The 2023/24 Pritchett Lecture

Rubina Raja (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Out of the Desert and into a Global Perspective: Palmyra in a longue durée Perspective (1st cent. BC to 8th cent. AD)

Monday, November 6, 5pm

370 Dwinelle

Palmyra, ancient Tadmor, is a city, which has fascinated scholars and travelers alike for centuries. It has come into the spotlight as it became infamous during the Syrian war, during which its heritage has suffered. However, the city has been a focus of earlier attention as well: both as a target for destructions and a locus of much research due to its rich cultural heritage. The Roman roots of that heritage have been highlighted, in particular due to the city’s ruins, monuments and sculptural habit, which flourished in the first three centuries CE. However, Tadmor/Palmyra was never just a Roman city. This year’s Pritchett Lecture takes a longue durée perspective on the famous oasis city, while also bringing to the forefront the work done within the framework of the Palmyra Portrait Portrait Project, where more than 4,000 funerary portraits have been collected and studied – a study that sheds a new light on portrait habit in the Roman world, the duration of local traditions, and the entanglement of core and perceived periphery in the ancient world, which begs us to reconsider the ways in which we perceive and study the heritage of the classical world in general.  

During her visit, Professor Raja will also give a seminar:

Caesar's Forum in a New Light: The Danish-Italian Excavations on Caesar's Forum, 2017-2023

Tuesday, November 7, 4pm

3335 Dwinelle

In the period 2017 to 2023 the first phase of new excavations on Caesar’s Forum were conducted in collaboration between the Sopraintendenza dei Beni Culturali, the Danish Institute in Rome and Centre for Urban Network Evolutions at Aarhus University, Denmark. This seminar focuses on the results of these excavations undertaken in one of the most central locations in the Roman world, namely the forum of Gaius Julius Caesar. While previous research focused on the Republican and Early Imperial phases, the new excavations have also examined the later phases – all the way to the demolition of the so-called Alessandrino Quarter during the reign of Mussolini. In this seminar case studies drawing on the wide-ranging research, which has come out of the now-concluded project, are discussed in order to highlight the potential and complications of undertaking archaeology in modern urban contexts.  

Funerary portrait of Aha, Palmyra