Department of ClassicsUniversity of Cincinnati
Department of Classics

2012 Graduate Student Paper Award

For the second year in a row, a UC Classics graduate student has won the Graduate Student Paper Award at the annual Archaeological Institute of America meetings, held this year in Phildelphia.

Allison Emmerson won for her paper titled: "Repopulating an "Abandoned" Suburb: The Case of Pompeii's Tombs." This paper re-examines the place of necropoli in roman society. Upon excavation many of the tombs in Pompeii were found to be surrounded by garbage: animal bones, charcoal, broken pottery and architectural material. The tombs also had a considerable amount of graffiti on them. The traditional view was that the necropoli were neglected areas of a city in decline between the AD 62 earthquake, and the destruction of the AD 79 eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius.


"We tend to assume things like that are universal, but attitudes toward sanitation are very culturally defined, and it looks like in Pompeii attitudes were very different than ours," said Allison. She compares the garbage found in the necropoli with the general state of garbage found inside the city walls. Her conclusions are that the patterns of graffiti, garbage, and overall use of space was very similar in the two spaces. 

Allison's paper has received a great deal of attention in the press including: 

See a short video summary of the presentation below.

This marks the second year in a row that a UC Classics student has won this award. Last year's winner was Natalie Abell who received her award during this year's banquet.

AIA Poster Contest

Our own Bice Peruzzi (left below) and Amanda Reiterman from Penn (right below) won the First Runner Up prize in the AIA poster contest for their work: "Learning from Their Mistakes: Try-Pieces, Wasters and Other Evidence for Ceramic Production from the Potters’ Quarter at Corinth."


The full poster can be viewed as a pdf here.

The American Philological Association will be awarding their Pre-Collegiate Teaching Award to Sherwin Little, a UC Classics alumni. Sherwin teaches Latin and Greek at the Indian Hill Exempted Village School District here in Cincinnati. 

A full profile of Sherwin is posted at the APA website.

Graduate student Allison Emmerson has published two articles recently on the necropolis outside of one of the main gates at Pompeii that are part of the PARP:PS field project run by Steven Ellis from our department. 

“Reconstructing the Funerary Landscape at Pompeii’s Porta Stabia” in Rivista di Studi Pompeiani 21 (2010), pp. 77-86.

As one of Pompeii’s most heavily trafficked gates, the Porta Stabia must have been a desirable and high-status location for burial, and the roads around the gate must have been lined with densely packed tombs. Presently, four tombs stand outside the Porta Stabia: the two well-known semicircular benches (schola tombs) just outside the gate, and two lesser-known tomb podia located to the south, hidden behind an embankment and concealed under overgrowth. This situation does not reflect the ancient reality. This article repopulates the burial landscape around the Porta Stabia by examining the standing tombs as well as the excavation reports of tombs that were reburied following their discovery, concluding that the extensive necropolis around the Porta Stabia is not something that must be imagined; rather, it is well-documented and worthy of a place in future scholarship.

"Evidence for Junian Latins in the Tombs of Pompeii?" in Journal of Roman Archaeology 24 (2011), pp. 160-190.

Junian Latins, former slaves who had been freed informally and therefore had not received Roman citizenship along with their manumission, existed in large numbers in both Italy and the provinces. Nevertheless, their lives and the ways in which their status differed from that of other freedmen remain little understood. This paper identifies fourteen tombs at Pompeii as belonging to Junian Latins, a group that has not previously been identified among the thousands of personal names preserved in the city's epigraphic record. The tombs suggest that Junian Latinity had an effect on social status: Junian Latins who were promoted to citizenship after manumission apparently held a higher status than other freedmen. Junian Latinity might also have impacted marriage patterns, with Junian Latins more likely to marry outside of their familiae. The distinction between Junian Latins and other freedmen at Pompeii points to the complexity of the Roman social system and ads a new dimension to the study of the Roman sub-elite.


