ISAW News Blog
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ISAW is pleased to announce the appointment of Fiona Kidd (ISAW Visiting Research Scholar 2011-12) as Assistant Curator in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning September 4, 2012.
For the past year Dr. Kidd has been working at ISAW on her research project, Beyond the Boundaries: Identifying Exchange Relations in Central Asian Visual Art Based on the Akchakhan-kala ‘Portraits’, and presented a lecture on the topic as part of the ISAW Visiting Research Scholar Lecture Series in March 2012.
Dr. Kidd received her PhD in Central Asian Archaeology at the University of Sydney in 2005 with a dissertation entitled The Samarkand region of Sogdiana: figurines, costume and identity; 2nd-1st century BCE – 8th century CE. Since 2008 she has held an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Syndey where she was working on ancient Central Asian wall painting, specifically Chorasmian mural art. She has published articles and book chapters and has several forthcoming and in-preparation publications, including her first monograph on Central Asia. She is also currently working with ISAW Professor Sören Stark as co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Central Asian Archaeology. Since 1997 she has been involved in several fieldwork projects in Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Syria.
We are excited that Dr. Kidd will be working at such a distinguished institution so near to ISAW and look forward to her continued involvement in the ISAW community in the coming years.
Terracotta stamp from Alezio, now in the Museo Archeologico Provinciale 'S. Castromediano', Lecce. Photo by Dan Diffendale. cc-by-sa
Newly added to the Ancient World Image Bank group photo pool on Flickr:
- Site photos of Marea in Egypt by Iris Fernandez (via the isawnyu account on Flickr)
- Artifact photos from Alezio in Italy by AWIB collaborator Dan Diffendale (via his own Flickr account)
There is more information (and more photos!) on the Ancient World Image Bank page.
On the 17th of July, the American Numismatic Society announced the launch of Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE), a major new tool to aid in the identification, research and cataloging of the coins of the ancient world. Produced in collaboration with ISAW, OCRE presents, in an easily searchable form, all the varieties of the coinage issued by the emperors of ancient Rome. The initial phase covers the coinage of the first emperors, from Augustus to Hadrian (27 BC – AD 138).
ANS database developer Ethan Gruber, who built OCRE, explains how it has been designed from the beginning to use a Linked Data approach to deliver added functionality:
OCRE is built on Numishare, an open source suite of applications for managing and publishing numismatic collections on the web. The underlying data model of the collection is the Numismatic Description Standard (NUDS), a linked data-influenced XML ontology for coins. NUDS enables the linking of coin types in OCRE to numismatic concepts represented on Nomisma.org as well as linking to web resources that describe physical specimens, such as those in the ANS' own collection. Data about these specimens–images, weights, findspots–can be extracted for statistical and geographic analyses in OCRE.
OCRE linked data is published in a standard format specified by the Pelagios project, which means that other websites -- like ISAW's collaborative geographic database Pleiades -- can automatically link to all the coins found or minted at a particular location. See, for example, the Pleiades place resource for Emerita Augusta (modern Merida, Spain), where you will find a link to 15 coins minted at Emerita Augusta in the right-hand column, under the subheading "Pelagios Annotations from Online Coins of the Roman Empire."
OCRE is a leap forward for the numismatists, historians and archaeologists alike. Until now, any research into Roman imperial coinage had to rely on paper-based catalogues, online auctions or the very few collections available online. OCRE offers a single central online catalogue that allows users to view download and organize digitized information that aims at covering the entire history of the Roman imperial coinage. The attraction of OCRE is that it is built as an open system. Any significant public or private collection may now link itself to OCRE and make its coins available to the wider public. Coin types will be connected to a growing number of examples from an ever-expanding number of sources. The digitized availability of relevant information like weights, modules, materials, legends, images, issuers, mints, location of find, and finally pictures, opens vast fields of research in many different directions and will hopefully inspire other areas in numismatics and beyond.
Twenty new, open-access images have been added to the Ancient World Image Bank.
These photographs of the Serapeum of Alexandria, taken by AWIB's managing editor Iris Fernandez, can be viewed online and downloaded via ISAW's Flickr account. They are also featured in our collaborative Ancient World Image Bank group.
Users of the Pleiades website -- our joint geographical project with the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carollna -- will find that these images, along with many others, are linked from the Pleiades "place page" for Alexandria.
