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Dr Karin Sowada & Dr Gil Davis

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 12 March 2019 (Week 3), 2-3.30pm

The Department of Ancient History in conjunction with the Macquarie University Ancient History Association (MAHA) offers a research seminar series, intended to bring together those within Macquarie and outside who have an interest in the languages, histories, and cultures of the ancient world. View the schedule for the research seminar.

All are welcome! Please arrive on time and join us after the seminar for coffee, tea and biscuits!

Convenor: Dr Alexandra Woods Twitter


Dr Karin Sowada | Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Macquarie University

Connect with Karin on Twitter: Twitter

The Liquid Commodities Trade between Egypt and the Levant in the Early Bronze Age

The two-handled Combed jar is a ubiquitous hallmark of Levantine trade during the Early Bronze Age. Many such jars are known from Old Kingdom Egypt, primarily from tombs at Giza and elsewhere. Thin-section petrography and elemental characterisation reveals that during the early Old Kingdom at least, jars were imported from coastal Lebanon. Yet little is known about their contents. Textual evidence indicates that jars were associated with the importation of oils, notably ’š-oil (coniferous oil or resin) and sfT-oil, but the scientific basis of this identification is slender.

This paper reports on a collaborative program of scientific analysis on residues from Old Kingdom Combed jars. A large corpus of material dating from the early Fourth to the late Sixth Dynasty is held in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, with a small number of vessels located in other collections. The dataset reveals a degree of diversity in the residues as suggested by the texts, and the likelihood of secondary re-use of various jars once the primary product had been emptied.

Dr Gil Davis | Macquarie University

Rites and Wrongs: the Vexed Case Against Nicomachus

Generations of scholars have noted the apparent weakness of the case against Nicomachus in Lysias 30 which revolved around Nicomachus’ role as part of a commission of anagrapheis appointed to write up the laws of Athens at the end of the fifth century BC. This was summed up in 2010 by Edwin Carawan who wrote that “it has proven difficult to determine just what crime Nicomachus was charged with”. It seems clear that the charge related to exceeding his mandate in writing up the state calendar, and the problem revolved around which source documents the anagrapheis used. However, in 2006 Max Nelson proposed a persuasive new reading of a critical early-eighteenth century emendation to the text which has the effect of restricting the source documents to kurbeis. Using that emendation, and building upon the scholarship of many others who have pondered this vexed case, in this talk I re-evaluate the text and associated physical and epigraphical evidence of fragments of the state calendar. I look at the motivations for the charge stemming from malice, loss of benefits and status, and the politics of the response of the Athenian democracy to oligarchic challenge in the febrile circumstances of the year 399, which saw the trial and execution of Socrates. This was mediated through the question of state responsibility for ancestral, but private, sacrifices. I conclude there is good reason to believe that Nicomachus successfully defended himself, but the calendar may have been cut back, rather than erased as generally believed.

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