Associate Professor Kathleen Lynch has published her first book titled The Symposium in Context: Pottery from a Late Archaic House near the Athenian Agora. This is the latest volme in the Hesperia Supplement series published by the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.

From the publisher:

This book presents the first well-preserved set of sympotic pottery which served a Late Archaic house in the Athenian Agora. The deposit contains household and fine-ware pottery, nearly all the figured pieces of which are forms associated with communal drinking. Since it comes from a single house, the pottery also reflects purchasing patterns and thematic preferences of the homeowner. The multifaceted approach adopted in this book shows that meaning and use are inherently related, and that through archaeology one can restore a context of use for a class of objects frequently studied in isolation.

You can read an interview with Dr. Lynch at the American School website and another one from McMicken College here at UC.

For Greek readers, there is an article about the book here.

Graduate student Jamie Fishman's paper "White Pepper and Black Salt: Food, Genre, and the Satiric Program in Horace’s Satires," has been accepted for Bryn Mawr College's Eighth Biennial Graduate Group Symposium.

Five members of our department have papers accepted for for Feminism & Classics VI at Brock University:
Anne Feltovich: "There are no Meretrices in Roman Comedy"
Holt Parker: "Uptight Romans: Crossing the Borders of Body and Space"
Susan Prince: "What Women Know according to Diogenes Laertius"
Eleanor Rust: "Wives of the Sophists: What’s at stake in reconstructing the lives of Pudentilla and Regilla."
Allison Sterrett-Krause: "Lepcis Magna's First (and Last) Female Benefactress"

Our own Margaret Sneeringer's MA thesis: "Economy and Identity in the Roman Cyclades" was chosen to represent UC in the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 2012 Distinguished Master's Thesis Competition Award.

The Interim Dean of the Graduate School said, "Your thesis serves as an excellent example of the high-quality research and thoughtful analysis produced by master's students at UC."

UC Classics will be well represented again at the Annual AIA/APA Conference in January.
The annual Archaeological Institute of America/American Philological Association meeting will have eleven speakers from UC Classics. The following papers will be presented:

Natalie Abell
"Cretan Connections in Middle Bronze Age Ayia Irini, Kea: An Analysis of Ceramic Shapes and Fabrics from Area B"

During the Middle and early Late Bronze Age, wide-ranging exchange networks linked Mainland Greece, the eastern Aegean, and the Cyclades, while contacts with Crete in particular had significant, long-term impacts on Cycladic societies.  At Ayia Irini, Cretan influences were most intense in the earlier LBA; they are evident in the local adoption of Minoanizing pottery types, weaving techniques, architectural features, drinking and dining practices, and religious imagery and/or ideology.

The acceptance of Minoanized practices is anticipated by a long history of trading partnerships between residents of Ayia Irini and Cretan people. Exposure to Cretan ways of doing things at Ayia Irini began with the importation of Cretan products in the earlier MBA, Period IV.  These early trade relationships, through which local people met and exchanged products and ideas with Cretan sailors, merchants, and perhaps craftspeople, created the necessary conditions according to which Cretan practices and ideas became appealing to local residents of Ayia Irini. 

Yet these early processes of interaction have been, for the most part, only partially explored.  One basic question is this:  with which Cretan center(s) were the people of Ayia Irini in contact, and did the same relationships continue to be dominant in the later MBA and LBA? 

Area B preserves well-stratified remains of Period IV, and can serve as a case study for considering the extent of Cretan contacts in the earlier MBA. An investigation of ceramic shapes, in addition to a macroscopic analysis of ceramic fabrics, has demonstrated that Minoan imported pottery found in Area B derives from multiple Cretan centers.  Knossian imports do not appear to outnumber those from other areas of Crete. 

