When Archaeology meets Romantic Literature and Visual Anthropology

John Piprani

As the Archaeology technician at the University of Manchester I manage two laboratories in the Mansfield Cooper Building, and both overlook an area behind the campus known as Greenheys. This area has an interesting recent history, being a parkland in the mid-1800s it was popular with wealthy families who built large houses. Most of these wealthy families had relocated by the late 1890s as encroaching worker terraced housing started to change the character of the area. Fast forward to the ‘slum clearances’ of the 1970s and the families living in this same terraced housing were relocated to other parts of Manchester, and their homes demolished. My laboratories now overlook the Manchester Science Park and in particular the recently constructed Bright Building. Hidden from my gaze, but nestled within the centre of the Science Park is The Old Abbey Taphouse.

The Old Abbey Taphouse was built in the 1890s and is one of the few buildings from this period left in the area. In its current iteration it is a Community Hub in a pub and one of the landlords, Rachele Evaroa, asked me if it would be possible to find out how the pub got its name. It is hard to separate out the history of the pub from the more comprehensive history of the area, and in my research, I found out that the writer, Thomas de Quincey, had grown up locally. The source of this information was a biography of de Quincey by the now retired University of Manchester Professor of Romantic Literature, Grevel Lindop. Grevel didn’t know exactly where de Quincey’s home was, only that it was called Green Hay, built in 1791 and demolished by 1860. Back in my office, the university subscribes to Digimap, a mapping resource that allows digital access to maps from the 1850s onwards, so of course I had a look on the 1850s map of the area.

Greenheys Hall and its gardens sat on Greenheys Lane, which in turn is less than a five minute-walk from my laboratories. I had identified where it was in the 1850s, but where exactly in present-day Hulme? On a sunny day in April this year Grevel and myself met up at The Old Abbey Taphouse and then set off, 1850s map in hand to look for the site of Green Hay. Visual Anthropologist and filmmaker Daisy Courtauld recorded our adventure, and to coincide with this year’s Manchester Literature Festival Olly Storr from the Bright Building has made Daisy’s eight-minute film available through the above QR Code (also embedded below). Click on the code or the link below to watch Daisy’s film, and perhaps use the above 1850s map to see if you can follow in our, and de Quincey’s footsteps.

The Attic Inscriptions Education project and an online CPD event (Saturday 5th June) for Schoolteachers on Ancient Athenian Inscriptions

Inscriptions are a magnificent resource for the interpretation of historical societies. Across time and space, we encounter individuals and communities recording statements of all kinds on stone, metal and other durable surfaces. In an ancient Greek context, they include simple labels and name-tags (e.g. Fig. 1), public and private commemoration of the dead, dedications, and official documents of varying length and detail.  

Fig 1. Timodemides’ pinakion from the Manchester Museum

The development of alphabetic writing in Greece during the eighth century BC initiated one of the most remarkable practices of the ancient world: the epigraphical habit, that is the tendency to put down writing on stone or metal. Hundreds of thousands of inscriptions on stone survive from the ancient Greek world and some 20,000 from Athens alone. Unadulterated by later editors, they offer the possibility of direct insight into the activities, mindset and social media of past societies.

Knowledge of them among modern learners of classics and ancient history, however, has historically been hampered by inaccessibility of translations to them. The Attic Inscriptions Online website, edited by Stephen Lambert, Polly Low, Peter Liddel and Chris de Lisle aims to translate and offer discussions on all surviving inscriptions from ancient Athens. It makes them accessible to everyone with internet access. As of April 2021, it contains English translations and commentaries on about 2000 of these inscriptions.

Our current work focusses upon those Attic inscriptions which are currently held in collections in the United Kingdom: the Attic Inscriptions in UK Collections project (2017-2022) on which we reported here in 2019 is creating new editions of the 220 or so ancient Athenian inscriptions known to be held in 12 collections across the UK (Fig. 2). More than half of these inscriptions are kept at the British Museum, but there are collections dotted across the UK.

