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09/29/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Death and Taxes?

Economy, Society and the Imperial State in Babylonia in the Sixth Century BCE

Michael Jursa

In the first half of the sixth century BCE, Babylonia experienced rapid economic development and increasing prosperity. Focusing in particular on the role of resource extraction and distribution by the state, the lecture explores the causes that led to this "golden interval," as J. Maynard Keynes termed such rare breaks in the (supposed) monotony of pre-industrial economic development. The talk will also look at how the changes in the core area of the Babylonian empire are reflected in its periphery, and it will investigate the consequences of increasing prosperity for social cohesion within Babylonia.
09/30/2016 10:00 AM ISAW Lecture Hall

DAY ONE: The Mechanics of Extraction: Comparing Principles of Taxation and Tax Compliance in the Ancient World

Workshop organized by Irene Soto (ISAW PhD Student) and Jonathan Valk (ISAW PhD Student)

The exercise of power depends on the ability of governing structures to collect and reallocate resources—be they in the form of currency, labor, agricultural produce, raw materials, or processed goods. Systems of taxation are the basis for the collection of resources and the generation of revenue. Today, such systems are ubiquitous, embedded in the socio-political structures associated with the modern state. While there are ongoing arguments about who should be taxed and precisely how much, there nevertheless exists a widespread recognition of a social contract, whereby the state enjoys widespread tax compliance in return for the provision of a variety of services. To what extent is this true for ancient societies? Ancient polities often diverge in many important respects from modern states—not least in the practical tools at their disposal when assessing the availability of resources or enforcing tax compliance.
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10/01/2016 10:00 AM ISAW Lecture Hall

DAY TWO: The Mechanics of Extraction: Comparing Principles of Taxation and Tax Compliance in the Ancient World

Workshop organized by Irene Soto (ISAW PhD Student) and Jonathan Valk (ISAW PhD Student)

The exercise of power depends on the ability of governing structures to collect and reallocate resources—be they in the form of currency, labor, agricultural produce, raw materials, or processed goods. Systems of taxation are the basis for the collection of resources and the generation of revenue. Today, such systems are ubiquitous, embedded in the socio-political structures associated with the modern state. While there are ongoing arguments about who should be taxed and precisely how much, there nevertheless exists a widespread recognition of a social contract, whereby the state enjoys widespread tax compliance in return for the provision of a variety of services. To what extent is this true for ancient societies? Ancient polities often diverge in many important respects from modern states—not least in the practical tools at their disposal when assessing the availability of resources or enforcing tax compliance.
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10/06/2016 06:30 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

AIA Lecture: Columbia University's Excavation Project at the Sanctuary of Poseidon at Onchestos, Boeotia

Ioannis Mylonopoulos

In the summer of 2014, Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology initiated, under the auspices of The Athens Archaeological Society, the excavation of the sanctuary of Poseidon at Onchestos, the seat of the Boeotian Confederacy and one of the few Greek sacred places mentioned in the Iliad. The excavation has focused on two large areas (Site A: 0.6 ha; Site B: 1.03 ha) between Thebes and Haliartos. The excavation has already yielded a rich array of finds: vases and vase-fragments (several bearing graffiti), countless bronze objects (including several strigils), bronze and silver coins, weapons (among them a fully preserved sword), objects associated with horse- and chariot races, and many architectural elements (including several architectural terracottas bearing floral and abstract decoration in black, white, and red color on a beige background; fragments of Ionic columns; two Ionic corner capitals). After only three years of excavation, the questions are still far more numerous than the answers, but we can securely state that the site was one of the major sanctuaries of Central Greece.
10/24/2016 12:00 PM ISAW - 15 East 84th Street

Prospective Student Open House

ISAW's open house for prospective doctoral students will include lunch and tea with ISAW students, faculty, and scholars; an information session about our academic program; a tour of ISAW and the ISAW Library; a Q&A session with current students; and an opportunity to attend an ISAW seminar taught by Prof. Lorenzo d'Alfonso and Prof. Roderick Campbell.
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10/24/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Terrace House 2 in Ephesos