The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Daniel T. Potts as Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and History, effective January 2013. Dr. Potts comes to us from the University of Sydney where he was Edwin Cuthbert Hall Chair of Middle Eastern Archaeology for over twenty years. Dr. Potts received his PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology from Harvard University in 1980 and then taught at the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Copenhagen, where he completed his Habilitation in 1991.
Although his research interests are wide-ranging, the majority of his scholarly work has focused on the cultural developments in Iran, Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as relations between these regions and their neighbors. Chronologically his span is far-reaching; from the Neolithic to late antiquity, but his main focus has been on the transition from pre-history to the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia and Iran, especially the 3rd millennium BCE.
Dr. Potts has led and participated in numerous excavation projects in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. He is the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Arabian Archaeology & Epigraphy, a Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He is he author of the books In the Land of the Emirates: The Archaeology and History of the UAE (2012), Mesopotamia, Iran and Arabia from the Seleucids to the Sasanians (2010), Mesopotamian Civilization: The material foundations (1997), and The Archaeology of Elam (1999), among others, and has authored and edited a vast number of other books, volumes, chapters, and articles. Most recently he was the editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Iranian Archaeology (2013).
Dr. Potts will begin offering seminars in the Spring 2013 semester. Please join us in welcoming him into the ISAW community.
ISAW is pleased to announce the research scholar roster for 2012-13. In addition to working on the listed research project, each scholar will participate in ISAW seminars and present a public lecture. Please join us in welcoming them to our community this fall!
One-year Visiting Research Scholars:
Victor Alonso Troncoso (University of Corunna) - Spring 2013
The Zoology of Kingship in the Hellenistic Age: From Alexander the Great to the Epigonoi (336 - c.250BC)
Jan Bremmer (Emeritus, University of Groningen)
The Ancient Mysteries: A History
Tosha Dupras (University of Central Florida)
Bioarchaeological Analyses of the Kellis 2 Cemetery Population in the Dakhleh Oasis, Egypt: Reconstructing Life Histories
Dorota Dzierzbicka (PhD, University of Warsaw)
Wine Consumption in Graeco-Roman Egypt: Cultural Transformation and Economic Change
Michael Frachetti (Washington University, St. Louis)
Ancient Inner Asia and the Pulse of Stateless Civilization
Hallie Franks (New York University, Gallatin School)
Traveling the World, in Theory: Metaphor and Movement in Greek Architecture
Richard Payne (Mount Holyoke College)
"States of Mixture": Cosmology, Irreligion, and Society in the Iranian Empire, 224-636 CE
Marja Vierros (PhD, University of Helsinki)
SEMATIA: Linguistic Annotation of the Greek Documentary Papyri? Detecting and determining contact-induced dialectal and stylistic variation in the Greek papyri
Li Zhang (PhD, Peking University)
Wind from the West: Early China and Eurasian Interactions
Two-year Visiting Assistant Professors
Emily Hammer (PhD, Harvard)
Dynamics of Settlement and Transhumance in Agricultural Peripheries on the Fringes of Ancient Mesopotamia
George Hatke (PhD, Princeton) - continuing
Africans in Arabia Felix: Relations between Ethiopia and South Arabia in Late Antiquity
Sarah Laursen (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) - continuing
Unearthing the Ancient Craft: The Art of Goldsmithing in Early Medieval China
Mathieu Ossendrijver, one of ISAW's visiting research scholars in 2010-11, has published a new book entitled Babylonian Mathematical Astronomy: Procedure Texts, part of the Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences series from Springer. The book contains a new analysis of the procedure texts of Babylonian mathematical astronomy. These cuneiform tablets, excavated in Babylon and Uruk and dating from 350-50 BCE, contain computational instructions that represent the earliest known form of mathematical astronomy of the ancient world. The book includes new translations of all 108 available tablets accompanied by commentaries and color photographs of the tablets. The preceding chapters are devoted to documentary, lexical, semantic, mathematical and astronomical aspects of the procedure texts. Special attention is given to issues of mathematical representation, a topic that had previously been largely ignored. Mathematical concepts are presented in a didactic fashion, setting out from the most elementary ones (numbers and elementary operations) to more complex ones (algorithms and computational systems). Chapters devoted to the planets and the Moon contain updated and expanded reconstructions and astronomical interpretations of the algorithms.
Melik Kaylan writes in the Wall Street Journal for 1 May 2012 concerning ISAW's Nomads and Networks exhibition, as follows:
As the world shrinks, one is increasingly grateful for glimpses of cultures, farflung in time or place, that stir up one's inner Tintin or Conan Doyle with a sense of irreducible mystery. The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) seems dedicated to bringing us just such glimpses—in the most scholarly way, of course, it being a branch of New York University. The Institute's whimsically old-world setting accentuates the feeling of discovery.