Fig. 2. Ancient Athenian inscriptions in UK Collections; the Attic Inscriptions in UK Collections website

Since 2017, we have undertaken autopsy of most of the UK-based inscriptions and are in the process of publishing them, sometimes for the first time. We have, for instance, published the first edition of a fourth-century Athenian funerary monument in the collection of the Great North Museum in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Pantakles’ stele at the Great North Museum: Hancock (Newcastle Upon Tyne). Photograph: P. A. Low

The iconography of this monument offers tantalising insights into the life and most likely premature death of Pantakles, the man named in the inscription. Above the inscription a sunken panel contains the figure of a siren (a mythical creature with wings and bird’s legs). In ancient Greece, sirens were closely associated with mourning: they were commonly depicted on Athenian funerary monuments when the deceased had suffered an unnatural or untimely death, particularly unmarried women and youths; our Pantakles may fall into the latter category. A further aspect of this inscription verifies the youthful nature of the deceased: beneath the inscription there is a representation in relief of a loutrophoros (water-jar), the upper part of which is preserved. In life this type of vessel was used in wedding ritual and on a funerary monument it signified that the deceased had died unmarried.

In the same project we publish what may be the only ancient Athenian inscription in a collection in Northern Ireland, the Mount Stewart stele (Fig. 4), a unique monument depicting five family members who may have been related to a wealthy propertied family connected with the orator Demosthenes.

Fig. 4. The Mount Stewart stele. Photograph: F. Lauritzen

Collection Histories

Inscriptions such as these offer us vignettes of life of ancient Athens. But they also preserve a back story about the collection habits of those who brought them to the UK. Collectors and travellers who took the Grand Tour (a sort of gap-year for wealthy young men of the eighteenth and nineteenth century) of the cities of Europe and the Mediterranean were drawn to Greek sculptures and antiquities by the lure of possessing an authentic piece of antiquity; stone inscriptions, whose texts offered a view of their ancient context, were particularly attractive. We should acknowledge the important role of cultural imperialism in this process: the acquisition of antiquities seems frequently to have been facilitated by the British diplomatic presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, and we must also bear in mind the importance of wealth: obtained through inherited land, cotton-fields worked by slaves, or the cloth mills of the industrial north, it was surplus capital that enabled voyages to the lands of antiquity. We discuss aspects of the collection histories in our video on the Attic inscriptions at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a striking number of inscribed marbles, within a generation or two of their acquisition, found their way by bequest into the collections of philanthropic organisations and public museums, where many of them remain today. A number of these inscriptions are on display (as they are currently at, for instance, the Leeds City Museum) but too many of them are located in closed rooms or in storage.

Our hope is that the Attic Inscriptions in UK collections project will make these inscriptions ever more accessible to wider audiences, and will facilitate wide understanding of these inscriptions and the history of how they came to be in the UK.

For more information, please look at the AIUK Papers section of the Attic Inscriptions Online website or visit the Attic Inscriptions Online Youtube channel.

Our project is now moving into its outreach and impact phase. Later this year we will launch the Attic Inscriptions: Education part of our website, which will offer free resources for teachers of ancient history and classical civilisation in Schools and Colleges at KS 1, 2, 3, GCSE and A-level.

On Saturday, 5th June, from 10am, we will host an online CPD event on Ancient Athenian Inscriptions in UK Collections. It aims to introduce schoolteachers of classical subjects at pre-18 levels to the use of ancient Athenian inscriptions in the classroom.

It will be led by Dr Peter Liddel (University of Manchester) with guests including Professor Stephen Lambert (Cardiff University), Charlie Andrew (Classics for All), Dr Sharon Marshall (University of Exeter), Dr April Pudsey (Manchester Metropolitan University), Rob Hancock-Jones (Townley Grammar School), Liam Holian (Weaverham High School), Sophie Evans (Pimlico Academy), Andronike Makres (Greek Epigraphic Society), Athina Mitropoulos (Queen’s Gate School), Karen Stears (Devonport High School) and Anne Wright (Woodbridge School). All are welcome. You can sign up for the event here (a £5 registration charge applies).

