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Hybrid Conference: A Hellenistic Revolution? Objects and Change in Afro-Eurasia from the 3rd to 1st centuries BC

An international conference organised in the framework of the Leiden University VICI project Innovating Objects. The impact of global connections and the formation of the Roman Empire
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From around 200 BC onwards we witness an unprecedented intensification of connectivity all across Afro-Eurasia. People in the period clearly were aware of what they were living through. In his World History, written in ca. 150 BC, Polybius (Histories 1.3) remarks: “From this point onwards history becomes one organic whole: the affairs of Italy and Africa are connected with those of Asia and of Greece, and all events bear a relationship and contribute to a single end”. The 3rd to the 1st centuries BC indeed set a decisive stage in the interconnection of the different Afro-Eurasian spheres. As a result, the oikumene is characterised by expanded geographies, heightened cultural interconnectedness, dramatic changes and enduring innovations more than ever before.

This watershed has so far been studied mainly along geographical and disciplinary boundaries. Lacking is a comparative, global study of this 200 BC shift from a bottom-up perspective. It is the aim of the conference to prudently work towards such a global panorama by not only integrating the traditionally divided Hellenistic (Latin) West with the Hellenistic (Greek) East, but also by drawing in Northern Africa, Egypt and Central Asia. To achieve this, we have selected a wide range of sites and regions, from all over Afro-Eurasia, where we can document and study changes taking place from the 3rd to the 1st centuries BC. Objects and objectscapes will be central to our investigation. These changes will undoubtedly vary from region to region and even from site to site. However, the panorama provided by our conference will allow us to investigate (and question) causalities between similar processes taking place far from one another, as well as assessing regional forms and trajectories such developments could take. Can we really speak about a global Hellenistic Revolution?



Book of abstracts


Thursday, 17 March 2022

All papers are 30 minutes with 15 minutes for discussion on each individual paper

9.00-9.05 T.D. Stek (KNIR, Rome), Welcome
9.05-9.30 M.J. Versluys (Leiden), Introduction. Objects and Change in Afro-Eurasia from the 3rd to 1st centuries BC: A global Hellenistic Revolution?


M. Stark (Hawai’i), Global Changes in Monsoon Asia from the 3rd to 1st centuries BCE


A. Bauer (Stanford), Ritualized Production and Cultivated Distinctions on the Early Deccan: Re-Centering Perspectives of Early Historic (ca. 500 BCE – CE 500) Indian Ocean Trade
Coffee break
11.30-12.15 M. Pitts (Exeter), A Hellenistic revolution in the West? Wine amphorae and the excitation of objectscapes in Gaul and Britain from 200 BCE
12.15-13.00 T. Schattner (Madrid), Roads to Individuality and Homogenization – The Iberian peninsula around the turn of eras
13.00-13.45 R. Henzel (Leiden), Changes in the Objectscape of Rome and Central Italy in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC
Lunch break at the KNIR
14.45-15.30 J.R.W. Prag (Oxford), Sicily between ‘-isations’: finding a way out of the impasse?
15.30-16.15 J.C. Quinn (Oxford), More Monumental Power: Globalisation at a Regional Scale in Hellenistic North Africa
16.15-17.00 R. Krumeich (Bonn), Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit. Cultural contacts and self-Hellenization in the center of Hellenism
Coffee break


N. Terrenato (Michigan), Concluding discussion Day 1 on Western Afro-Eurasia
18.15 > Rinfresco kindly offered by the KNIR


Friday, 18 March 2022




M. Blömer (Münster) – M.J. Versluys (Leiden), Anchoring innovation at the Euphrates. Commagene and the global Hellenistic revolution
9.45-10.30 O. Tal (Tel Aviv) – A. Lichtenberger (Münster), Nysa-Scythopolis (Tell Iẓṭabba): A Seleucid Newly Founded Settlement in the Near East and Its Material Culture in a Global Perspective
Coffee break
11.00-11.45 K. Stevens (Oxford), Objects and culture in Hellenistic Babylonia


11.45-12.30 V. Messina (Turin), A Journey with Dionysus. The moving models of Hellenistic kingship. From Seleucia on the Tigris to Parthian Nisa


J. Ma (New York), Asia Minor and its global second century BCE: intensification, connectivity and Afro-Eurasian networks
Lunch break at the KNIR


G. Lindström (Berlin), Objects and beyond: Ritual practice and innovative production techniques in Hellenistic Bactria (328-c. 140 BC)


M. Hoo (Freiburg i.Br.), A Hellenistic revolution in Central Asia? Material claims to Eurasian localism in the second century BCE
Coffee break


S. Hauser (Konstanz), Concluding discussion Day 2 on Eastern Afro-Eurasia


J.G. Manning (Yale), General conclusion and discussion on the ‘Hellenistic Revolution’ in the context of global history