Implications of this pattern affect interpretation of earlier MBA Keian and Cretan social dynamics.  On Kea, the variety of Cretan connections might be the result of local preferences in choosing which Cretan products and technologies to import and adopt, and from which groups of people.  On Crete, the fact that no palatial center dominated early MBA trade with Ayia Irini might suggest that no one center was capable of (or interested in) establishing exclusive access to Keian resources – particularly its connections with metal-rich areas like nearby Lavrion.  The emergence of Knossos as the cultural and perhaps political leader of Crete in the Neopalatial period may be reflected in the increased prominence of Knossos as a trading partner of Ayia Irini in the later MBA and LBA. 

Chris Cloke
"Nemean neighbors: reconstructing rural life through survey"

Finds of the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project (NVAP) illustrate how and to what extent ancient inhabitants farmed and exploited this land-locked and often politically marginal landscape in the southwestern Corinthia. Analyzing and contextualizing survey finds from the Archaic to Late Roman periods, this paper examines diachronic change in the Nemea Valley with particular attention to agriculture and related rural activities. Although games and cult brought intermittent attention and prosperity to the site of Nemea, the long-term success of nearby Corinth and Argos, and a thriving regional trade in the Late Roman period, allowed the countryside around Nemea to flourish. Through time, pressure put on the land to produce seems to have increased. Patterning of survey finds, particularly small sherds likely to have been included in domestic waste used as fertilizer, suggests that manuring was practiced in the Roman period. Numbers of rural sites peak in the Archaic, Classical, and Late Roman periods, with the latter showing strong signs of villa-based agriculture. The functional variety of on-site ceramic assemblages is used as an indicator of diverse activities, helping to distinguish cemeteries from rural shrines, and storage and processing sites from true farmsteads, which are less common among rural sites than many Greek surveys acknowledge. Bridging the gap between published results for the prehistoric and Byzantine periods, this study examines life in the backyard of Nemea and demonstrates continuity and even growth in agricultural exploitation during centuries when the sanctuary was inactive.

Flint Dibble
"Unpacking Construction Fill: Archaeological Formation Processes of Activity, Refuse, and Construction in an Urban Environment"

This paper aims to explore the range of relationships between movable finds and the seemingly associated architecturally defined spaces in which they occur.  The case studies are taken from the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia (University of Cincinnati), and are focused on ceramic assemblages recovered from stratified construction fills of cooking areas. Since the archaeological formation processes of urbanized sites like Pompeii are predominantly made up of discard entrained within construction related deposits, it is hoped that a systematic analysis of assemblages found within defined activity areas can reveal otherwise ambiguous relationships between activity, refuse, and construction patterns over time.

The assemblages from two areas with extant masonry cooking surfaces (installed in the final phase of Pompeian habitation) are compared to other excavated areas and analyzed by phase. Mann-Whitney U tests confirm that these two areas include a statistically significant high proportion of cooking ware sherds (by both count and weight) in comparison to other excavated areas of the site. While the proportion of cooking ware sherds was naturally not as high as that of an in situ refuse pit, the elevated proportion in these two areas suggests that refuse from local cooking activity was incorporated into construction fill of an ambiguous origin. Through analyzing the spatial relationships of artifacts, as well as elucidating the formation of the archaeological record over time (via activity, refuse, and construction), this approach to the study of movable finds from architecturally defined spaces demonstrates the value of studying construction fills and their assemblages.

Emily Egan
"A Bull Among the China? A Fragmentary Wheel-Made Figure from the Palace of Nestor"

The paucity of ceramic figurines from Blegen's excavations at the Palace of Nestor is remarkable, as is the apparent absence of large wheel-made figures of the type well known from the wider Mycenaean world. Recent re-examination of the finds from the Pylos megaron, however, has yielded two fragments that form the rump of a large wheel-made bovid.  The discovery of this fragmentary figure, the first of its kind known from Pylos, and in fact the whole of Messenia, prompts discussion about its date and place of production. More importantly, its unusual findspot in the core of a Mycenaean palace raises questions about the function of this figure at Pylos as compared with similar examples found in different contexts at other Mycenaean sites. This presentation addresses each of these issues, considering the object itself, its context, and evidence from textual sources, concluding that the bovid functioned as cult equipment for rituals performed by the wanax at the Pylian palace prior to its destruction. 

