Wednesday, March 2, 2016

John Hale on "CLEOPATRA: An Archaeological Perspective on Egypt's Last Pharaoh"

Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 11:00 am, Pillsbury Auditorium, Minneapolis Institute of Arts

++ Free but all Mia talks are now ticketed ++
call 612-870-6323 or reserve online

Cleopatra, last pharaoh of Egypt, may be the most famous female ruler in all of history.  But her Roman enemies made her notorious for all the wrong reasons: her political ambitions, her sumptuous lifestyle, and above all her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.  Yet if we look past the long-standing stereotypes of popular culture, from Plutarch and Shakespeare to Elizabeth Taylor and Hollywood, the archaeological evidence paints a very different picture.  In this illustrated lecture, we will tour the Egypt that Cleopatra inherited from her Ptolemaic ancestors, view her self-chosen portraits on coins and temple walls, and take in her extraordinary achievements as goddess, priestess, queen, civil administrator, scholar, lover, and above all, mother.  Our journeys will follow Cleopatra from the Nile to the Tiber, and from desert shrines to the streets and palaces of her capital at Alexandria, now sunken beneath the waters of Alexandria harbor.  Archaeological discoveries create a truer picture of Cleopatra than the many literary and dramatic fantasies that have distorted the memory of this great leader.

John R. Hale is the Director of Liberal Studies for the College of Arts and Sciences, and Adjunct Professor of Archaeology, at the University of Louisville, Kentucky.  He earned his B.A. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at Cambridge University and did his dissertation on Bronze Age Boats of Scandinavia. Professor Hale teaches introductory courses on archaeology, as well as more specialized courses on the Bronze Age, the ancient Greeks, the Roman world, Celtic cultures, Vikings, and on nautical and underwater archaeology.  He has received many awards for distinguished teaching, including the Panhellenic Teacher of the Year Award and the Delphi Center Award.  He has been published in the journal Antiquity, The Classical Bulletin, The Journal of Roman Archaeology, and Scientific American, and is also the author of Lords of the Sea (2009), a volume about the ancient Athenian navy.  Professor Hale has more than 30 years of fieldwork experience, including at the Romano-British site of Dragonby in Lincolnshire, and at the Roman Villa of Torre de Palma, Portugal. He has also carried out interdisciplinary studies of ancient oracle sites in Greece and Turkey, including the famous Delphic Oracle, and participated in an undersea search in Greek waters for lost fleets from the time of the Persian Wars.  He was an AIA  Norton Lecturer for 2009/2010.

This talk is FREE but tickets are required.  To reserve a ticket call 612.870.6323 or reserve online.

AIA members may join the speaker for a no-host meal following the talk.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Alex Knodell on “Crossroads and Boundaries in an Ancient Greek Borderland: Regional Survey with the Mazi Archaeological Project”

Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 6pm, John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center, Macalester College

The Mazi Archaeological Project (MAP) is a diachronic regional survey of the Mazi Plain, located in the Kithairon mountain range of northwest Attica, Greece. This area is characterized by its rich agricultural land and its critical location on a major land route between two of the most historically significant regions in Greece: Attica and Boeotia. Territorial disputes in this borderland are attested from the Late Archaic period (Herodotos 5.74.2) and region has marked importance for the study of Attic- Boeotian topography, mythology, and religion – especially at the sites of Oinoe (the outermost Attic Deme site) and Eleutherai (one of the best examples of fortress architecture in all of Greece). Our approach to regional history also extends well beyond the Classical past to include prehistoric precursors, as well as the later history of this part of Greece. An initial field season took place in 2014, followed by a larger-scale effort in 2015. This lecture examines some of our survey results, which shed new light on the long-term history of this crossroads and borderland from prehistory to the present.

About the speaker: Alex Knodell (pronounced no-DELL) is an assistant professor in the Classics department at Carleton College, where he also co-directs the undergraduate archaeology program. His research focuses on archaeological approaches to landscapes and interaction in the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East, especially Greece and Jordan.  His PhD dissertation from Brown University examined network-driven approaches to social change in the Euboean Gulf in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, a project he is currently working on turning into a book.  Alex also co-directs the Mazi Archaeological Project, located in northwest Attica, Greece, which is a regional survey project and an international collaboration between Greek, Swiss, and American archaeologists.

*Location and parking information can be found here (#29 on the printable map at the bottom of the link)

AIA members may join the speaker for a no-host meal following the talk at Pad Thai Grand

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pieter Broucke on “A Roman Architect at Work: Apollodoros of Damascus and the Design of the Pantheon"

Thursday, February 11, 2016    at 6pm

Weisman Art Museum, 

University of Minnesota   
Dr. Broucke's reconstruction

The Pantheon in Rome ranks among the most celebrated monuments of Classical Antiquity. Yet many questions regarding its design and construction remain. In this lecture, Dr. Pieter Broucke, Middlebury College, will explore and reconstruct this enigmatic building’s various phases of design and construction. This talk is co-sponsored with the University of Minnesota Department of Art History and Weisman Art Museum.

