Law, Paulus Lecture Hall, Room 201
Dr. Helen King
How did ancient medicine answer the fundamental questions about the sexed body: how far are women different from men, and how should medicine take this into account? In this lecture Professor King will introduce the strange world of ancient women's medicine and the remedies for women's diseases, including scent therapy. She will demonstrate why diagnoses and remedies which no longer make sense to us - such as the 'wandering womb' and the beetle pessary - made perfect sense to the ancient Greeks, and investigate how men and women interacted in accounting for disease and in proposing cures.
Co-sponsored by Willamette University's Women and Gender Studies Program.
April 9, 2015
How Chocolate Came to Be, College of Law, Paulus Lecture Hall, Room 201
Dr. Kathryn E. Sampeck
These days, chocolate is a fairly unremarkable part of our daily lives. We have many ideas that we associate with it--what color it is, how it should taste, what kinds of foods it should be part of. All of these qualities seem natural, unremarkable. Little would you suspect that chocolate has a colonial past that involved some of the greatest horrors of colonialism in Spanish America, all because of very different ideas and uses in the past. The fascinating journey from these early colonial encounters with chocolate to the more modern experience of it had much to do with who produced chocolate, where, and when and for whom--in other words, labor relations in Latin America, local politics, and Atlantic World trade. It is a story of struggles against abuse and marginalization, covert and overt resistance, victories both small and large despite changes in the political economy designed to thwart those very efforts. The social history of chocolate is truly bittersweet.
To tell this less delectable side of the story of chocolate, Dr. Sampeck will follow two lines of evidence: various kinds of documents including accounts, descriptions, and so on, and information from archaeology--the kinds of places laborers lived, where, what sorts of things they used in their daily life, which gives us a window into the conditions of their lives, while the implements for preparing and serving chocolate and where and how they are a part of material culture show how consumers made chocolate a part of their lives. The two lines of evidence often complement each other, but in some cases not.
By comparing the archaeology and ethnohistory of producers and consumers, we see that every time we use the word chocolate, we invoke its Mesoamerican past; when we taste the bitter and the sweet, we taste the political and economic choices of the colonial past. It is no accident that we think of chocolate as sinful, as healthy, as dark, as rich. These are all experiences that were shaped by and had profound effects on the daily lives of both chocolate consumers and the people who lived and worked in the birthplace of chocolate.
Co-sponsored by Willamette University's Latin American Studies Program and the Department of Anthropology.
April 24, 2015
Plato and Aristotle on Body and Soul, Eaton Hall, room 209
Dr. Stasinos V. Stavrianeas
Aristotle’s account of the relation between body and soul as a unity between matter and form, is often described as a via media between Platonic dualism and pre-Socratic versions of materialism. In certain respects this picture distorts the contrast between the two conceptions. First, Plato, especially in later dialogues, suggests that the soul shares a number of features with material bodies. What is distinctive of the Platonic conception of the soul is not its immateriality, but rather its being a self-moving entity responsible for initiating bodily movement. Second, Aristotle can be read as holding a moderate dualist position: the soul is an immaterial substance, dependent on the body but not constituted by it. If so then the contrast between the Platonic and the Aristotelian conceptions of the soul as related to the body turns not on the immateriality of the former, but rather on the way it is supposed to control and get affected by bodily movement in general. I explore how Plato’s effort to explain this interaction leads to a conception of the soul that involves material characteristics, and, secondly, how Aristotle’s effort to disentangle the soul from any material characteristics can be made sensible within his physics. I also review the Platonic and the Aristotelian hierarchical taxonomy of living beings (their views on scala naturae), illustrating their divergent motivations in explaining how the soul relates to the body.
Co-sponsored by Willamette University's Department of Philosophy.
April 25, 2015
The 10th Annual Northwest Undergraduate Conference on the Ancient World, Ford Hall (Kremer Board Room)
This one-day undergraduate conference features 14 talented undergraduates from all over the Pacific Northwest presenting their work, for example a B.A. thesis or outstanding seminar paper, in a 20-minute talk to an audience of undergraduates and their faculty mentors.
For more information, see the conference website here.