OPEN TO THE PUBLIC * 

*Except for select events noted. Also, please expect COVID-era protocols to be in place.

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2022 - 2023

Operation Demeter: What Italy’s Largest Antiquities Bust Reveals About Archaeological Looting Today

Dr. Fiona Greenland, University of Virginia 
Archaeological Institute of America 2022-2023 National Lecture Program

Fiona Greenland lecture

Date: Tuesday, September 27
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: 601 Herter Hall, UMass Amherst
Zoom link: 

In 2018, the Italian Art Squad announced the conclusion of a four-year investigation into a vast looting network that traversed five European countries. "Operation Demeter" was the largest investigation in the unit's history. It recovered 20,000 artifacts valued at some 40 million Euros and resulted in the arrest of 23 people. What did Operation Demeter teach us about the looting and selling of archaeological materials? Today, nearly five years onward, what has changed—if anything—in the looting landscape?

Dr. Fiona Rose Greenland is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, and founder and director of the CURIA Lab (Cultural Resilience Informatics and Analysis). She received a DPhil in Classical Archaeology from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan. She works at the intersection of cultural sociology, comparative and historical sociology, and archaeology to investigate how archaeological materials feature in modern social life. She has conducted fieldwork in archaeological sites, museums, and antiquities shops in Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Her research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures at the University of Virginia. Her book, Ruling Culture: Art Police, Tomb Robbers, and the Rise of Cultural Power in Italy (Chicago 2021), received the 2022 Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book in Culture from the American Sociological Association.

This lecture is sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America and the UMass Amherst Department of Classics.

Otherness and the Edges of Race: Orientalisms from the Emperor Nero to Modern America

Prof. Timothy Clark '12, Boston University

Orientalism ancient and modern

Date: Thursday, September 29
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Paino Lecture Hall (Beneski 107), Amherst College

In recent years, events at home and abroad have demonstrated the urgent need to highlight and uproot structures of racism and inequality that dominate American life. Academic complicity in these structures has also come under increased scrutiny. How might fields like classics and history support renewed efforts to combat racism, Orientalism, and other forms of “othering,” and contribute to the creation of a more just and equitable society?  

In this lecture, Professor Timothy Clark ’12 will show how comparing the ancient and modern worlds sheds new light on the conceptual frameworks that underpin racism and othering. Professor Clark will show how Roman officials under the emperor Nero and the American legal system in the 21st century situated Eastern “others” in conceptual and legal positions where their exact status was left ambiguous. He will explain why this form of Orientalism persists and how it personally impacted ancient Eastern nobles and modern Iranian-Americans alike. This lecture will show the dangerous consequences that result when the categories we create for different ethnic and racial groups are taken for granted.  

This lecture is sponsored by the Departments of Classics, History, and Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series Fund at Amherst College.

Material Encounters in a Hellenistic Egyptian Fortification

Jennifer Gates-Foster, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Material Encounters in a Hellenistic Egypian Fortification

Date: Thursday, October 6
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Campus Center 205, Smith College 

During the third century BCE, the Ptolemaic state created a network of forts and waystations that linked the Red Sea coast with the Nile Valley by providing support to caravans crossing the mountainous Eastern Desert. These remote outposts varied in size and infrastructure but shared a common purpose—to facilitate travel and protect state interests in the resources of the region and lands beyond, especially the horn of Africa and lands to the south. The population of these desert fortresses is revealed both through the rich textual record provided by ostraca recovered in the trash dumps and rooms, but also the material traces of the fort’s residents whose activities and connections are revealed through the contents of the abandoned quarters. Through this material, we discover a diverse community of transients that includes Egyptians, nomadic desert-dwellers and emigres from the Mediterranean and beyond.

Please note: audience masking is required.

Seeing the Roman Empire through Ancient Souvenirs

Kimberly Cassibry, Wellesley College Department of Art

Ancient Souvenirs

Date: Friday, October 21
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Herter Hall, Room 227, UMass Amherst

The UMass Amherst Classics Department invites Five College faculty and students to attend a lecture by Professor Kimberly Cassibry, the author of the recent monograph, Destinations in Mind: Portraying Places on the Roman Empire's Souvenirs (OUP, 2021).