We hope you will join us for some of the event!

Lockdown, photogrammetry and teaching collections

John Piprani

Within Archaeology our teaching collections play a key role, allowing students to become familiar with the kinds of objects we use to structure our understandings of the past. Currently, however there are no ‘hands on’ opportunities for our students to engage with the collection and we are working to respond creatively to this.

As Archaeology technician I am responsible for the upkeep of the collection, and current circumstances have made me think differently about how we can use it. This has partly been stimulated by the work of an MSc Student at Manchester Metropolitan University, Ursula Ackah.

Ursula is in the second year of an MSc in Industrial Digitalisation and she contacted me early on in her course about doing a digitisation project with a cultural institution. I pointed her in the direction of the Bolton Museum where one of our alumni is curator, and that was that.

More recently it was me who contacted Ursula, to see if she could help to produce digitised models for a portion of our teaching collection. This digitised model you can see here is the first Ursula produced, an artefact from our collection that is called a Levallois core:

During the last 200,000 years or so two things have happened to this Levallois core. Firstly, it was abandoned by a Neanderthal, and based on the surface colour, this probably occurred in Africa. Secondly, the British Museum (BM) mislaid its associated paperwork and through no fault of its own this Levallois core became a refugee within the British Museum system.

Fortunately for us, a BM curator had the foresight to creatively re-assign it to be part of a ‘handling collection’, and along with a number of other amazing examples the collection was gifted to the Archaeology department here at Manchester. Thanks to Ursula this particular piece of Neanderthal technology has now entered a new and parallel digital existence.

Ursula’s work here is valuable to us on two levels. We are digitising artefacts that will be used directly for teaching within current modules. Consequently, students will again be able to become familiar with the key artefacts that prehistorians have been used to structure our understandings of the past. However, there is more.

Ursula has also broken the digitisation process (photogrammetry) down so that it can be taught to undergraduate students (and a technician!) within a two hour session, and completed using only a mobile phone camera and free to use software. In other words we can add to the student’s digital skills and experience as well as their archaeological knowledge. It looks like Ursula will also be using this process as the focus for her final year project, so it is a win, win, win!

We have found a use for this technology within Archaeology. Peter Liddel has found a use for it within Ancient History. If you are working within CAHAE and think it may be useful for your teaching then please get in touch and we can see about adding your artefacts to the list. If you work beyond CAHAE and want to find out more, again, get in touch. We are happy to share.

Timodemides’ Allotment Plate. Manchester Museum 42015

After many years wait, Manchester Museum’s Athenian pinakion (allotment plate) is published, in the Greek online journal of epigraphic studies, Grammateion. It was acquired by the Manchester Museum at some point before the appointment of John Prag as Keeper of Egyptology and Classical Archaeology in October 1969, probably after ca. 1930. Such bronze allotment plates periodically surface in western European collections, as they were picked up by travellers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and kept often in private collections as trinkets. The object discussed here was displayed for many years in the Manchester Museum’s exhibition on writing but is now kept in the store.

It consists of a straight strip of bronze inscribed by punching with chisels, one a tool with a straight end and one with a half-round end (for omicron and theta). It is complete and largely undamaged. Its dimensions are height 0.022-24 m; width 0.115-116 m; thickness 0.002-0.003 m. The letters feature deltas with upward-sloping horizontals, sigma with upward-sloping top bar, mu, nu and pi with shorter right-hand hasta. These letter forms are characteristic of classical Athens.

Close examination of the object by Peter Liddel and Bryan Sitch has enabled an interpretation of it and allows us to understand its historical context and its use and re-use in ancient times.

