Workshop: The Economic Importance of Coastal Lagoons

Prof. Annalisa Marzano reflects on our most recent workshop:

On Monday May 23rd the Centre for Economic History, in collaboration with Reading Classics, ran a successful workshop entitled ‘The economic importance of coastal lagoons in antiquity and the Middle Ages’.

This workshop idea has developed from Professor Annalisa Marzano’s recent research, which has highlighted how coastal lagoonal environments and the natural resources they offered (eg, fisheries), have been neglected in research work on the ancient economy. This event brought together ancient and medieval historians and archaeologists not only to learn about recent research in these different disciplines and current approaches being used, but also to use information from the medieval period, when documentary data is more abundant and complete than for classical antiquity, as a proxy in studying the exploitation of lagoons in antiquity.

Two guest speakers came to Reading from Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, an institution with which the Classics Department has good research and teaching links, most notably with the collaborative masters’ course in ‘Ancient Maritime Trade and Navigation’. Professor Marzano opened the workshop with a paper on ‘Costal lagoons and large-scale fishing in the Roman Mediterranean: an underestimated resource’, arguing for the integration in the same fish-salting cycle of marine and lagoonal fisheries.

Dr Alessandro Rucco spoke on ‘Fisheries in the early medieval landscape of Comacchio (Ferrara, Italy)’, presenting some interesting data on the scale of human interaction in this very unique natural environment. Dr Cecilia Moine concluded the afternoon with a presentation on ‘Water exploitation in a changing lagoon: The Venetian area in the late Middle Ages’, which focused on fascinating archival material from various nunneries and monasteries. Among other things, we learnt that in the case of rent paid in kind to these religious institutions, the two most common items listed in the documents were wine and fish; this surely reveals something about life and diet in these religious houses!

It was a very fruitful afternoon, and the speakers and attendees enjoyed chatting over a cup of tea or coffee (after some struggle with an uncooperative pump in the coffee thermos!)

Forthcoming Workshop: Words, Numbers, Rationality

Words, Numbers, Rationality: The effect of accounting systems and language on economic and business decision-making

Friday 8 November 2013: Thet Win Aung Boardroom, RU Student Union

This interdisciplinary workshop, sponsored by the Centre for Economic History and the Economic History Society, will explore how, through the ages, language and recording systems employed at the time influenced concepts of economic rationality.

9.00 Coffee and registration
09:30 Mr M. Stringer (Reading) Sales, Costs and … Confusion? : Linguistic and accounting constraints on decision-making in Roman agriculture.
10:20 Dr A. Dobie (Stirling) Medieval Man, Accounting and Economic Rationalism.
11.00  Coffee break
11:30 Prof. R. Macve (LSE) A genealogy of myths about the rationality of accounting in the West and in the East.
12:10 Dr O. Gelderblom (Utrecht) The public support of private accounting as the key to understanding the commercial expansion of Europe before the Industrial Revolution.
13.00: Lunch break
14:15  Prof. G. Waymire (Emory) The Impact of hard information on self-dealing, soft communication, and social gains in an investment-trust game.
15:00 Prof. S. Basu (Temple) Knowledge, mental memory and accounting transaction records.
16:15 Round Table Discussion with M. Casson (Reading), K. Verboven (Ghent), D. Mullins (Oxford), and A. Marzano (Reading)

There are still places available for this workshop and there is no registration fee. If interested in attending, for catering purposes, please register by emailing Mr Stringer.

The Garden in Antiquity: A Workshop at the Fondation Hardt

Prof. Annalisa Marzano at the Fondation Hardt

Prof. Annalisa Marzano at the Fondation Hardt

From August 19 to 23, 2013 the Fondation Hardt pour l’étude de l’Antiquité Classique in Geneva hosted the 60th Entretiens sur l’Antiquité classique on the theme ‘The Garden in Antiquity,’ organized by Kathleen Coleman. Papers covered different historical periods, starting with the gardens of ancient Mesopotamia and ending with the early Christian period. Prof. Marzano was part of the lucky group of invited speakers who could enjoy the Fondation’s superb hospitality, the villa’s fine grounds, and, last but not least, the cook Heidi’s excellent dishes. She spoke on ‘Roman gardens, military conquests, and elite self-representation’, exploring the reasons behind ‘botanical imperialism’, such as the case of general Lucullus introducing into Italy the sour cherry tree from Pontos, and elite interest in grafting (according to Pliny, even someone like Pompey the Great had time to graft a new variety of fig tree). The event was very successful and now the volume is being prepared for publication in 2014.

The speakers of the 60th Entretiens and organizers, from left to right: Évelyne Prioux, Pierre Ducrey (Director of the Fondation), Stephanie Dalley, Christian Loeben, Kathleen Coleman, Annalisa Marzano, Bettina Bergmann, Giulia Caneva, Robin Lane Fox, Rabun Taylor.

