Letter from the Director

We are now past the halfway point of an academic year that has tested ISAW's community. The continuing pandemic keeps most of us physically remote from our wonderful building and from each other, and as restrictions on travel and hampered access to ISAW's library and other resources are obstacles in the way of our teaching and research productivity. This issue of the ISAW Newsletter is above all a showcase of our resilience; reading the articles inspires me with confidence that, as the end of this ghastly global ordeal glimmers ahead of us, our institute will bounce back and our meeting spaces and galleries will once again be home for lively and productive intellectual exchanges.

As we wait for this to happen, we are meanwhile getting very good at keeping in touch with each other and the wider world through online resources. This extends not only to the digital classroom, but to digital academic and public events such as the upcoming Leon Levy and Rostovtzeff Lectures, in which the loss of in-person contact will be amply compensated by a global reach, with participants and audiences interacting on an equal basis from distant continents. We are beginning to ask ourselves whether some of these modes of online communication, adopted for the present emergency, may continue to be useful resources in the long run. Though our archaeological projects have been hit especially hard, through collaborative international teamwork with colleagues abroad it was possible in the Fall to conduct somewhat reduced but valuable field seasons in Turkey and Uzbekistan.

We share with our exhibitions team great excitement on the opening of our first-ever exhibition to have been conceived from the outset for online presentation. The Empire's Physician: Prosperity, Plague, and Healing in Ancient Rome takes the remarkable, well-documented career and larger-than-life personality of the Greek doctor Galen of Pergamon as a springboard for exploring health, medicine, and society in the Roman Empire in time when its power, wealth and security were at their height, but also in a time when the Mediterranean region was ravaged by pandemic and Rome experienced calamitous fire.

We hope the ability to share an ISAW exhibition with a wider audience without the need to travel to New York will be as much a benefit of the present circumstance as the online medium has been for the hundreds who have participated in our Fall ISAW lectures, far beyond our building's physical capacity.