Greek Text:

ca. late 350s – 340s BC         

                    : Τιμοδημίδης

              Θ

: Παιανιεύ(ς)

Translation:

Timodemides

                  theta

the Paianian

Discussion:

Bronze allotment plates (described by fourth-century BC writers as pinakia: [Aristotle], Constitution of the Athenians 64.1 and as chalkia: Demosthenes 39.10) inscribed with the names of individuals are known from a number of parts of the Greek world where they were employed for the allocation of citizens to magistracies and civic boards. In ancient Athens they were used in association with a machine known as the kleroterion (allotment machine) as a way of randomly allocating citizens to administrative offices or a place on one of the juries of the ancient lawcourts. This process was an important aspect of Athenian democratic practice as it ensured that citizens who put themselves forward for office had an equal chance of being allocated.

In the middle of the left end of the strip, there is an inscribed circle with a notch in the middle, which appear to be a mal-formed Greek letter theta. Parallels suggest that this represented a ‘section letter’ which would correspond to the letters marked the top of each column of slots on the kleroterion ([Aristotle] Constitution of the Athenians 64.1).

What was it used for? To answer this question, we have to look at John Kroll’s 1972 study of Athenian bronze allotment plates. Class VI of Kroll’s typology of Athenian bronze allotment plates (Kroll 1972, 12, 59-62; nos 114-43) features pinakia which bear name (sometimes with patronymic) and demotic usually inscribed in two lines and a section-letter on the right or left hand side. The appearance of a section-letter and absence of any seal or additional embellishment means that the Manchester allotment plate falls into Kroll’s Class VI. Class VI pinakia were introduced probably in the mid-350s by which time the Athenians had started to use wood for the allocation of jurors ([Aristotle], Constitution of the Athenians 63.4) but continued to use bronze for non-dikastic allotment plates. This class of pinakia were used to allocate candidates to the council or to magistracies (cf. [Aristotle], Constitution of the Athenians 8.1; Demosthenes 39.10-12). They were used until the constitutional changes of 322/1 BC (Kroll, 1972, 63-8, 90). The letter forms of the Manchester pinakion, in particular the pi, mu and nu with slightly shorter right hasta point towards a date early on in this period:  we suggest, therefore a date of the late 350s to 340s BC for the inscription of Timodemides’ name.

Like many examples of bronze allotment plates (cf. Kroll 1972, 8), the Manchester pinakion appears to have been re-used. It is possible to discern partially-erased lines of the upper half of an earlier sigma, under the final sigma of line 1: also visible also are the remains of a phi between the iota and alpha in line 2. These vestiges suggest an earlier, effectively-erased name. It is likely, then, that the pinakion had been borne the name of a previous owner, which was deleted before Timodemides’ name and ethnic were added. As John Kroll points out to us, it looks possible, too, that disturbances in the surface at the upper right end could represent a flattened/erased gorgoneion stamp, typical of earlier Athenian non-dikastic pinakia. Kroll makes a case for the view that the gorgoneion was a characteristic of the earliest non-dikastic pinakia (Class III) which are dated to the 360s: and suggests that they were issued to citizens to indicate eligibility for office of those not sworn in as jurors; gorgoneia later appeared on those pinakia which were good for both dikastic and non-dikastic allotment (Classes IV and V also of the 360s: Kroll 1972, 56). It is likely, then, that our pinakion was inscribed originally with a name and gorgoneion stamp in the 360s and then re-used by Timodemides afterwards. It is our hope that we will be able to gain more certainty about surface the disturbances on this artefact by examining it with the University of Manchester Archaeology Lab’s Digital Microscope: but this will have to wait until ‘lockdown’ is over; we hope to report any findings in a separate blog.

What do we know about Timodemides? The designation Παιανιεύς tells us that he was a citizen from the Athenian deme (village) of Paiania: this is close to the modern village of Liopesi in Attica. Like many other examples it may have derived from the grave of its owner, with whom it was buried.

