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Current Dissertation Projects

Irene Elias

Power and Identity in the Late Symposium

Irene's dissertation approaches Greek sympotic literature of the first two centuries CE as a reflection of a unique branch of the sympotic tradition, rather than as a tool to learn about the classical symposium or contemporary Roman dining practices. She argues that the symposium was an integral elite institution at this time as well, with an acknowledgment of deep traditional roots but filled with fascinating new innovations, beliefs, and practices. The dissertation questions how the Greek elites of the early Roman empire used the symposium to their advantage, and why each element was beneficial for the banqueters. This analysis reveals multiple ways in which Greek elites positioned themselves and affirmed their identities relative to each other, to the lower classes, to elites of other communities, and to their own past. The use of food, drink, sexuality, and entertainment (music, philosophy, etc.) at the symposium all provide insight to the values upheld by these elites, and reflect on their anxieties about luxury, equality, piety, education, and above all, the sociability required to live in harmony in a world with such complicated social networks and power dynamics.


Danielle Perry

North African Identity under the Roman Empire  

Danielle’s project looks at material culture and textual sources to explore how North Africans responded to Roman power during the Late Republic and Imperial periods. By investigating phenomena such as religion, social structures, and naming customs she argues for a nuanced understanding of Roman-North African relations during this period and a reimagining of the traditional narrative around provincial assimilation into Roman society. This dissertation also takes seriously North African identity as separate from, though undoubtedly influenced by, Roman imperialism and thus engages with Punic-language sources from the region as well as any relevant Greek or Latin evidence. Ultimately, North Africa served as a landscape of colonialism and the people who lived there developed their own techniques for preserving their local cultures while being subjects of an empire.


Matthew Reichelt

The Elite Networks of the Seleucid Empire

In previous studies, the Seleucid Empire has been investigated through the perspectives of either the royal dynasty or the local communities under its control. However, in this dissertation, I argue that an alternative approach exists. Instead of focusing on the royal dynasty or local communities, I investigate the Seleucid Empire through the perspective of the imperial elites who inhabited the royal courts, served as garrison commanders, and managed estates. The imperial elites performing various roles formed an extensive network that spanned the length of the Seleucid Empire. This dissertation, by avoiding a top-down perspective, explores how the imperial elites interacted with members of the royal dynasty, other elites in the network, and the many different types of communities that they exercised influence over. I argue that such interactions had a wide range of outcomes for the imperial elites who attempted to acquire and maintain their social capital by various means within this competitive space. This dissertation relies upon a wide range of archaeological, epigraphic, numismatic, and literary sources. Each category of evidence offers a different perspective on the activities and behaviors of the imperial elites across the expanse of the Seleucid Empire. 


Peter Satterthwaite

Private Wealth and Public Finance in the Hellenistic Polis
Peter's dissertation is concerned with the financial relationships between individuals and cities in the Hellenistic Greek world, especially as they were enacted through taxes, liturgies, loans, gifts, subscriptions, and foundations. In much scholarship, the intersections of private wealth and public finance in ancient Greece are studied in relation to either taxation or euergetism. These two paradigms are often contradictory—the former defined by compulsion and requirement, the latter by voluntarity and reward—and yet they also lay claim to some of the same financial phenomena. Liturgies and subscriptions, for instance, can be claimed for either category but also strain their respective definitions. Therefore, the goal of this project is to set these intersections of private wealth and public finance on an equal footing, situating them on a spectrum with various degrees of constraint and reward. This approach is founded on the common function of all these financial arrangements—the deployment of private wealth by or for the polis—and, as a result, highlights that taxes, liturgies, loans, gifts, subscriptions, and foundations may be seen, from the city's perspective, as alternative means to the same end. Through case studies of several well-documented Hellenistic sites, it is possible to demonstrate that these various economic arrangements between individuals and poleis were indeed used side by side and to examine when and why different cities sought to draw on private wealth in these various ways.


Maddalena Scarperi

Life and Social Encounters at Metapontum: A Multi-Scalar, Postcolonial, and Gender-based Approach
My dissertation examines from a multi-scalar, post-colonial, and gender-based perspective the lives and social encounters of local dwellers in the Metapontine plain (Southern Italy) in the archaic and classical period. The core questions I investigate in this project are the following: 1. How do the discursive representations of reality attested by the textual evidence relate to the actual, messy processes in the making traceable in the material evidence? Which and whose experiences are marginalized, silenced, erased in those narratives? 2. To which extent can experiences marginalized/erased/silenced in the archive be retrieved and recentered through a postcolonial rereading of the extant evidence, both textual and material? In asking the latter question, I am especially interested in investigating the experiences of women in the local communities and the roles they played in negotiating social encounters in the Metapontine plain and the surrounding area in historical times.