Friday, October 7, 2016

Sneak Preview II; Book of the Blog II

The Institute’s fall Lecture Program will be circulated shortly. In the meantime here’s the second installment of the “Fall 2016 Sneak Preview”. The first lecture will be on Wednesday, November 2nd. Jacob Heywood, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne will share will us fresh insights on the manner of decoration of terracotta larnakes from Late Minoan IIIC Crete. Then, on November 16th Dr. Žarko Tankosić, the Higher Executive Officer at the Norwegian Institute at Athens, will present the evidence from various surveys (including the Canadian Institute’s Southern Euboea Exploration Project) for the interconnectivity of southern Euboea within the Aegean during the Prehistoric period. Finally, Dr. Mark Hammond, one of the two Elisabeth Alföldi-Rosenbaum Fellows at the Institute this year, will speak on Wednesday, December 7th. His topic relates to the ceramic finds from an early unpublished excavation of a Late Roman cemetery on the Hill of Zeus at ancient Corinth. The lectures will be held in the Library of the Institute at 19:30. A poster will be sent out prior to each lecture. So save the dates!

Book of the Blog

My esteemed colleague at Brock University, Allison Glazebrook, and a long-term friend of the Institute, Barbara Tsakirgis, have co-edited a tantalizingly titled volume, Houses of Ill Repute. The Archaeology of Brothels, Houses and Taverns in the Greek World (University of Pennsylvania Press 2016). With six other contributors (including Mark Lawall from the University of Manitoba) they explore in depth the scattered and often ambiguous evidence for practice and the topos of prostitution in ancient Greece. Their starting premises are that one must have a good understanding of what constitutes “normal” domestic architecture and what a “typical” domestic material culture assemblage, especially in terms of the ceramic remains, looks like before one can begin to suggest that a purpose-built structure was used regularly for prostitution with a specific material culture package related to aspects of this service activity. There is the added problem that a so-called domestic structure with evidence for drinking and food consumption could be a shop (stoa), a tavern (kapaleion), a hostelry (pandokeion), a tenement house (sunoikie) or a gambling den (skirapheion), not a brothel (porneion) or a house (oikos). The location within the city core is not a ready given either for ascribing a structure as a brothel.

Reflecting on the comments of her co-contributors and on her own research, Glazebrook argues in the concluding Chapter that while there can be an “archaeology of prostitution” for ancient Greece, she admits that with all of the limitations and variables it will be difficult to realize. The neither public not private activities involved in the pursuit of these carnal pleasures makes secure assignments of function a challenge. The contextualization of this discussion (especially the “Introduction”) within the architectural remains and the material cultural assemblages from probable houses and drinking places as well as from possible brothels, in junction with the iconography from vase painting, makes this volume a broader cultural study of Greek urbanism. The use of similar investigations at Pompeii highlight the areas of convergence and of divergence between the two cultures. Each contribution is worthy of a careful reading. The references cited open many avenues for further stimulating reading. The volume is awaiting your attention at the Institute’s Library. In closing I wish to thank Angus Smith for delivering it to Greece!

Now who will be the next person to donate a book, a monograph or an edited volume to the CIG Library? The next iteration of the Book of the Blog will review it!!!

David Rupp

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