The speakers of the 60th Entretiens and organizers, from left to right: Évelyne Prioux, Pierre Ducrey (Director of the Fondation), Stephanie Dalley, Christian Loeben, Kathleen Coleman, Annalisa Marzano, Bettina Bergmann, Giulia Caneva, Robin Lane Fox, Rabun Taylor.

The Fondation was created by Baron Kurd von Hardt. In his vision, the exchange of ideas among international scholars was crucial in order to advance knowledge. He described the Entretiens, first held in 1952, with these words: ‘Each year, at the Fondation’s home in Vandœuvres, the Entretiens sur l’Antiquité classique will be held, during which specialists from all over the world will speak about their chosen fields, and in the course of further discussions, will thus foster an enriching exchange of views’. The Fondation has a specialized library of almost 40,000 volumes and welcomes researchers who wish to stay in order to pursue their studies; research scholarships are available for young scholars. Our own PhD student Maria Lloyd was awarded one of these scholarships and will be going to the Fondation in October.

 

New Monographs by Reading Classicists

Reading’s Department of Classics is delighted to welcome the two most recent additions to our Faculty bookshelf by Prof. Annalisa Marzano and Dr Katherine Harloe:

Harvesting the SeaProf. Annalisa Marzano published her monograph ‘Harvesting the Sea. The Exploitation of Marine Resources in the Roman Mediterranean‘. Harvesting the Sea provides the first systematic treatment of the exploitation of various marine resources, such as large-scale fishing, fish salting, salt and purple-dye production, and oyster and fish-farming, in the Roman world and its role within the ancient economy.

Bringing together literary, epigraphic, and legal sources, with a wealth of archaeological data collected in recent years, Marzano shows that these marine resources were an important feature of the Roman economy and, in scope and market-oriented production, paralleled phenomena taking place in the Roman agricultural economy on land. The book also examines the importance of technological innovations, the organization of labour, and the use of the existing legal framework in defence of economic interests against competitors for the same natural resource.

WinckelmannDr Katherine Harloe published her monograph ‘Winckelmann and the Invention of Antiquity. History and Aesthetics in the Age of Altertumswissenschaft‘. This volume provides a new perspective on the emergence of the modern study of antiquity, Altertumswissenschaft, in eighteenth-century Germany through an exploration of debates that arose over the work of the art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann between his death in 1768 and the end of the century.

Winckelmann’s eloquent articulation of the cultural and aesthetic value of studying the ancient Greeks, his adumbration of a new method for studying ancient artworks, and his provision of a model of cultural-historical development in terms of a succession of period styles, influenced both the public and intra-disciplinary self-image of classics long into the twentieth century. Yet this area of Winckelmann’s Nachleben has received relatively little attention compared with the proliferation of studies concerning his importance for late eighteenth-century German art and literature, for historians of sexuality, and his traditional status as a ‘founder figure’ within the academic disciplines of classical archaeology and the history of art. Harloe restores the figure of Winckelmann to classicists’ understanding of the history of their own discipline and uses debates between important figures, such as Christian Gottlob Heyne, Friedrich August Wolf, and Johann Gottfried Herder, to cast fresh light upon the emergence of the modern paradigm of classics as Altertumswissenschaft: the multi-disciplinary, comprehensive, and historicizing study of the ancient world.

Communicating our research abroad: Dr Annalisa Marzano lectures in Tarragona (Spain)

Annalisa Marzano TarragonaAs part of the new Erasmus teaching exchange established last year with the Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica (ICAC) in Tarragona (Spain), Dr Annalisa Marzano gave a series of MA lectures at ICAC to students enrolled on the Classical Archaeology and Ancient History programme.

Dr Marzano’s four lectures on villas, settlement, and society in ancient central Italy featured as part of the intensive 8th International Seminar in Classical Archaeology (Jan. 31 – Feb. 1, 2012) devoted to Rural Settlements and the Transformation of the Landscape in Antiquity. The teaching programme featured also lectures on landscape archaeology, topography, palaeobotany, etc. given by researchers and professors from various Spanish universities and museums.

Dr Marzano had several meetings with colleagues from ICAC and other Spanish universities to explore new, or enhance existing, exchanges and research networks, especially for postgraduate students.

In May 2012 Dr Jesús Carruesco from ICAC will be visiting Reading under the Erasmus staff exchange scheme. Dr Carruesco’s research covers a wide range of topics spanning from Philology to Cultural Anthropology of the Ancient World. His main area of expertise is Archaic and Classical Greece, with a special focus on religion and modes of performance (social, ritual, and literary). We look forward to hearing his seminars in the spring!

Please follow this link for an Interview with Dr Marzano on the ICAC webpages.

Reading Classicists elected Fellows of the Royal Historical Society

Dr Annalisa Marzano and Prof. Peter Kruschwitz were elected Fellows of the Royal Historical Society in December 2011.

The Royal Historical Society is ‘the foremost body for those engaged professionally in the study of the past,’ as the Society’s website states. Those elected to the rank of Fellow must have made ‘an original contribution to historical scholarship in the form of significant published work’.

For further information see the wepages of the Royal Historical Society.