CFP: Food and Drink in the Ancient World

Food and Drink in the Ancient World

Rutgers University, May 31 - June 1, 2019
Keynote Speaker: Kristina Killgrove, UNC Chapel Hill

Human activity is regulated by the constant need to acquire and consume food. Assuredly, food and drink played a significant role in antiquity just as now, and, since we all must eat and drink, we naturally become curious about what and how our distant ancestors ate and drank (Alcock 2006). The study of food and drink in the ancient world expanded tremendously in the 1990s and has continued to do so in the decades following (e.g. Davison 1997, Garnsey 1999, Wilkins and Hill 2006). This resultant trend is partly owed to a focus in research less preoccupied with the great deeds of great men, but one open to seeing antiquity as a period that offers a wealth of information on the varied life of the everyday world (Donahue 2015).

One does not need to look far in the corpus of classical literature to find mention of viands—there is animal sacrifice in the epics of Homer and Vergil, ever-flowing wine in the sympotic and love elegies of Alcaeus and Horace, conceited cooks in the comedies of Aristophanes and Plautus, and indulgence in the elite banquets of theDeipnosophistai and Satyrica. Beyond these portraits, there are ancient treatises specifically devoted to the topic of food and drink—both philosophical, such as Porphyry’s On Abstinence from Animal Food, and medical, e.g. Galen’s On the Power of Foods. In supplementation of investigations based on literary texts, archaeology has produced an immense amount of information for our understanding of consumption in antiquity. From grand tomb finds to the more ordinary discoveries of kitchen utensils, excavations have dramatically clarified our picture of ancient dining. Archaeozoology and archaeobotany have helped answer questions about ancient diets, as have the osteological analyses associated with bioarchaeology.

We invite abstracts for papers that explore the topic of food and drink through various disciplines, such as Classics, Archaeology, Anthropology, Food Science, and related fields. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

 -  The Ancient Mediterranean Diet

      -   Staple foods in the Mediterranean (wine, oil, and bread; cereals and legumes)

      -   Meat consumption, availability of seafood

      -   Specialized diets, medical approaches to nutrition (e.g. for the military, athletes, infirm)

 -  The Social Context of Food and Drink

      -   Sacrifices and offerings, public and communal meals

      -   Variations in diet based on social class

      -   Food supply and shortages, grain doles (e.g. frumentatioannona)

 -  Food as a Point of Contact, Creator of Identity, Delimitation of Otherness

      -   Import and markets, especially for spices and exotic ingredients

      -   Horticulture, soil chemistry, and cultivation of local specialties

      -   Taboos (e.g. beer and milk as barbarian; cannibalism as historical fact or political slander)

 -  Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages

      -   Wine and viticulture (e.g. merummulsum, and conditum)

      -   Access to potable water, aqueducts

      -   Drinking vessels (e.g. kylikesskyphoikantharoi, and their images)

Our confirmed keynote speaker is Dr. Kristina Killgrove, teaching assistant professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, research scholar at the Ronin Institute, and senior contributor to Forbes. Dr. Killgrove, a bioarchaeologist, will deliver a talk on Roman diet and its correlation to disease, climate change, and migration.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words (excluding bibliography) by February 1st, 2019 to rutgers.foodanddrinkconference@gmail.com. Be sure to include any audio-visual needs in this email. Papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length. Please include in the email your name, affiliation, and contact information. The abstract itself should be anonymous. Questions may be sent to the same email. Successful applicants should expect to hear back from conference organizers by February 28th, 2019. In addition to providing accommodation, we are looking forward to hosting an ‘ancient’ feast for the conference organizers and speakers.

(Written by Emmanuel Aprilakis and Nicole Nowbahar [PhD Students, Rutgers University])

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(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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Our colleagues at AIA have once again developed an online scheduling tool that will permit you to develop a schedule of events you want to attend in Chicago.  You can develop your schedule from lists of sessions, committee meetings, and special events organized by APA, AIA, and affiliated groups.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 12/24/2013 - 10:18am by Adam Blistein.

In my final letter to the membership, I would like to give you all an idea of where we are headed as an organization in the near future.  Our organization is evolving in an exciting way.  We are the heirs of a distinguished history of developing and supporting research and teaching in all the areas of our discipline, and we shall continue to foster those goals as energetically and creatively as we can.  In my last letter I referred to some of the most conspicuous ways in which we are fulfilling this vital part of our mission, in particular with support for L’Année philologique and development of the Digital Latin Library.  At the same time, we are taking seriously the commitments we made in the Gateway Campaign to making the world of classics and the work of APA members valuable to a larger audience, both within and outside academia.  We are in the process of journeying through that Gateway – including evolution of our name, our logo, our web site, our annual meeting, our organizational structure, and our advocacy messages.  No part of our new orientation involves abandoning our history and mission.  In fact, without the foundation of the scholarly and teaching work of our members, we would have little to offer. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 3:46pm by Adam Blistein.