About the speaker: Pieter Broucke is a professor of History of Art and Architecture and the the Director of the Arts at Middlebury College. He holds a PhD from Yale in History of Art and Architecture, an MA in Archaeology from the University of Minnesota, and a Professional Degree in Architecture from Ghent, in his native Belgium. He is delighted to return to the Twin Cities.

Please note that there will be time for questions after the talk, but there will not be an AIA-MN dinner with Professor Broucke.

Location and parking information can be found here. Please note that the Weisman's pay ramp can be entered from East River Road.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Philip Sellew on “Resurrecting Early Christian Lives: Digging in Papyri in a Digital Age”

Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 6pm in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center, Macalester College

Excavations in the trash heaps of the Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus uncovered half a million scraps of paper giving us unprecedented evidence of human activity from the ancient Mediterranean world. Countless bits of everyday writing from Greco-Roman times were deposited in these garbage dumps: letters, contracts, tax records, census returns, petitions, recipes, school exercises. Editing, interpreting, and publishing these papyri has been a painfully slow process, with only 6,000 of those half a million texts yet in print. Our Minnesota-based project is using web-powered crowd sourcing to speed up the work and expand its horizons into new areas, such as texts written in the Coptic language representing the concerns of early Christian inhabitants of Egypt in late Roman times.

About the speaker: Professor Phillip Sellew's teaching involves the history of religions in Greek and Roman antiquity, with a special interest in early Christianity. Most of his published work is on the Gospels: Mark, Luke, the Q source, and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas. A second area of research is Coptic: the language and literature of Egyptian Christianity (and Gnosticism too) in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. His own writing projects these days center on Luke, Thomas, and various Coptic liturgical and hagiographical texts. 

*Location and parking information can be found here (#29 on the map)

A no-host dinner with the speaker will follow the lecture at Pad Thai Grand, 1681 Grand Avenue, St. Paul.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Nassos Papalexandrou on “Monsters and Vision in the Preclassical Mediterranean: The Case of the Orientalizing Cauldrons”

Metropolitan Museum of Art 23.160.18
Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 11am: Nassos Papalexandrou, “Monsters and Vision in the Preclassical Mediterranean: The Case of the Orientalizing Cauldrons,” in the Pillsbury Auditorium at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

++ Free but all Mia talks are now ticketed +++

call 612-870-6323 or visit

The visual apparatus of orientalizing cauldrons introduced radically new technologies of visual engagement in the preclassical Mediterranean of the seventh century BCE. Hitherto the orientalizing innovation has been understood in terms of the wholesale importation or adaptation of objects, techniques, iconographies from the Near East. My study proposes instead that change was ushered in by a radical shift in ways of seeing and interacting with what today we call “art.”  The new technologies of visual engagement (new ways of seeing and being seen) I explore in this study reshaped the cognitive and aesthetic apparatus of viewing subjects.  I argue that the griffin cauldrons were devised to establish an aesthetic of rare and extraordinary experiences within the experiential realm of early Greek sanctuaries or in sympotic events of princely elites of orientalizing Italy. This aesthetic was premised on active visual engagement as performance motivated and sustained by the materiality of these objects.

About the speaker: Nassos Papalexandrou is with the University of Texas at Austin, and holds his degrees from the University of Athens and Princeton University (Ph.D.).  His areas of specialization are the ritual dimensions of Early Greek figurative art and archaeology, Orientalizing phenomena, and the archaeology of Cyprus; he has done field work in Athens, Crete, Naxos, and multiple sites on Cyprus. His first book, The Visual Poetics of Power: Warriors, Youths, and Tripods in Early Greece, was published in 2005. He is currently working on a second book that explores the role of monsters in the arts and rituals of Early Greece. A second project focuses on an exhibit that will showcase antiquities exchanged as diplomatic gifts between Greece and the USA after WWII. He is currently involved in two projects that have to do with the archaeology of ancient Italy. One focuses on the translation/reception of the Greek tripod cauldron in Magna Graecia and Sicily in the Geometric, Archaic, and Classical periods. The other has to do with the importation and emulation of griffin cauldrons from the Aegean to Italy, especially Etruria, in the Archaic period. Professor Papalexandrou has received numerous honors and awards and is the author of several scholarly articles. Along with Amy Papalexandrou (Stockton College), Dr. Papalexandrou held a Gertrude Smith professorship at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in the Summer of 2014, and this fall (2015) he is a Paul Mellon Visiting Senior Fellow at the National Gallery of Art to work on his current book Monsters, Fear, and the Uncanny in the Preclassical Mediterranean.

AIA members are welcome to join the speaker for a no-host lunch following the lecture at Christos Greek Restaurant, 2632 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis

++ Please note: this event is free and open to the public, but all Mia talks are now ticketed ++

call 612-870-6323 or visit