The name Τιμοδημίδης consists of two components, derived from the nouns δῆμος (= people) and τιμή (= honour), to which is added the patronymic termination –ίδης. Not all names of this kind make literal sense, but this one clearly suggests “the son of one who was held in honour by the people”. The only other attested Athenian individual with this name appears on a casualty list of 423 BC in which Τιμοδεμί̣[δες] is listed as the dead among the Kekropid tribe (IG I³ 1184 line 65). This individual was probably not related to our Timodemides, whose male ancestors, as a demesman of Paiania, would have belonged to Pandionis.

The basic form of the name, Τιμόδημος, was common in Attica. 39 individual bearers of the name are identified in the Athenian Onomasticon and one bearer of the feminine form, Τιμοδήμη. None of the bearers of this name have been identified as demesmen of Paiania, but 13 of them are attached to no particular deme and any of the 12 classical examples could be the father or other relative of our Timodemides.

We therefore have to look further afield as we attempt to track down Timodemides’ family. As Stephen Lambert (2019, 155) notes, ‘in classical Athens a son frequently shared a name component with his father’. However, on this occasion this principle does not enable us to identify other members of the family of Timodemides. The element -δημίδης appears in other names in Attica (most commonly Εὐδημίδης and Χαιριδημίδης), and less commonly outside Attica, but none of the attested examples are associated with the deme of Paiania. The components Τιμο- and Δημο- / -δημο- are widespread in Attic nomenclature. Of the male individuals named Τιμο- identified as demesmen of Paiania, Τιμοκλῆς (IG II² 7092: fourth century), Τιμοκράτης (Finley, SLC, 189 no. 126 c, 2: fourth or third century), Τιμόστρατος (IG II3 4, 83 line 10: ca. 330 BC), Τιμοφῶν (Kroll 1972, no. 18d: fourth century) and Τιμῶναξ (IG II2 1554: 330-320 BC) are datable to the classical period, and might plausibly be the father, or a son, of our Timodemides. Paiania was the deme of the famous politicians Demades and Demosthenes, but there survive too many examples of demesmen of Paiania with names beginning with Δημ- for certain identification of Timodemides’ family. Nothing firm, therefore, can be said about his identity. It has been commented that ‘names of the patronymic form, i.e. in –ίδης, were characteristic of the Athenian upper classes in the classical period’ (Lambert 2012, 327), but we know nothing more about Timodemides to be able to verify this.

We know nothing more about the exact provenance of  the Manchester pinakion, but like many other ancient Athenian pinakia, it may have derived from the grave of its last owner. Why would it have been placed there? Many ancient societies bury treasured or symbolic objects such as, weapons, jewellery or even horses. But in ancient Athens, tokens like this, which were a tool of participation in the political and judicial systems and proof of status, were place alongside the deceased: this is a clear demonstration of high esteem in which political and judicial participation were held at the time of the classical Athenian democracy and how integral they were to a citizen’s identity.

References:

Finley, SLC: M.I. Finley, Studies in Land and Credit in Ancient Athens, 500-200 B.C.: Horos Inscriptions. New Brunswick, 1951.

Kroll 1972: J.H. Kroll, Athenian Bronze Allotment Plates Cambridge, MA, 1972.

Lambert 2012: S.D. Lambert, Inscribed Athenian Laws and Decrees 352/1-322/1 BC: Epigraphical Essays. Leiden, 2012.

Lambert 2019: S.D. Lambert, ‘Demokrates the democrat?’ in R. Parker, ed., Changing Names. Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Greek Onomastics. Proceedings of the British Academy 222. Oxford, 2019, 153-66.


* I would like to acknowledge the permission of the Manchester Museum to publish this object and also the kind advice of John Kroll, Stephen Lambert, John Prag and Bryan Sitch. Bryan Sitch took the photographs.

Funding at Manchester for PhD in Latin (Lees Scholarship in Latin)!

