Ancient Societies Wor​kshop and Core Seminar

This interdisciplinary workshop serves as a meeting ground for those who work on the ancient world at Yale, and is an important forum that allows sustained conversation about a common theme. The workshop meets once a month during the academic year, and is supplemented by the core graduate seminar in the Archaia program. Presenters include Yale faculty and graduate students, as well as occasional visiting professors. The chronological scope of the seminar extends over the first millennium BCE and up through the premodern period; issues of reception are also considered.

The theme for 2018-19 is “Sensory Experiences in Ancient and Premodern Ritual”

See event in calendar here.

The silent; still, remains of ancient temples and religious sites stand as witnesses to the fundamental importance that religious beliefs and ritual practices held in the ancient and premodern world. Yet the sites and monuments, taken on their own, preserve only traces of the worshippers’ ephemeral, transient experiences. Ancient and premodern religious ritual was, above all, multisensory, filled with vibrantly colored images of supernatural beings, resonant musical sounds, billowing clouds of aromatic smoke, and the taste of food and drink consumed during ritual and funerary feasts. Over the 2018-19 academic year, the Ancient Societies Workshop will investigate how premodern religious ritual engaged the senses, that is, how worshippers were encouraged—even provoked—to see, hear, smell, taste, or touch aspects of ritual. Examining ritual practice as it was performed in early Asia, India, the Near East, the Mediterranean, and the ancient Americas, we will explore how worshippers were brought into closer proximity with divine forces through their sensory experience of the rituals they performed.

Series Poster Here

All meetings start at noon in Phelps Hall, Room 401. A light lunch is served.

September 14, Mick Hunter (Yale University)

October 12, Verity Platt (Cornell University)

November 2, Karl Taube (UC Riverside)

December 7, James McHugh (University of Southern California)

January 25, Bissera Pentcheva (Stanford University)

February 15, Ed Kamens (Yale Univeristy)

March 8, Kim Haines-Eitzen (Cornell University)

April 19, Mary Weismantel (Northwestern University)

Working papers for previous years




Cultures of the Classical ‘Cultures of the Classical’ is a network that draws together scholars at Yale who work on receptions of Greco–Roman Classical Antiquity, and the Classical Tradition (including comparative Classical Traditions and rival antiquities). We are particularly interested in complex plays with the past in which texts and works of art, and indeed whole cultural movements, have appropriated aspects of Classical Antiquity while simultaneously asserting their distance from ancient Greece and Rome. Read More

Greco-Roman Lunch is sponsored by the Classics Department and is held bi-weekly, on the first and third (and sometimes fifth) Mondays of the month in the Fellows’ Room at Saybrook College. The invitation list consists of faculty and graduate students from the Departments of Classics, History, Art History, EALL, Judaic Studies, Religious Studies, and others, and they convene at 12:00 for lunch followed by a presentation by one of their number at 12:30. A presentation of up to 30 minutes is followed by questions. The focus of papers ranges freely from literary to archaeological to cultural. Lunch is provided free to those who are not on a meal plan. For more information please contact the organizers: Dexter Brown, Religious Studies and Classics; Joe Morgan, Classics and History; CJ Rice, History and Classics.

Medieval Lunch Colloquium The weekly Medieval Lunch Colloquium brings together medievalists from a variety of departments in the University for informal presentations and discussion. At each meeting, a speaker presents work-in-progress to an interdisciplinary audience of graduate students, faculty and staff working in medieval studies. Speakers include both Yale faculty and graduate students, with occasional out-of-town guests.

The Hebrew Bible Lecture Series is co-sponsored by the Yale Divinity School and the Program in Judaic Studies. Every year it brings to campus some of the most significant scholars in the field of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism, both junior and senior, to share their recent research. These lectures make available to the Yale community the breadth of scholarship currently being produced on ancient Israelite and Jewish history, literature, beliefs, and practices.

Yale Lectures in Medieval Studies The Medieval Studies Program organizes Yale Lectures in Medieval Studies, an interdisciplinary lecture series which brings to Yale America’s most creative scholars of the Middle Ages, presenting innovative and exciting work in fields such as paleography, codicology, liturgical studies, music, history of art, archaeology, history, literature, and philosophy. The series, which is run by students in medieval disciplines, emphasizes intellectual diversity and rigorous scholarship and is a vital part of Yale’s interdisciplinary approach to the medieval period.
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The Annual Rostovtzeff Lecture and Colloquium

The lecture honors the legacy of Michael I. Rostovtzeff, a titan of Ancient History and one of the greats of twentieth-century historical scholarship. Rostovtzeff taught at Yale from 1925 until his retirement in 1944. He was a world authority on Hellenistic and Roman history and wrote widely on ancient history, particularly in the field of economic history. The annual lecture brings scholars to Yale who work in areas pioneered by Rostovtzeff, but whose field-changing research takes Ancient History in new directions.
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Summer Course 2018 — Iceland and Greenland

On August 15th, Anders Winroth, Johanna Friedricksdottir and myself will lead an exciting Summer program based at Geocamp, Iceland. Why would historians go there? The course will provide a basic introduction to Geophysical processes, to Paleoclimatology and to historical case studies and methods on the impact of climate change on human society. Based at Geocamp Iceland (, we will also have time to travel through some of the historical landscape of Iceland, see the well-known volcanoes and lava fields left by some of the largest eruptions in history, and experience on-site lectures at a variety of locations throughout the island. We plan a series of lectures by experts on Geology, Volcanology and Ancient and Medieval History as well as trips to local museums and historic sites. This trip has wide potential for collaborative learning, and aims to introduce students to the methods required to integrate human and natural archives to tell a richer story of the past. Most exciting of all (which is truly saying something!) is that we plan on flying over to the Greenland Climate Research CentrePinngortitaleriffik * Grønlands Naturinstitut * Greenland Institute of Natural Resources in Nuuk, which offers both expertise in Environmental Studies, Climatology and also a rich historical setting for examining the historical effects of climate change on human settlement patterns.


Please email us your suggestions or let us know what we have missed.