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Showcase: Excellence in UG and HDR Research @ Macquarie

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 28 Aug (Week 5), 2-3.30pm

Recreation Room (S2.6), Level 3, Australian Hearing Hub, Macquarie University

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


As part of the core unit in the Bachelor of Ancient History, AHIS350: Advanced Reading Unit in Ancient History, students undertake extended research on a topic arising from a previously completed Ancient History unit. Students formulate a research project and present their results at a unit mini-conference held at the end of session convened by Dr. Lea Beness.

The Department of Ancient History is delighted to provide a forum for the following outstanding AHIS350 students and advanced PhD student, Natalie Mylonas, to gain valuable presentation experience, feedback from those in attendance and to further bolster their confidence in original research.

Carla Henery

  • Representations of Athena from the 6th to 4th Century BC
  • This research aims to examine the representations of the "grey-eyed Athena, the daughter of the aegis holding Zeus", is a topic that has largely been neglected by modern scholarship. There is very little information on the common Athenian's perception of their goddess and their relationship with her with the few surviving sources only presenting an elite, male perspective. Despite this, I will attempt to discuss some of the presentations, through an examination into the artistic and literary sources, and discuss why, in a patriarchal society, a female deity was so highly regarded, and the ways in which she was separated from her gender. I will begin my discussion of the representations of Athena with an overview of the mythology surrounding her and her birth as this would be the primary source from which writers and artisans would have gained their understanding of her and subsequently created their works based on this. Following this, I will discuss Athena in the literacy, particularly Greek drama, and the reasons that this cannot be considered representative of the perception of all citizens. Artistic depictions of the goddess will then be presented as will a discussion of the reasons behind them and the ways in which she successfully navigates the masculine sphere.

Penelope Blake

  • Ma'at in Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Case Study of 'The Eloquent Peasant'
  • The concept of Maat, representing truth, justice and order in ancient Egyptian philosophy, is a recurrent theme in works of ancient Egyptian literature. In particular, the text known as The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant considers many aspects of Maat which are infrequently represented in non-literary texts. Through linguistic and literary analysis, these thought-provoking ideas are revealed. At the core of the text is the tension between the supposed ideal state of Maat and its imperfect realization in the real world. Whilst in official texts Maat is often regarded as a state of perfect and enduring world order, in The Eloquent Peasant and some other literary texts, Maat is not guaranteed and must be continually maintained by human action. This belief may have resulted from the restructuring of philosophy in the Middle Kingdom following the political upheaval of the First Intermediate Period. The story thus puts forward a complex philosophical and theological conundrum, concerning the nature and impermanence of Maat, and the human, social responsibility for its endurance. Further examination reveals that The Eloquent Peasant also subtly hints at the solution to this problem which was formulated in Middle Kingdom philosophy, by drawing a surprising connection between the principle of Maat and the ancient Egyptian afterlife. The study demonstrates the value of a literary approach to ancient Egyptian texts.

Meredith Spadon

  • The Means of Reconstructing Ancient Roman Gardens
  • The study of natural history in relation to ancient civilisations is a relatively recent historical field, with much vital environmental information lost due in part to poor past preservation techniques and a lack of detailed site records. Given these limitations it is important to understand how credible interpretations of ancient Roman private gardens, at sites such as Pompeii, have come to be proposed. Studying ancient gardens provides insights into more than merely a culture's horticultural endeavours, revealing as well aspects of daily life, religious and medical practices, trade and urban development. By focusing on techniques applied at Pompeii it becomes clear how modern analytical research methods have been key to the study of ancient gardens. These are drawn from a wide variety of scientific, archaeological and historical fields to reveal the truly interdisciplinary nature of garden archaeology. As more methods are developed or adapted over time, gaps in absolute knowledge will shrink, and the more active these interactions become with archaeological, scientific, and historical techniques, the easier it will be to create accurate proposals of ancient Roman gardens for that ever-divisive end goal of a reconstruction.

Natalie Mylonas (FHEA)

  • "No Eye Pitied You": Emotions and the Formation of Social Status in Ezekiel 16:1-7
  • Ezekiel 16 and 23 are saturated with expressions of emotion and emotionally evocative content, including graphic descriptions of violence and promiscuity. While numerous scholars have acknowledged that emotions are an important component of Ezekiel 16 and 23, such acknowledgments have not been supported by analyses of the role of emotions in these chapters. In this paper I argue that emotions are not only crucial as part of the characterisation of God and Jerusalem, they also serve as an important rhetorical tool. I do this by analysing Ezekiel 16:1-7 in light of research that underscores the function of emotions as tools which enable individuals to "negotiate their respective roles and statuses in a group" (van Kleef: 2016). Drawing on this research, I argue that emotions are fundamental in crafting the social status of God and Jerusalem. In particular, the emotions of compassion, loathing, and disgust work simultaneously to shape the characterisation of Jerusalem as socially inferior and of God as powerful. This characterisation serves as an important rhetorical tool that persuades Ezekiel's intended audience -- the exiled Israelites -- to feel remorse over their trust of foreign alliances rather than their relationship with God.

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Departmental Research Seminar

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.