We are delighted to invite applications for the Lees Scholarship in Latin. The Scholarship is awarded for PhD research in the field of Latin (including literary, historical, philosophical and linguistic topics). Further information on the Scholarship is available here:

https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/funding/opportunities/display/?id=00000353

Classics and Ancient History at the University of Manchester includes academic experts in a broad range of aspects of Greek and Latin literature and Greek and Roman cultural, social and political history from the Archaic period to late antiquity. Particular research strengths include: ancient epistolography (both Greek and Latin); Augustan poetry; archaic Greek poetry, esp. lyric; Hellenistic poetry; Greek and Roman philosophy (including the pre-Socratics, Plato, Lucretius); Greek and Latin historiography; Greek epigraphy and its reception; the ancient life-course from birth to old age; papyrology; Egyptian history from dynastic to Roman and early Christian periods; the language, literature and social history of technical subjects in the ancient world, especially medicine and law. For further details, please visit our departmental staff profiles via: www.manchester.ac.uk/classics

We particularly welcome applications from students from backgrounds that are historically under-represented in higher education, and are committed to supporting those communities that have often been marginalised.

In order to apply for the Scholarship please submit the online application for a PhD place at Manchester by 15 January 2021 at the latest. All supporting documentation, including references, must be submitted by that date. Please submit the completed School Funding Application Form by 5pm GMT, Friday 5 February 2021, at the latest. Please note that this is a strict deadline and applications received after 5pm will not be included in the competition.

Application form

Potential applicants are requested in the first instance to contact their preferred PhD supervisor and Prof. Andrew Morrison (CAHAE PGR director) with an outline of their academic background and proposed area of research within Latin (broadly construed).

PhD Research Opportunities in Classics and Ancient History at Manchester!

We’re delighted to invite applications for doctoral study in Classics and Ancient History, and to the AHRC North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP) Classics pathway for associated funding.

Classics and Ancient History at the University of Manchester includes academic experts in a broad range of aspects of Greek and Latin literature and Greek and Roman cultural, social and political history from the Archaic period to late antiquity and we welcome applications across our broad range of specialisms. Particular research strengths at the University of Manchester include: ancient epistolography (both Greek and Latin); Augustan poetry; archaic Greek poetry, esp. lyric; Hellenistic poetry; pre-Socratic and classical philosophy; Greek and Latin historiography; Greek epigraphy and its reception; the ancient life-course from birth to old age; papyrology; Egyptian history from dynastic to Roman and early Christian periods; the language, literature and social history of technical subjects in the ancient world, especially medicine and law; Indo-European comparative and historical linguistics. 

Classics and Ancient History forms part of a department that also includes Archaeology and Egyptology, thus offering unique opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches to the past. The Department comprises over 20 permanent staff plus several postdocs, a dedicated fieldwork and lab technician, a departmental reference library and common room. Weekly research seminars offer the opportunity to hear about research from colleagues across the UK, and for our own PhD students to present their work in a supportive setting.  We have strong links with several research centres, including the Manchester Centre for Archaeology & Egyptology, the Centre for the Cultural History of War, and the Manchester Centre for Correspondence Studies. For further details, please visit our departmental staff profiles website via: www.manchester.ac.uk/classics

The AHRC scheme encourages cross-institutional projects and co-supervision between members of the Classics & Ancient History Pathway of the NWCDTP, and we would particularly welcome applications from students who would like to take up this opportunity. Pathway members are the University of Liverpool, University of Lancaster, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the University of Manchester.  Our shared strengths across the Pathway include: Greek and Latin literature; Greek and Roman history and religions; Egyptian history from dynastic to Roman and early Christian periods; Demotic, Greek and Coptic papyrology; the ancient life course, from conception to old age; Pre-Socratic and Classical Philosophy; and Digital Humanities. Supervision may be shared across institutions thought they are based in a single university; anyone wanting to explore the possibility of co-supervision should, therefore, contact in the first instance the department in which they intend to register as a PhD student. Current funded students in the Classics Pathway are active in organising training sessions, reading groups, workshops and other events, and are supported by shared training opportunities and a strong network of colleagues and graduate students across all four institutions.

