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Classical Epigraphy

Postgraduate training

The department has a unique Taught MA programme [Ancient Visual and Material Culture], including a stream incorporating the Postgraduate City of Rome course at the British School at Rome [Visual and Material Culture of Ancient Rome] and short courses at the British School at Athens [Visual and Material Culture of Ancient Greece], ], in which students have the opportunity to specialise in Classical Epigraphy.

We regularly visit the British Museum or Ashmolean Museum as part of the course, so that students gain experience of studying inscriptions as monuments and not just as texts. The course is also adapted to suit the linguistic knowledge of the participants: even Beginners in Latin or Ancient Greek can enjoy studying Classical Epigraphy. Our postgraduates have also taken part in the British School at Rome Epigraphy Summer School and the Practical Epigraphy Workshops run by the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents. Taught MA students are eligible to apply to the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning for grants to support research beyond the syllabus content for the Taught MA (see report on the project, ‘The display of Greek epigraphical texts in Athenian museums’). Students taking this MA have gone on to complete PhD theses on Roman Cyprus, and the cult of Asclepius in the Roman world; others are currently engaged in PhD research on the interaction of Martial and epigraphy; Renaissance epigraphic manuscripts; inscribed sculptures of Archaic Greece. Please contact Prof Alison Cooley for further information.

Current research projects and collaborative work

Alison Cooley has recently completed a new edition of the collection of Latin Inscriptions in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (AshLI project), in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents and the Ashmolean Museum. This includes about 460 inscriptions, of all shapes and sizes. Some of the particularly noteworthy results of this research have been published recently in ZPE and Britannia.

Alison Cooley is also joint series editor, with Andrew Meadows, of Oxford Studies in Ancient Documents (Oxford University Press). The series includes the following recent volumes: Proxeny and Polis by William Mack (2015); Scribal Repertoires in Egypt, edited by Jennifer Cromwell and Eitan Grossman (2017). She is also a member of the international team of Année Epigraphique, producing the section each year on the province of Britannia, and is a member of the advisory board for the following research projects: 'Materiality and meaning in Greek festival culture of the Roman Imperial period' (PI Zahra Newby); 'Latin Now: Latinization of the north-west provinces – sociolinguistics, epigraphy, and archaeology' (PI Alex Mullen); 'Connectivity and competition: multilingualism in Ancient Italy 800-200 BC' (PI Katherine McDonald). She is a member of the advisory board of the Urbana Species series published by Quasar.

Naomi Carless Unwin has worked for many years on the epigraphy of Asia Minor, with a focus on the region of Karia. Her recent monograph, Karia and Krete in Antiquity: Cultural Interaction between Anatolia and the Aegean (CUP, 2017) examined the relationship between south-western Asia Minor and the island in the longue durée, with particular attention paid to the insights of epigraphy during the Hellenistic period. Her current research project, the Materiality of Festival Culture in the Graeco-Roman East, is focused on the epigraphy of Greece and Asia Minor in the Roman Imperial period, exploring what inscriptions can reveal in terms of the conduct of ancient festivals, and how they were used as monuments to shape civic and religious space. Naomi has also been involved in the excavations at Labraunda in south-western Turkey since 2009, with a concentration on the epigraphy of the site; she co-authored the publication of a new Hellenistic inscription from the sanctuary in 2016.

Suzanne Frey-Kupper is part of the collaborative working group investigating with Jonathan Prag, Filippo Battistoni, Alessia Di Martino, Lorenzo Campagna and others the Taormina Financial Documents. She is focussing on coin denominations, metrology and aspects on finances arising from the inscriptions. The studies on these extraordinary documents from Hellenistic Sicily will be published in a volume of the OUP series of Oxford Studies and Ancient Documents (see above).

Recent publications in epigraphy

  • (in press 2019) 'The Res Gestae in its provincial contexts', Lampas (A.E. Cooley) •
  • (in press) 'Two Latin Inscriptions from Ephesos in the Ashmolean Museum', in Brill Studies in Greek and Roman Epigraphy, eds C. Norena, N. Papzarkados (A.E. Cooley)
  • (in press 2018) ‘Breaking through the language barrier – bringing ‘dead’ languages to life through sensory and narrative engagementMuseum Management and Curatorship (A. Baker, with A.E.Cooley)
  • (in press 2018) ‘The curious case of Flora’, in Fakes, Forgeries & Issues of Authenticity in Classical Literature, ed. J. Martínez (A.E. Cooley)
  • (in press 2018) 'Monumental Latin inscriptions from Roman Britain in the Ashmolean Museum collection', Britannia (A.E. Cooley)
  • (in press 2018) 'New Approaches to the Epigraphy of the Roman World', Journal of Epigraphic Studies 1 (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2018) ‘Latin inscriptions in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford’, ZPE 205: 253-67 (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2018) ‘Re-Appraising the Value of Same-Text Relationships; a Study of ‘Duplicate’ Inscriptions in the Monumental Landscape at Aphrodisias’ in The Materiality of Text - Placement, Perception, and Presence of Inscribed Texts in Classical Antiquity, eds A. Petrovic, I. Petrovic, E. Thomas (Brill Studies in Greek and Roman Epigraphy vol. 11) (A. Graham)
  • (2017) Caria and Crete in Antiquity: Cultural Interaction between Anatolia and the Aegean, Cambridge (N. Carless Unwin) 
  • (2016) 'Mylasa and Krete: the context of the Mylasan 'Kretan dossier'', Revue des Etudes Anciennes Vol. 118, no. 2 413-442 (N. Caerless Unwin)
  • (2016) 'A new Olympichos inscription from Labraunda: I. Labraunda 137', with O. Henry, Epigraphica Anatolica 49 (2016): 27-45 (N. Caerless Unwin)
  • (2015) 'Paratextual readings of imperial discourse in the Res Gestae divi Augusti', Cahiers Centre Glotz 25 [2014] 215-30 (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2015) ‘Multiple meanings in the sanctuary of the Magna Mater at Ostia’, Religion in the Roman Empire 1: 242-262 (A.E. Cooley)
  • (2014) Inventive Inscriptions - The Organization of Epigraphic Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century, eds A.E. Cooley and D. Orrells (Journal of the History of Collections, special issue)
  • (2014) Pompeii and Herculaneum: A Sourcebook (2nd edn, A.E. and M.G.L. Cooley) (Routledge)
  • (2014) ‘Paratextual perspectives upon the SC de Pisone patre’, in The Roman Paratext: Frame, Texts, Readers, ed. L. Jansen (Cambridge University Press) 143-55 (A.E. Cooley)

Staff working in this area

Alison Cooley

Naomi Carless Unwin

Abigail Graham