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Department of Classics and Ancient History

Upcoming Events

Archelaos relief

The Materiality of Text - placement, perception, presence

24th September 2012, 13:00 to 26th September 2012, 16:00, Calman Learning Centre on the main university site

International Conference


Dr Edmund Thomas

Dr Andrej Petrovic

Dr Ivana Petrovic

In recent years, the study of ancient texts has gained from a focus on
the physicality of text. Epigraphists are interested more than ever in
issues of context, reading and performance. Furthermore, studies of architecture have fed on literary approaches to take account of displays of writing and their implications.

Two students bursaries are available for the conference thanks to the generosity of The Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies. If you wish to apply, please download the form (pdf and doc is available), fill it and send it to

If you wish to attend the conference, please, fill in this form and send it to

The project 'The Materiality of Text' brings together these cross-disciplinary approaches to focus on material aspects of the written word.

 Scholars from a range of disciplines, including philology, epigraphy, ancient history,archaeology and art history, will join us in discussing the physical aspects of inscribed texts in the Greek and Roman world, in Greek, Latin and other scripts, and their relation to literature, art, cultural history, and aesthetics. 

 Papers will address both theoretical approaches and individual case-studies, with the special emphasis on: the visualization of text in a physical context, monumental or miniature; the relationship of inscriptions to their support, including steles and statue bases; the appearance of inscribed text in buildings and their impact on the perception of architectural space; the form and varieties of lettering, the aesthetics of writing, and its implications for the reading of a text; issues of visibility and legibility; the role of inscribed dedications or commemorative texts in the perception of buildings sacred or secular; the placement and arrangement of inscriptions in public, religious or private space; the aesthetics of particular genres of text such as building contracts, epigrams and sacred laws; specific techniques in the display of prose and verse texts, ritual or magical use and performative aspects of inscribed texts; re-dedication and re-use of inscribed texts; and the use and contribution of specialized media of support from monumental bronze letters to miniature gold plaques and precious metals.

Keynote speakers:

Professor Joseph W. Day (Wabash College)

Professor em. John Mitchell (University of East Anglia)

Professor Joannis Mylonopoulos (Columbia University)

Professor em. Peter J. Rhodes (Durham University).

Conference programme 

Venue: Calman learning centre

Monday 24 September

13:00 - 14:00 Registration

14:00 - 14:15 Welcome and Opening

Session 1: Lettering inscribed: approaching the theme

14:15-14:45 Talk 1: Ségolène Tarte (University of Oxford), ‘Digitization and materiality: a case study on Proto-Elamite script’
14:45-15:15 Talk 2: Felipe Rojas (Brown University), ‘Greek, Roman, and Byzantine interaction with Anatolian Bronze and Iron Age inscriptions’
15:15-15:45 Talk 3: Athena Kirk (Washington and Lee University), ‘Inscriptions in Greek thought’

15:45-16:15 Tea and coffee break

Session 2: Texts in public space: the Greek and early Roman world

16:15-16:45 Talk 4: Elizabeth A. Meyer (University of Virginia), ‘The dromos inscriptions and the inscription of laws in early Athens’
16:45-17:15 Talk 5: Clemence Schultze (Durham University), ‘Fabricating records: texts on textiles in early Rome’
17:15-17:45 Talk 6: Cristina Carusi (Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington D.C.), ‘Athenian syngraphai: archives, stones, and politics’
17:45-18:15 Talk 7: Julia Shear (American School of Classical Studies Athens), ‘Phaidros of Sphettos and the politics of space and text at Athens’

18:15-20:00 Drinks and buffet reception

20:00-21:00 Keynote Lecture 1: Peter Rhodes (Durham University), ‘Erasures in Greek public documents’

Tuesday 25 September

Session 3: Texts in religious space: the Greek world

09:00-10:00 Keynote Lecture 2: Joannis Mylonopoulos (Columbia University), ‘Wasted words? Textual profusion in Greek sanctuaries’

10:00-10:30 Talk 8 Massimo Giuseppetti (University of Rome III), ‘Delphic Sotēria and the Athenian inscribed paeans’
10:30-11:00 Talk 9 Jan-Mathieu Carbon (University of Liège), ‘Inscribing sacrificial calendars’

11:00-11:30 Tea and coffee break

Session 4: Texts in literary space: inscriptions in Ovid

11:30-12:00 Talk 10 Stephen Heyworth (Wadham College, Oxford), ‘Hard texts and soft texts: Propertius to Ovid’
12:00-12:30 Talk 11 Jocelyne Nelis-Clément (University of Bordeaux III) and Damien Nelis (University of Geneva), ‘Time to write up: Ovid’s Fasti and the recreation of the Roman calendar’
12:30-13:00 Talk 12 Charilaos Michalopoulos (Democritus University of Thrace), ‘The aesthetics of (letter) writing in Ovid’

13:00-14:00 Lunch

Session 5: Texts in literary space: written in wax

14:00-14:30 Talk 13 Michael A. Tueller (Arizona State University), ‘The silent speech of Greek women’
14:30-15:00 Talk 14 Aglae Pizzone (Durham University), ‘Melting down the soul: memory, encaustic painting and letter-writing’

15:00-15:30 Tea and coffee break

Session 6: The aesthetics of the text: from performance to monument

15:30-16:30 Keynote Lecture 3: Joseph W. Day (Wabash College), ‘The “spatial dynamics” of archaic and classical Greek epigram: Conversations among location, monument, text, and viewer-readers’

16:30-17:00 Talk 15 Donald Lavigne (Durham University), ‘Impossible voices: Archaic poetics and epigram’
17:00-17:30 Talk 16 Saara Kauppinen (Finnish Institute at Athens), ‘“Is it not carved in stone?” References to monuments in the dialogue verse inscriptions’

17:30-19:30 Break (and exhibition in Palace Green Library for those interested)

19:30-21.00 Conference dinner

Wednesday 26 September

09:00-10:00 Keynote Lecture 4: John Mitchell (University of East Anglia), “Writing on the wall: the inscribed building”

Session 7: Texts in public space: the Roman world

10:00-10:30 Talk 16 Fanny Opdenhoff (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg), ‘Layers of urban life: a stratigraphic analysis of inscriptions in the public space of Pompeii’
10:30-11:00 Talk 17 Ida Östenberg (University of Gothenburg), ‘Damnatio memoriae inscribed: the materiality of forgetting and remembering’

11:00-11:30 Coffee break

11:30-12:00 Talk 18 Katharina Bolle (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg), ‘Material text-culture in late-antique Ostia: script-bearing monuments and their role as media of social interaction’

12:00-13:00 Lunch

Session 8: The aesthetics of the text: the later Roman Empire

13:00-13:30 Talk 20 Alexei Zadorojnyi (University of Liverpool), ‘The aesthetics and politics of inscriptions in imperial Greek literature’
13:30-14:00 Talk 21 Sean Leatherbury (Corpus Christi College Oxford), ‘Framing Christian euergetism: the tabula ansata and Late Antique mosaic inscriptions’
14:00-14:30 Talk 22 Fabian Stroth (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg), ‘The capital monograms in St. Sophia in Constantinople: Metamediality and the production of euergetic presence’

14:30-15:30 Table Ronde / Conclusions

15:30 End of conference


The conference is kindly supported by the Durham Department of Classics and Ancient History, the British Epigraphy Society and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies.



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