We particularly welcome applications from students from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in Higher Education, and are committed to supporting those communities that often have been marginalised. The NWCDTP is working to address imbalances and to promote equality of opportunity.

We advise interested applicants contact potential supervisors and departments in advance of submitting an application.​ Please note that for consideration under the NWCDTP scheme for a project at Manchester, candidates must have submitted an application to study a PhD at the University of Manchester by 15 January 2021. Eligible applicants must then complete and submit the AHRC NWCDTP application form by 5pm GMT, 5 February 2021.  Please note that this is a strict deadline and applications received after 5pm will not be included in the competition.

For information on applying to the University of Manchester for a PhD in Classics or Ancient History, please visit this webpage: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/programmes/list/02945/phd-classics-and-ancient-history/

Full details of the NWCDTP scheme can be found here: http://www.nwcdtp.ac.uk/

Potential applicants to the University of Manchester are requested in the first instance to contact their preferred PhD supervisor and Prof. Andrew Morrison (NWCDTP Classics pathway co-ordinator) with an outline of their academic background and proposed area of research.

PhD Reseach Opportunities in Archaeology and Egyptology at Manchester!

We’re delighted to invite applications for doctoral study in Archaeology or Egyptology, and to the AHRC North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP) Heritage pathway for associated funding. 

Archaeology and Egyptology at the University of Manchester include academic experts in a broad range of aspects covering the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age and stretching from Britain and northern Europe to Greece and Near East, as well as Egyptian archaeology and history from dynastic to Roman and early Christian periods. Thematically, our research revolves around a number of broad themes, such as history, theory and practice of archaeology; the archaeology of cultural identity; landscape, monuments and architecture; technology and society; death and the body; and archaeological heritage and the contemporary significance of the past.

Archaeology and Egyptology are both part of a department that also includes Classics & Ancient History, thus offering unique opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary approaches to the past. We are part of the Manchester Centre of Archaeology and Egyptology (https://www.mcae.manchester.ac.uk/) which brings together scholars from the Biomedical, Geological and Biomolecular sciences, as well as the Manchester Museum who regularly act as co-supervisors to our students. The Department as a whole comprises over 20 permanent staff plus postdocs, a dedicated fieldwork and lab technician, a departmental reference library and common room. Our doctoral students participate in a thriving disciplinary research culture. For example, research seminars offer the opportunity to hear about research from colleagues across the UK, and for our own PhD students to present their work in a supportive setting.  For further details, please visit our departmental staff profiles via: https://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/cahae/

The AHRC scheme encourages cross-institutional projects and co-supervision between members of the Heritage Pathway of the NWCDTP, and we would particularly welcome applications from students who would like to take up this opportunity. Pathway members are the University of Manchester, University of Liverpool, University of Salford, Manchester Metropolitan University and Lancaster University. Although supervision may be shared across institutions, these are not joint PhDs, but are based in a single university; anyone wanting to explore the possibility of co-supervision should, therefore, contact in the first instance the department in which they intend to register as a PhD student.

We particularly welcome applications from students from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in Higher Education, and are committed to supporting those communities that often have been marginalised. The NWCDTP is working to address imbalances and to promote equality of opportunity.

We advise interested applicants contact potential supervisors and departments in advance of submitting an application.​ Please note that for consideration under the NWCDTP scheme for a project at Manchester, candidates must have submitted an application to study a PhD at the University of Manchester by 15 January 2021. Eligible applicants must then complete and submit the AHRC NWCDTP application form by 5pm GMT, 5 February 2021.  Please note that this is a strict deadline and applications received after 5pm will not be included in the competition.