Reconsidering Daily Life in the 3rd Century AD

Sabine Ladstätter

Terrace House 2 is a ca. 4,000 m² insula lying directly in the Roman city centre of Ephesus. Due to its exceptional state of preservation the complex counts amongst the most scientifically important and moreover most remarkable monuments of its type. The special state of preservation results in the fact that the structure not only allows a classification and analysis based on ground plan, chronology and history of style, but also represents an almost inexhaustible source for the material culture of the Roman period, for multiple analyses in the study of domestic architecture. In addition to its undisputed scientific relevance, Terrace House 2 also represents a great challenge in terms of restoration.
10/25/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Decrepit Rome, your morals disintegrate, your walls collapse!

Critique of Rome in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

Maya Maskarinec

This talk will address the persistent late antique and early medieval hagiographical and historiographical perception of Rome as a city too burdened by its monumental pagan and imperial past and worldly distractions to be a sacred city. The title, “Decrepit Rome, your morals disintegrate, your walls collapse!” is a loose translation of the line “moribus et muris, Roma vetusta, caedes,” from a satirical poem arguably dating to the late 9th century, the so-called Versus Romae. The poem is unusual for its vehemence, but, as this talk will demonstrate, the complaints against the city of Rome it expresses were deep-seated.
10/28/2016 09:30 AM ISAW Lecture Hall

Hic Sunt Dracones: Creating, Defining, and Abstracting Place in the Ancient World

Workshop organized by Gina Konstantopoulos (ISAW Visiting Assistant Professor)

Borders, frontiers, and the lands beyond them were created, defined, and maintained through a variety of physical, geographical, and moreover, social and cultural means in the ancient Near East, Biblical World, and the ancient Mediterranean. While the first two definitions were most often enforced through open military conflict, the maintenance of forts or frontier territories, or the more fluid existence of trading networks, these real encounters interacted with a tradition of fictionalizing foreign locations, as well as inventing new and distant lands entirely. This workshop is principally concerned with this process of creating and sensationalizing, to a degree, distant lands in the ancient world, and the ways by which these spaces were represented in literary, religious, and economic texts, as well as being depicted artistically. This process of "othering" foreign lands, as well as those who lived there, speaks to the ways in which the separate civilizations of the ancient world each constructed their own mental maps of the world around them, and created points of both contact and conflict when those mental maps intersected with each other.
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11/03/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Tenth Annual Leon Levy Lecture: A People Without a Name or, Who Were the Hittites?

Theo van den Hout

Whereas the civilizations of the Assyrians and Babylonians in Mesopotamia and that of Egypt never faded from memory, knowledge of the Hittites was almost fully erased after the collapse of their kingdom around 1200 BC. In the now one-hundred-year-old resurrection of Hittite culture and society that followed the decipherment of the Hittite language in 1915, they were largely cast in the image of Mesopotamian civilization, especially where Hittite sources remain less eloquent or even silent. But is this always justified? Are we at liberty to assume entire text genres and social systems just because others had them? What would Hittite society look like without them?
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11/10/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Exhibition Lecture: Ancient Sundials

Art, Technology, and Culture

James Evans

Nearly six hundred sundials are preserved from ancient Greek and Roman times. This richly illustrated lecture will explore the styles, uses, and significance of ancient sundials and their relevance historically and in context to our modern understanding of time.
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11/15/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Fruits of the Silk Road

The Spread of Agriculture through Central Asia

Robert Spengler

The Silk Road was the largest commerce network of the ancient world; it linked the disparate ends of the vast Eurasian supercontinent and in doing so connected the imperial centers of East and Southwest Asia. While organized trade, including military outposts and government taxation, along the Silk Road dates back to the Han dynasty in the second century B.C., the exchange of goods, ideas, cultural practice, and genes, through the thousands of kilometers of desert and mountainous expanses comprising this region dates back to the third millennium B.C. This flow of cultural traits through Central Asia during the past four and a half millennia was a major driving force in the development of cultures across the Old World and shaped cuisines around the globe.
11/29/2016 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Late Antiquity in Early Modernity

Debating the End of the Roman World in the Centuries Before Gibbon

Frederic Clark

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