Garrett Fagan recently posed an interesting question in his very useful discussion of the crisis in the humanities: “should we embrace the competition for students in a marketplace of majors?” That my answer is “yes” is probably evident from my last post, in which I urged classicists to participate in public discourse in order to insure that the public image of Classics is both attractive to our students and acceptable to their parents. Not everyone shares this view. Many scholars cringe at the economic and corporate metaphors that often cluster around this issue (“competition,” “marketplace”) and worry about the dilution of rigor and intellectualism they connote. But in my view we do not need to choose between “giving the students what they want” and our core values as humanists. We do, however, need to give ourselves permission to reconnect in our classes with the reasons most people are drawn to the humanities in the first place.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 8:34am by Curtis Dozier.

During the New Year’s Day edition of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, writer Frank Deford will report on a discussion he had recently with Professor Sarah Culpepper Stroup of the University of Washington about her 'War Games' course.  A University publication gives details of her course here.  After the broadcast, Mr. Deford's report will also be posted on the section of the NPR web site that archives his presentations. 

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:17pm by Adam Blistein.

Last week I saw something that I never thought I’d see: a new Greek tragedy. I don’t mean an adaptation of a Greek play or a modern drama inspired by a Greek myth. This was a new play, with no direct overlap with any ancient drama, but which was structured and written exactly like a fifth-century Athenian tragedy. The staging itself was in many ways very modern, but when you stripped that away and looked at the script itself, it was stylistically almost perfect. Okay, one could quibble: I’m not sure they could have staged it with just three actors; the choral odes were split across episodes (though they were composed in strophes and antistrophes). But everything else was pretty much spot on. We got formal features such as prologue, agôn scenes, stichomythia, messenger speeches, and sung monody. Even on the level of language and metaphor, there was little that would feel out of place if you tried to pass it off as a translation of an ancient text.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:15am by Laura Swift.

Why has the Titanomachy been so fascinating a subject for movies, TV, and video games in recent years?

Francisco de Goya, Saturno devorando a su hijo (1819–1823)In Greek myth, the Titans were the gods who ruled the cosmos in the generation before the ascent of the Olympians (Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, and the like).  The king of the Titans, Kronos, came to power by castrating his father Ouranos and held onto that power — in view of a prophecy that his son would overthrow him — by swallowing each of his children at birth.  But his wife, Rhea, replaced baby Zeus with a rock and hid him on the island of Crete until he grew strong enough to force Kronos to regurgitate his siblings, whom he then led in battle against Kronos and kin.  This battle, the war of the Olympians against the Titans, is called the Titanomachy, and can be considered the first war of Greek myth.  It takes up a full fifth of (what survives of) Hesiod’s Theogony, a poem about the birth of the gods (old-timey translation here), with a vivid description of the effects of Zeus’ prodigious use of the thunderbolt:

The land boiled, and every stream of Ocean, and the uncultivated sea.  The hot blast surrounded the earthborn Titans, unspeakable fire approached the bright sky, and the gleaming bright light of the thunderbolt and lightning blinded their eyes, though they were strong.  [Theogony lines 695–699, translation mine]

The Titanomachy ends with a victory for Zeus and the Olympians, thanks to the strongarm help of the hundred-handed monster-children of Mother Earth, who imprison the Titans in Tartarus, the deepest part of the underworld.

So much for the myth.  There are a number of treatments of the Titans in modern popular media.  And in almost every single one, the story is not the Titanomachy itself, but rather the reawakening or escape of the Titans from their prison, and the commencement or threat of a second war between Titans and Olympians.  It seems to me that this basic storyline, and the set of other plot elements that seem intrinsically associated with it, touch on a number of social/political anxieties in America today, as I’ll talk about in next month's column.  [Mega spoilers starting in the next paragraph!]

View full article. | Posted in on Sun, 12/15/2013 - 4:12am by T. H. M. Gellar-Goad.

There has been much ink spilt recently about a “crisis” in the humanities. In the New York Times alone there have been articles and a “Room for Debate” discussion of the “crisis.” Steven Pinker has weighed into the debate in The New Republic, generating ripostes from Leon Wieseltier in the same publication and Gary Gutting in the New York Times. Heated debate among readers can be charted in the comment boards attached to all of these publications.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:38pm by Garrett Fagan.

If you use Twitter and intend to share comments about the upcoming joint annual meeting in Chicago, please use the hashtag

#aiaapa

We have consulted with our colleagues at the AIA, and they have agreed to recommend its use to their members as well.  This hashtag has been in use for at least the last two joint meetings, and we hope that Twitter users will adopt it this year as well.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:33am by Adam Blistein.

Read a review of Jürgen Leonhardt's Latin: Story of a World Language (Harvard University Press) in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education.

View full article. | Posted in Book Reviews on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 9:35am by Information Architect.

The American Philological Association (APA) will present the following awards at the Plenary Session of its 145th Annual Meeting in Chicago.  Click on the name of each award winner to read the citation for his or her award.

President's Award (honors an individual, group, or organization outside of the Classics profession that has made significant contributions to advancing public appreciation and awareness of Classical antiquity)

Daniel Mendelsohn

Distinguished Service Awards (awarded occasionally for extraordinary service to the profession of classics and the American Philological Association)

Ladislaus J. Bolchazy

Charles J. Goodwin Award of Merit (for an outstanding contribution to classical scholarship published by a member of the Association within the preceding three years)

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Sun, 12/08/2013 - 10:04pm by Adam Blistein.

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