Steven Ellis
Response paper in the session: Placing Jordan in the Mediterranean 

Allison Emmerson
"Repopulating an "Abandoned" Suburb: The Case of Pompeii's Tombs"

When August Mau published the first tract of tombs found outside Pompeii’s Porta Nocera, he spoke of monuments that were broken and collapsed, with ancient refuse piled in and around them.  He determined that the necropolis was badly damaged in the earthquake of AD 62 and abandoned afterwards.  As more tombs were revealed outside Pompeii’s gates, the “abandoned” designation spread: in fact, at every necropolis tombs were found collapsed, ruined, and filled with garbage. The evidence seemed clear: in the last 17 years of life at Pompeii, the city was surrounded by deserted and crumbling tombs, used for little more than trash disposal.

This picture contributed to the prevailing 20th century idea that Pompeii was in decline after AD 62.  The theory held that what little wealth remained was devoted to more pragmatic measures than the maintenance of elaborate tombs.  More recent scholarship on the last years of Pompeii, however, has rejected the idea of decline, instead demonstrating a city in a period of rejuvenation. How can we reconcile the thriving city with an abandoned, refuse filled burial landscape?

This paper refutes the idea that Pompeii’s necropoleis were abandoned by focusing on three key reasons for the state of the tombs at their discovery.  Firstly and expectedly, much of the tombs’ ruined appearance can be attributed to the events of the eruption itself, a point unrecognized by the first excavators.  Post-eruption activity also has had an effect: destructive human interaction with the site seems to have begun almost immediately after the eruption and has continued into the modern period.  Most importantly, the presence of garbage in tomb precincts need not be attributed to abandonment, but to Roman attitudes towards funerary space.  Tombs in active commemorative use, although considered sacred to the spirits of the dead, were also a part of the dynamic zone of the suburbium.  As such, they were suitable for posting official notices, scratching graffiti, engaging in disreputable behavior, and even dumping garbage.  Rather than necropoleis in neglect, Pompeii’s tombs were centers of mixed activity, not least of which was continued funerary ritual up to the moment of the eruption.   

Jamie Fishman
"Virtuous Antithesis: Speech Patterns in Menander’s Dyskolos"

Modern scholars of New Comic language have generally echoed Plutarch’s assertion in A Comparison Between Aristophanes and Menander that, unlike Aristophanes, Menander artfully weaves variations of syntax into a crafted, polished whole. Sandbach’s treatment (1970) of Menander’s linguistic zeal remains the seminal work in this area. It traces not only the syntactical aberrations which reflect a character’s age, ethnicity, and status, but also those which reflect the persona’s character. Despite his achievements in this area, Sandbach leaves much room for additional analysis, as for instance in understanding the antithetical speech pattern of Gorgias, a poor, rustic youth in the Dyskolos. Whereas Sandbach asserts that Gorgias’ ability to speak like an orator is merely a function of his copious free time, I contend that, despite age and social status, Gorgias’ oratorical speech patterns indicate his innate virtue— a habituated state best understood in light of Aristotle’s comments on character and persuasion in the Rhetoric. Therefore the present paper stresses the union between ἔργον and λόγος in Gorgias’ character. After establishing his virtuous behavior with his congruence to Aristotle’s prime of age man (1390a-b), I argue how Gorgias reaffirms this virtue by mapping his antithetical speech pattern onto the triad of persuasive speech (1378a), Aristotle’s assessment of the qualities most necessary for persuasive oratory.

