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Showcase: Excellence in UG Research @ Macquarie

By Departmental Research Seminar

Tuesday 6 August 2019 (Week 2), 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 to gain valuable presentation experience, feedback from those in attendance and to further bolster their confidence in original research.

Eva Rummery

De-scribing the Priestess: examining literacy in the role of the Entu-priestess in Mesopotamia

The texts written by women in ancient Sumerian culture only make up a small percentage of the thousands of translated cuneiform tablets inscribed across all time periods of Mesopotamia. This imbalance has raised the broad question in scholarship: how did this small group of female authors participate in this predominately male space, and what significance does this hold? This research will address this question by observing and outlining the role of literacy within the office of the entu priestess. This is achieved through examining archaeological findings and literary tablets, but especially focusing on new visual evidence. Moreover, this will investigate the representation and recollection of the entu in subsequent cultures and how this correlates with the uses of literacy in Sumerian mythology of the time period. By focusing on the entu, this paper aims to contribute a broader understanding of how women contributed to literacy in ancient history, and more specifically the role that female authors played within ancient Mesopotamian culture.

Chaya Kasif

Politics of the archaeological record: nationalism and ethnicity in ancient Israel

The study of history – ancient or modern – is an innately political act. As historians wrestle with the archaeological data they reconstruct the timeline of nations filtered through their own perceptions and motivations. These reconstructed histories become narratives that later inform ideas of modern nation states, identities and ethnicities. This can be observed in the study of Ancient Israel where influential scholarship has largely evolved from modern political circumstances. And the archaeological data has been deliberately interpreted to affirm these. This misrepresentation of the historical data not only has implications for modern national identities but also impacts historical study of Israel itself as well as the entire Near East, redefining the historical, cultural and ethnic landscape. As archaeology only reveals its message through its interpretation, it is particularly vulnerable to bias. Therefore, it is a duty of historians to aim for objectivity, and in pursuit of this it is imperative to employ a criticism of the power structures at work.

Stephanie McCarthy-Reece

Weeping for Adonis: women, war, and the Athenian Adonia

Very little can be definitively known about the Athenian Adonia; only glimpses of the festival are captured in the historical record. However, it is evident from the sources that the Adonia was a festival of communal mourning. This purpose of this paper is to re-evaluate the evidence with special reference to Aristophanes’ Lysistrata , and to challenge the modern conception of the Adonia. 

Bethany Harriss

Re-evaluating notions of Minoan dominance over the Bronze Age Aegean

The basis of my study was developed from a historiographical consideration of the scholarship concerning the Bronze Age Aegean in which the history and relationships were studied under the concept of a Minoan hegemony. Throughout much of the early scholarship, I identified several key flaws and concerns with the underlying principles biasing this assumption and, consequently, blurring the lines between fact and fiction in the history of the Aegean. With minimal literary evidence on offer, the primary sources I used in my investigation of the notions of Minoan dominance throughout the region in this period was archaeological, focusing on pottery, art and indications of trade, with a key focus on reciprocity and essentially ‘myth busting’ by examining the wider context of the artefacts to reconsider the wider implications. The results were astoundingly clear, with the Bronze Age Aegean being a region that shared cultural assimilation through a highly globalised and cosmopolitan trade network, with very minimal evidence or suggestions of a Minoan hegemony.

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