ISAW Alumna Irene Soto Marín Featured in The Harvard Gazette

By Lily Wichert

Irene Soto Marín – an Institute for the Study of the Ancient World alumna – joined Harvard University as an assistant professor of classics in July. She was recently interviewed by The Harvard Gazette following her appointment to the position. 

 In the article, Soto Marín explains her areas of study, including ancient economies, trade, taxation, and production, specifically of Late Antique Egypt. Soto Marín explains that numismatics– the study of coins– is a particularly fascinating area of her research. She examines coins as a form of currency, paying special attention to how this changed in relation to historical events in the ancient world. Soto Marín’s work reveals information relevant to understanding the full picture of the ancient world. “One individual coin is not going to give you much information,” Soto Marín said. “But when you look at them in patterns, and as a series, you start seeing clues about what the monetary economy was like.”

 As a papyrologist, she particularly enjoys the preserved scraps that survive of ancient writing and how they reveal details of daily and personal life from the Late Roman Period. Documentation following ancient life was noted on papyrus, including letters, grocery lists, and quick notes similar to our practices in contemporary society. Soto Marín explains that this connection between antiquity and current civilization is comforting: “It’s this sense that humans are still humans,” she said. 

 Soto Marín received her master’s and graduate degrees from ISAW in 2018. While at ISAW, she completed her dissertation titled The Economic Integration of a Late Roman Province: Egypt from Diocletian to Anastasius. Prior to this, she attended Barnard University for her undergraduate degree in ancient studies and anthropology.

Soto Marín additionally shares her exciting upcoming plans for her academic work. She will lead her first dig as she co-directs an excavation at Karanis, an ancient Greco-Roman village located at Faiyum Oasis in Egypt. To read more about Soto Marín’s academic interests, click here for an article by The Harvard Gazette.