UPavia-ISAW Conference on Phrygia: Call for Papers

By Hannah McDonald


A joint conference of UNIPV and ISAW-NYU

Pavia, Italy – April 7th-9th, 2022

Call for Papers

The question of the definition of contrastive identities between the East and the West has always been central to understanding the Mediterranean, the European, and, today also, the Atlantic world. In the reassessment of the values and fundaments of a new, diverse, and inclusive society, the legacy of the Greco-Roman world on western political identity as ‘the exemplum’ is under scrutiny. The discussion, often led by non-experts, however, involves a too simplistic understanding of the ancient Mediterranean, in general, and of the Greco-Roman experience, in particular. The challenge for ancient historians and archaeologists is to promote a vision of the ancient Mediterranean with all of its rich complexity and diversity in the broader context of the ancient world. In order to make space for a different understanding of the ancient Mediterranean trajectory, this conference focuses on Phrygia, a region of northwestern, inner Anatolia, which represented a borderland between the East and the West for the entire 1st millennium BCE. The conference even aims to bring a conjecture to discussion: whether it was Phrygia, well before the expansion of the Achaemenid Empire towards the west, that promoted contrastive identities between the East and the West already during the 8th century BCE. The aim is also to investigate how the several elements of diversity characterizing this borderland were received and elaborated in contemporary and later societies of the Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds.

New research and the new chronology of the Destruction Level at the Phrygian capital of Yassı Höyük-Gordion have resulted in a backdating of about 250 years for the formation of a Phrygian kingdom. This has considerable consequences in the historical, art historical, technological, and cultural spheres. The publication of a profound revision of the archaeological datum of the capital of a kingdom – located between the Aegean and Mediterranean worlds on one side, and the Anatolian, Assyrian, and Levantine worlds on the other – has begun to receive attention in individual studies related to specific themes. However, a reflection on the archaic formation of this kingdom and the political and ethnic identities that defined it still require new investigations; equally, a study of the impact of this polity as a middle ground entity between two areas that were beginning a process of progressive definition of opposition needs new reflection. Reception and integration of the Phrygian legacy in the Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman world is also considered a central part of the discussion of the Phrygian identity, both in its developments locally in the Anatolian Plateau, and elsewhere.

With this intent the Department of Humanities of the University of Pavia in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World of New York University are organizing a conference in Pavia on April 7-9, 2022. This collaborative conference aims to bring together experts and young scholars to discuss the themes presented above which emerged from the homonymous joint UNIPV – ISAW graduate seminar of Spring 2021: "Phrygia between the East and the West".

The conference will be divided into four sections. For each section, key speakers who have already agreed to present their papers are as follows:

1) Power and Identity
L. d'Alfonso, ISAW-NYU & UNIPV; Ch.B. Rose, U-Penn

2) Technology, Trade, and Communication Routes
M. Harari, UNIPV; M. Işıklı, Ataturk University Erzurum; A. Kotsonas, ISAW-NYU

3) Writings and Literature in the Early 1st Millennium BCE
P. Goedegebuure, Oriental Institute, Uni-Chicago; N. Luraghi, Oxford University

4) Memory and Reception in Greco-Roman Times
G. Semeraro, Uni-Salento; Y. Senyurt, Gazi University Ankara

With this call for papers, we full-heartedly invite interested scholars to submit a preliminary title, short abstract (~250 words), and preferred session to Nathan Lovejoy (ncl291@nyu.edu) and Annarita Bonfanti (annaritastefan.bonfanti01@universitadipavia.it) no later than Sunday, October 31st, 2021. Selection of contributions will be based on relevance to the themes of the sections and originality of the contribution as inferred from the abstract. Priority will be given in each section to contributions from PhD students and early career researchers. To promote discussion, papers should aim to be about 25 minutes, leaving time for 5 minutes of questions. Additional discussion periods will follow each thematic section.

The conference will be primarily in-person, but we intend to livestream the event through the Digital Hammurabi and Save Ancient Studies media platforms to allow for a larger online audience. Scholars who will not be able to travel to Pavia are still encouraged to submit an abstract – a small number of remote participants may be accepted where their topic appears to be particularly relevant or innovative. Additionally, we are attempting to collect funds to support a few small scholarships to enable the participation of junior scholars without institutional funding for travel/research.

The conference format remains subject to change based on local and international COVID-19 restrictions. A confirmation, or any changes, will be disseminated in January 2022.

Inquiries may be directed to the co-organizers:

Annarita Bonfanti (annaritastefan.bonfanti01@universitadipavia.it)

Lorenzo d’Alfonso (lda5@nyu.edu)

Nathan Lovejoy (ncl291@nyu.edu)

Alessio Mantovan (alessio.mantovan84@gmail.com)

Ryan Henry Schnell (rhs399@nyu.edu)

Learn more here: https://studiumanistici.unipv.it/?pagina=news&id=18009