You walk into a repurposed townhouse—externally discreet, internally grand—just off upper Fifth Avenue and find a wholly unimaginable experience, an encounter, say, with 3000 B.C. Nubia or with Danube Valley relics from 5000 B.C. (two shows from recent years). The current show, "Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan," couldn't be more splendidly esoteric, focusing as it does on that most perennially opaque of the earth's remote regions, the vast steppe-lands of Eurasia...
His research interests include relationships between visual forms (architecture, bronze vessels, pictorial carvings and murals, etc.) and ritual, social memory, and political discourses in early Chinese art. He also serves as Director for the Center for the Art of East Asia and Consulting Curator at the Smart Museum of Art.
Election to the APS honors extraordinary achievements in all fields, representing leading scholars in a wide variety of academic disciplines representing over 24 countries. Founded by Benjamin Franklin and based in Philadelphia, the Society accepts nominations for membership only from Resident members of the APS. More information can be found at http://www.amphilsoc.org/about.
Anne Porter, one of ISAW's visiting research scholars in 2007-08, has announced the publication of her new book, Mobile Pastoralism and the Formation of Near Eastern Civilizations, by Cambridge University Press. Much of the research was undertaken during Dr. Porter's time at ISAW. The book argues that mobile and sedentary populations were not fundamentally separate groups, but formed integral parts of the same polities throughout greater Mesopotamia during the period 4000 to 1500 BCE. She draws on a wide range of archaeological and cuneiform sources to show how networks of social structure, political and religious ideology, and everyday as well as ritual practice, worked to maintain the integrity of those groups when the pursuit of different subsistence activities dispersed them over space. Dr. Porter also shows how these networks shaped many of the key events and innovations of the time, including the Uruk expansion and the introduction of writing, so-called secondary state formation and the organization and operation of government, the literary production of the Third Dynasty of Ur and the first stories of Gilgamesh, and the emergence of the Amorrites in the second millennium BCE.
The American Numismatic Society will open a new exhibition on Signs of Inflation at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York on March 30, 2012. Organized by Gilles Bransbourg, ANS Assistant Roman Curator and ISAW Research Associate, the exhibition displays a range of materials, including ancient coins, money-shells and banknotes, and examines the role of inflation from Imperial Rome to contemporary Zimbabwe. For more information, see the ANS website at
March 7 - June 3, 2012
Nomads and Networks is the first U.S. exhibition to provide a comprehensive overview of the fascinating nomadic culture of the peoples of eastern Kazakhstan’s Altai and Tianshan regions from roughly the eighth to first centuries bce. With over 250 objects on loan from Kazakhstan’s four national museums, the exhibition provides a compelling portrait that challenges the traditional view of these nomadic societies as less developed than sedentary ones.
Cambridge University Press has just published From the Ptolemies to the Romans: Political and economic change in Egypt, by Andrew Monson, Assistant Professor of Classics at NYU and an affiliated faculty member at ISAW.
In this book, Monson looks at the impact of the coming of Roman rule to Egypt, using theoretical perspectives from the social sciences as well as a reexamination of the extensive papyrological evidence to argue for a primary importance for fiscal reform as an agent of change.
The Spring 2012 issue of ISAW’s newsletter is now available. Issue 6 includes a preview of the Nomads and Networks exhibition, publications and research updates from the ISAW community, and event listings for Spring 2012 and beyond. To download an electronic copy of the newsletter, click here.
A joint Italian-American team is excavating Kinik Hoyuk, a pre-classical, intact site from the “forgotten kingdom of Tuwana” in southern Cappadocia, Turkey. This wealthy region once controlled the passage between Europe and Asia. The site will become an open-air museum. Recent press coverage includes:
Archaeological News http://archaeologicalnews.tumblr.com/post/17379036571
Historum: history discussion forum http://www.historum.com/ancient-history/38035-kingdom-tuwana-anatolia-has-been-found.html
Also published in La Stampa, on 13 Feb 2012, “Un antico regno sepolto”, p. 3 (not currently available online).
A long article in Italian and Turkish, authored by Prof. d'Alfonso and Dr. Mehmet Isikli, Dean of the Dept. of Archaeology at Erzurum University, is forthcoming in the journal Arkeoloji ve Sanat.
