“A Roman’s Story: Flavius Agricola Between Life and Death”
Prof. Jeremy Hartnett, Wabash College
Time and Zoom info:
Thursday, Oct. 29, 5:30pm
Meeting ID: 949 2518 3573
In 1626, workers digging foundations within St. Peter’s basilica in Rome accidentally unearthed the funerary monument of an ancient Roman named Flavius Agricola. It consisted of a marble sculpture portraying him reclining at table and a poetic inscription encouraging readers to enjoy wine, women, and whoopie. Since the discovery was made immediately adjacent to the supposed tomb of the apostle Peter, alarmed papal authorities removed the inscription and locked down the site. Thanks to antiquarians, the epitaph was transcribed before its deletion and the statue is exhibited today at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Subsequent excavation has unearthed much of the necropolis surrounding Flavius’ tomb, all of which grants us the remarkable opportunity to investigate an otherwise-unknown Roman.
This talk considers what Flavius’ life and commemoration in death illustrate about individual experience in the Roman world. One generation removed from slavery, married to a “chaste worshipper” of the Egyptian goddess Isis, and proudly showing himself living it up for all eternity because “after death, earth and fire consume all else,” Flavius prompts many questions. Did Flavius’ corporeal pleasures align with his wife’s beliefs? Why was he so keen on dining in the first place? How did visitors to his tomb encounter his funerary monument? And, if they dined in his presence, did they somehow understand him as being among the living?
“Blueprints for Bureaucracy: How the Egyptian Government Designed Settlements in the Desert to oversee Amethyst Mining”
Prof. Kate Liszka, California State University San Bernardino
Time and Zoom info:
Thursday, Nov. 12, 5:30pm
Meeting ID: 984 4728 5730
The design of a space is an essential element to the organization of productive work generated by the people using that space. Deep in Egypt’s Eastern Desert, we see this principle in action at the fortified settlements of Site 5 and Site 9 at Wadi el-Hudi. These settlements have often been confused with fortresses because of elements from their designs, but fortification was not its main purpose. In it, administrators oversaw the quarrying and refining of amethyst in two of Ancient Egypt’s largest and most productive mines. Hundreds of workers, soldiers, scribes, and administrators used these structures for a variety of purposes, from basic living and storage needs to the administration of work and the dedication of monuments. This talk will present results from ongoing archaeological survey and excavation of the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition in Egypt’s Eastern Desert. Focusing on Sites 5 and 9, I will examine various architectural and archaeological nuances to elicit how Egyptian officials designed their spaces to maximize amethyst production through the organization of their workforces and work spaces. These principles of organization of administration can speak to the greater importance of architecture and design as means of control and productivity.