Aristotle defines the prime of age man with language akin to the excess, deficiency, and mean of moral virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics. When the prime of age man exhibits propriety in age, trust, and courage, and shows a willingness to act in accordance with what is fitting, he attains a virtuous mean. In the Dyskolos, the presence of notoriously old and youthful characters like Knemon and Sostratos provide a pointed contrast to Gorgias and allow him to subtract the excesses from their personalities and achieve a mean between them. Menander introduces this idea in the prologue when Pan states that Gorgias is a responsible young man, wise beyond his years. His actions throughout the play support this assertion: after an initial outburst of cynicism in the vein of his stepfather Knemon, Gorgias learns to trust Sostratos, whom he eventually accepts as a friend; with quiet courage Gorgias unflinchingly rescues his step-father Knemon from the well; and Gorgias cites his devotion to his modest farm to explain why he has not fallen in love.  

Given his virtuous behavior, it is fitting that each of Gorgias’ antithetical speech constructions includes a component of Aristotle’s triad of persuasion:  practical wisdom(φρόνησις), virtue (ἀρετή), and goodwill (εὔνοια). Yet contrasted with his many virtuous antitheses is his lengthy moralizing speech to Sostratos. It is generally agreed that Gorgias fails to persuade Sostratos of his guilt because he unsuccessfully mimics what he thinks a wealthy man like Sostratos would want to hear (Arnott 1981; Gomme and Sandbach 1973; Rosivach 2001). However, none of these authors treat the failed speech in light of Gorgias’ innate antithetical speech patterns elsewhere in the play. I argue instead that his failed speech to Sostratos also shows a lack of virtue, and therefore I treat Gorgias’ speech patterns in terms of his virtuous character for its own sake, rather than as a contrast to other characters.

It is difficult to argue conclusively for an outright relationship between Menander’s plays and the Peripatetic school; however, several authors have indicated the likelihood of the connection (e.g., Barigazzi 1965; Webster 1960). My reading of theDyskolos draws on this probability and promotes Peripatetic virtue, in addition to age, status, or education, as another lens through which to judge speech patterns in ancient comedy.

Jody Gordon
Colloquium: “Cyprus Capta: New Approaches to the Archaeology of Empire in Ptolemaic and Roman Cyprus”

Eleni Hatzaki
"Urban transformations: the Little Palace North Project and the cityscapes of Late Bronze Age Knossos"

This paper presents the results of the Little Palace North Project (LPN), a two-season excavation aimed to provide a diachronic picture of urban activities in the core elite sector of urban Late Bronze Age Knossos.

The emerging picture from combining new and old excavation data suggests that the urban landscape of Knossos underwent various drastic changes in the Neopalatial, Final Palatial and Postpalatial periods. This analysis, therefore, challenges Arthur Evans’s vision of an unaltered urban layout for Late Bronze Age Knossos (regularly used as a pan-Cretan model) and prompts the re-examination of urban development in other Cretan settlements with long and complex occupation sequences.

Bice Peruzzi and Amanda Reiterman
Poster: " Learning from Their Mistakes: Try-Pieces, Wasters and Other Evidence for Ceramic Production from the Potters’ Quarter at Corinth"

Material from the Potters’ Quarter at Corinth offers a hitherto untapped resource to aid in modeling the initial (manufacturing) phase of the pottery life cycle in Archaic Greece. Drawing upon the paradigm outlined by J. Theodore Peña for Roman pottery (Roman Pottery in the Archaeological Record [Cambridge 2007]),this poster presents preliminary findings from our ongoing project of examining and documenting the Potters’ Quarter’s try-pieces, ceramic wasters, misfires, and other vestiges of the production process, which have yet to be considered as a complete corpus. Some were published in Stillwell and Benson’s Corinth XV volume of 1986, while a number of specimens have remained unstudied in the Corinth storerooms since the time of their excavation in the 1930’s. These imperfect or unfinished ceramics from the potters’ dumps provide snapshots of transitory stages in the chain of production, capturing information about Middle Corinthian ceramic methods and technology, which generally is not preserved on the finished pots that went to market. Such insights include the order of painting a vessel’s sides, the types of pots stacked together in a kiln, and the moments when failures occurred most often. In addition, several unusual examples of repair and reuse offer rare glimpses into the decisions made in response to mishaps. These instances of adjustments executed mid-process reveal that experimentation was a regular part of the workshops’ procedures. They serve as reminders that, although Corinthian Orientalizing pottery was distributed throughout the Mediterranean in large quantities, it was, in fact, the product of an imperfect science. Breaking down the manufacturing phase of the pottery life cycle into its constituent parts allows us to recognize the creative solutions developed by potters at each step as they confronted the vicissitudes of their craft and conditions. These challenges had the potential to become the wellsprings of innovation. 