In a paper just published in the Journal for the History of Astronomy, Stašo Forenbaher (Institute for Anthropological Research, Zagreb) and Alexander Jones (ISAW) announce the discovery of ivory fragments of a Hellenistic astrologer's board in a part of a cave in southern Croatia that was sealed off towards the end of the first century BCE after having served as a cultic sanctuary. The board, which an astrologer would have used to display to his client the arrangement of heavenly bodies in a horoscope, is the oldest such object known to exist. It witnesses the rapid spread of Greek horoscopic astrology, which came into existence as a fusion of Mesopotamian and Egyptian astral divination with Greek cosmology probably not long before 100 BCE.
Nakovana Cave overlooks the Adriatic Sea from a ridge near the western tip of Pelješac Peninsula, 100 kilometers northwest of Dubrovnik. Some of the most important Adriatic sea-lines of antiquity pass through the channels below the cave. The Nakovana Project (directed by Timothy Kaiser and Stašo Forenbaher) began work at the cave in 1999, and towards the end of the field season a hitherto unknown extension of the cave was discovered. Fragments of pottery vessels were lying about, most of them Hellenistic finewares datable to the last four centuries BCE, evidently the accumulated remains from cult offerings. The ivory fragments were discovered among this material.
When complete, the board had twelve arc-shaped ivory plates forming a complete circle and representing the twelve signs of the zodiac. An astrologer would have displayed a horoscope by placing colored stones standing for the Sun, Moon, and planets in the places they occupied in the zodiac on a particular date, for example a client's birthdate. It is not clear whether the board was actually used where its remains were found in Nakovana cave or whether it was deposited there as a precious offering.
The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert G. Hoyland as Professor of Late Antique and Early Islamic Middle Eastern History.
Professor Hoyland studied early Islamic history at the University of Oxford where he earned his DPhil in 1994. Prior to coming to ISAW he was Professor of Islamic History at the University of Oxford. He also held previous positions at St. Andrews University and UCLA, and was both a Fulbright (Princeton University) and Erasmus scholar (Groningen University). His scholarly interests lie with the history, languages, and literature of the late antique and early Islamic Middle East, more specifically the relations between Muslims, Jews, and Christians, the links between identity, religion, and ethnicity, and the transmission of knowledge from the Ancient world to the Islamic world.
Prof. Hoyland is the author of Seeing Islam as Others Saw it: A survey and analysis of the Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian writings on Islam (1997), and Arabia and the Arabs from the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam (2001). His most recent books include Theophilus of Edessa’s Chronicle: and the Circulation of Historical Knowledge in Late Antiquity and Early Islam (2011) and Doctrine and Debate in the East Christian World, 300-1500 (with Averil Cameron, 2011). He is also a member of the editorial committee of the Library of Arabic Literature, which aims to establish a Loeb-style translation series for Arabic texts, to be published with NYU Press, and is involved in the Oxford excavation of Andarin, a Byzantine/Early Islamic town in Syria.
Please join us in welcoming Prof. Hoyland to our community this fall.
ISAW will host the Linked Ancient World Data Institute (LAWDI) from May 31st to June 2nd, 2012 in New York City. Applications are due 17 February 2012.
LAWDI, funded by the Office of Digital Humanities of the National Endowment for Humanities, will bring together an international faculty of practitioners working in the field of Linked Data with twenty attendees who are implementing or planning the creation of digital resources.
More information, including a list of faculty, and application instructions are available at the LAWDI page on the Digital Classicist wiki.
In recent days two of ISAW's flagship online resources — the Ancient World Image Bank and the Pleiades gazetteer — significantly advanced our mission to connect and contextualize information about the ancient world on the web. Photos posted by ISAW and other AWIB collaborators on the Flickr.com photo sharing website are now directly linked with Pleiades place resources and vice versa.
Many people have worked to make this a reality; the heavy lifting was done by Nate Nagy and Iris Fernandez on AWIB, Sean Gillies on Pleiades, and Daniel Bogan at Flickr. Their work makes it easy to feature thumbnails and lists of related images on individual Pleiades pages and to provide historical-geographic context to photos on Flickr.
You can read more about how all this works in two blog posts by Sean Gillies: one on the Pleiades News Blog and another (a guest blog post) on the Flickr Code Blog.
ISAW is happy to announce the launch of ISAW Papers, an open-content scholarly journal that publishes article-length works on any topic within the scope of ISAW's scholarly research. The first paper has just been published: "A New Discovery of a Component of Greek Astrology in Babylonian Tablets: The 'Terms'", by Alexander Jones and John M. Steele.