2020, October 13

Dr Richard Jones (University of Glasgow) "The Persians in Greece: from Xerxes’ Canal to the Battle of Salamis" (on-line)

The Persian invasions of Greece in the early fifth century BC are very well- known events whose outcomes were of critical importance to Greece.  From the accounts of Herodotus and others we have a detailed picture of the strategy behind the invasions, the nature of the Persian army, and what happened at the Battles of Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis.  But what is missing is a sense of what the Persians brought with them to Greece or what they left behind - their material culture.  Using evidence drawn from fieldwork at Xerxes' Canal in northern Greece and underwater exploration off Mt Athos and off Salamis, this talk will explore why archaeology has apparently failed to find tangible evidence of Persian military presence in Greece.

2020, November 10
Dr Emma Aston (University of Reading) "How Thessalian was Jason?" (on-line)
Jason and the Argonauts are among ancient Greece’s most famous heroes, the subject of a ground-breaking 1963 film and a staple of children’s books of Greek mythology.  What fewer people know, however, is that Jason was Thessalian – from the region of northern Greece that also produced Achilles, the greatest Greek warrior at the siege of Troy. However, how Thessalian was Jason really?  Did the story of Jason in its entirety actually come from Thessaly, or was Thessaly used as the setting for its beginning because it was so suitable, as a land of mystery and magic?  What had the Thessalians – who took no part in the colonising movements of the Archaic period – to do with a story of travel to the Black Sea and beyond?  And, moving away from the question of origins, did the Thessalians ever try to claim or to ‘own’ Jason, to publicise his connection with their homeland? This paper reveals the oft-neglected local dimension of the myth, and explores the importance of Jason for how the Thessalians saw themselves and how they wished to be seen by other Greeks from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period.

2020, December 8
Nondas Pitticas (University West of Scotland), "Aegina, first capital of modern Greece, through the aeons" (on-line)
Aegina, is both a small island and a town at the heart of the Saronic Gulf, just 19 nautical miles from the port of Piraeus.  Acheans and Dorics passed from its ports, it became a historical predecessor to the hegemony of Athens and its people became rich by sea commerce.  It had its own fleet and many times surpassed the Samians and even the Athenians, with the most notable contribution of the Aeginian warriors to the battle of Salamina, whose 2,500 years anniversary will be celebrated next year.  In medieval times, Turks, Venetians and Turks again took their toll, until January 1828 when it became the first capital of modern Greece. Nondas has lived on this island for more than 60 years now and drawing from his own experiences, he will try to help us understand that this island combines great history together with natural beauty. He will take his audience ‘by hand’ to the ancient monuments of Aphaia and Kolona, the Byzantine ruins of Paliachora, the impressive church and monastery of Agios Nektarios and to the back streets of the town itself.

2021, February 9
Dr Guy Sanders (ex. Director of American Excavations in Ancient Corinth), "Day wages, pottery prices and household goods in archaelogical and historical context" (on-line) 
One of the most vexing questions faced by archaeologists working in countries bordering the Mediterranean is how to correlate the material remains that they excavate to individuals or groups of different socio-economic statuses. So while the activities of aristocrats are relatively easy to identify archaeologically, the other 95% of the population is largely invisible. A new approach to this issue comes from an analysis of historical documents from medieval Europe, which allow us to reconstruct the economic activities and average household possessions of the urban and rural poor. Using this new model, pottery and other archaeological data related to houses from various sites and periods can be evaluated to include (or exclude) evidence for the poor and middle classes.

2021, March 9 - Karkalas lecture
Petros Bouras-Vallianatos, "Treating disease in Byzantine hospitals"
This talk focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of disease in Byzantine hospitals (xenōnes). It uses evidence from the corpus of surviving Byzantine hospital recipe books (xenōnika), including all the edited and unedited examples. It also considers important non-medical sources, such as charters of medical institutions, legal sources, epistolography, and archaeological evidence. In this venture, particular attention will be paid to the role of uroscopy whether in conjunction with the examination of the pulse or not, in the diagnosis and prognostication of disease. In the field of therapeutics, importance will be given to drug therapy, whether allied with dietetics and surgery or not, the impact of Arabic versus classical pharmacology, the introduction of expensive exotic substances, and the development of existing and new composite drugs in response to epidemic diseases, such as the Black Death. Finally, recipes for women’s diseases will be studied closely in an attempt to shed light on the level of the individualisation of the patient.