Allison Sterrett-Krause
"Messages and Meanings in the First-Century Forum of Thugga in Africa Proconsularis"

In this paper, I argue that none of the three first-century benefactors who donated buildings in the forum at Thugga in Africa Proconsularis set out to create a “Roman”-style forum. Instead, each pursued his own goals through his construction projects, seeking to aggrandize his personal reputation and that of his heirs, and to respond to the messages inherent in earlier donated buildings. Though the donation of each benefactor communicates an individual message, those works viewed as a whole convey a connection with Roman Carthage and with Rome itself. This message of Roman identity is, however, a by-product of the efforts of each individual benefactor.

The forum at Thugga, a small city in the hinterland of Carthage, saw intensive building activity in the early first century C.E. At least three donors constructed buildings in the space at their own expense, including two temples, monuments to the imperial cult, and arches marking the entry to the forum. Examination of both archaeological and epigraphic remains underscores the piecemeal nature of the first-century development at the forum and shows that the developing Roman identity displayed there was an unintended consequence of the benefactors’ other concerns. Their projects display clearly that the donors were especially concerned with promoting themselves as patrons of the city, establishing a family tradition of benefaction, and participating in the political life of Roman Carthage.

Thugga has long been cited as an example of “Romanization,” in which Roman culture came gradually to replace the previous Punico-Numidian cultural practices (e.g., T.R.S. Broughton, The Romanization of Africa Proconsularis [Baltimore 1929]). The problems with this analytical model are well known (for a succinct summary and bibliography, see J. Crawley Quinn in ‘Romanization’? Digressus Supplement 1 [2003], 7-34). Recent scholarship has emphasized that the process of cultural change at Thugga was gradual and haphazard, occurring over several centuries, even as some Punico-Numidian cultural practices were retained (e.g., M. Khanoussi in CRAI 147 [2003], 131-155). This brief case study demonstrates that the adoption of Roman identity, which can be seen so clearly from a diachronic, archaeological perspective, was probably not the message that ancient inhabitants of Thugga took away from visits to their forum in the first century C.E.

A few news items came out during the summer:

Classics Professor (and current Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens) Jack Davis was made an honorary citizen of Nestor

Jack Davis and Shari Stocker

ASCSA Director Jack Davis, was made an honorary citizen of Pylos on July 11, 2011. The Mayor of Pylos-Nestoros, Mr. Dimitris Kafantaris, honored Professor Davis for his invaluable archaeological contribution to the area in a lovely ceremony that took place at the Chora Community Center.

The American School website has more and the McMicken College has an interview with Dr. Davis.

Professor Gisela Walberg was featured in the UC News for her work in Late Bronze Age Cyprus

Gisela Walberg on Cyprus

A recent find by a University of Cincinnati archeologist suggests an ancient Cypriot city was well protected from outside threats.

That research, by UC’s Gisela Walberg, professor of classics, will be presented at the annual workshop of the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Center in Nicosia, Cyprus, on June 25, 2011.

Since 2001, Walberg has worked in modern Cyprus to uncover the ancient city of Bamboula, a Bronze Age city that was an important trading center for the Middle East, Egypt and Greece. Bamboula, a harbor town that flourished between the 13th through the 11th century B.C., sits along a highway on the outskirts of the modern village of Episkopi, along the southwestern coast of Cyprus and near the modern harbor town of Limassol. The area thrived in part because the overshadowing Troodos Mountains contained copper, and the river below was used to transport the mined materials.

See the rest of the article here.