For information on applying to the University of Manchester for a PhD in Archaeology, please visit this webpage: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/programmes/list/02893/phd-archaeology/

For information on applying to the University of Manchester for a PhD in Egyptology, please visit this webpage: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/programmes/list/12659/phd-egyptology/

Full details of the NWCDTP scheme can be found here: http://www.nwcdtp.ac.uk/

Potential applicants to the University of Manchester are requested in the first instance to contact their preferred PhD supervisor and Prof. Andrew Morrison (NWCDTP Heritage pathway contact) with an outline of their academic background and proposed area of research.

Changing Shapes and Fluid Forms: Shapeshifters in Greek Poetry

Kat Mawford’s PhD has just been awarded: congratulations Dr Mawford!

Kat’s PhD examines the depiction and nature of shapeshifting characters such as Proteus and Thetis in early Greek poetry and traces the effects and appearance of these characters into Hellenistic poetry.

Shapeshifters can be read as a distinct group of figures with varying degrees of a family resemblance; the range of approaches required to investigate them includes discussion of the structural parallels and recurring motifs which exist between episodes, analysis of the intra- and intertextual links between different literary depictions, and thematic assessment of the episodes and the characters involved.

Kat’s thesis also compares Greek shapeshifter myths with international tale-types, including those of European folktale, and additionally with other similar characters in the Greek myth, in particular monsters and hybrid creatures such as Scylla and Typhon.

 

The Ancient Letter Collections Project WANTS YOU!

Or, more precisely, we want your feedback!

We’ve created a page (here), where you can download PDFs of versions of some of the revised entries in the first of our planned print publications, the critical review of all surviving letter collections up to around 410 CE.

Please let us know what you think! It will be invaluable help as we finalise the first part of the project. You can also find out more about the shape of the project on our new page.

early printed books

Latin Letters on a Palimpsest

The Ancient Letter Collections project has moved on from Greek to Latin collections. We estimate there are around 18 collections or so falling under the parameters of the project (the precise number depends on what one counts as a separate collection). The first collection we have been examining are the letters of Fronto, from the second century AD. These letters are well-known, in particular because of Fronto’s correspondence with the emperor Marcus Aurelius, but their transmission and consequent difficulties of reconstruction form considerable challenges. The letters of Fronto survive only in one manuscript, a palimpsest, that is a manuscript which was reused for a different text, with the letters of Fronto (and some other texts) erased to make room for the new text, which was a Latin translation of the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon. This took place in the seventh century AD and also involved the disarrangement of the order of the folia of the ‘lower’ text on the palimpsest when it was reused for the Acts. The manuscript was later divided and now exists in two parts, one in Milan and one in Rome. The letters of Fronto were not discovered until 1815 (by Angelo Mai).

According to van den Hout’s second edition of the letters there are 246 surviving letters, which van den Hout estimates to be about 57% of the letters the text of the letters originally contained (several pages having been lost from the original text containing Fronto’s letters). The original order of the folia of Fronto’s codex cannot be reconstructed with certainty, not only because of the disarrangement which took place when the palimpsest was reused, but also because the letters’ discoverer and first editor (Mai) used processes to uncover the lower text which have made large parts of the text difficult for later scholars to read. Nevertheless, there are some important clues: i) the numbering of the quaternions of the original manuscript of Fronto has been partly preserved; ii) a note by a second hand exists at the end of each book indicating its end; iii) there are indices of contents in the beginning of some books indicating the opening words of each letter that help in defining the ordering of the letters and the divisions between letters. It is clear that the letters of Fronto were divided into a number of books, including five books to Marcus Aurelius, two to Lucius Verus, one to the emperor Antoninus Pius and two books ‘ad amicos’. It is likely (but controversial) that this arrangement is the work of later editors: the books are arranged mainly by correspondent, but some are collected according to (loose) theme. Ordering by chronology within books appears to be the exception rather than the rule. There is no manuscript basis for the thoroughgoing chronological rearrangement of the letters carried out by Haines in his Loeb edition (still the gateway to Fronto for many Anglophone readers).