Papers, Projects, and Perspectives for Next Year…

This fall I was invited to present my research on campus in the spring. The talk will be to a general audience and sponsored by the Graduate School here at the University of North Dakota. There are relatively few opportunities for junior faculty to present their research on campus, so it’s an exciting opportunity, but I need to come up with a topic.  The process of thinking about a topic gave me a chance to reflect on my ongoing research and try to find a way to bring together my various interests or at least prioritize my research so that I can have a productive spring.

So, my research agenda in no particular order…

1. Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project.  As any reader of this blog would know, I co-direct the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project.  I am quickly learning that an archaeological project will expand to fill any time left unoccupied by other research or teaching demands (and it will often try to bully those projects to the sideline as well!).  That being said, the project also provides any number of opportunities for productive and interesting digressions ranging from methodologies, to general considerations of Cyprus in Roman Antiquity to more focused studies on Late Roman trade, ecclesiastical architecture, and the history of ancient Kition.  Moreover, my experiments with video, podcasts, and blogs have formed the basis for emerging ideas about narrative, archaeology, and the new media.  This would certainly be the most entertaining project to present to a general audience in that it could be rooted in narrative and include photos, videos, and even audio clips.

2. Early Christian Architecture in Greece.  I spent a good part of the last two years wrestling with my long moldering dissertation manuscript.  I have presented various fragments of it over the past few years to generally positive results, but as I spin parts off from it, the entire project begins to lose its conceptual cohesion.  Despite its conceptual fragmentation, I am working on a rather lengthy article which explores the role of churches in the process of Christianization in Greece.  I have posted versions of this work on this blog.  My most recent work has emphasized the role of churches as dynamic, hybrid space that served as a place of convergence for the many interests at play within Late Antique Greek society.  This work seeks to undermine the singular, hegemonic church so often portrayed in literary sources of the period and replace it with a more fluid institution which embraced ambiguity in its efforts to translate a universalizing discourse on a local level.

3. Dreams, Inventio, and the Memory of Early Christianity.  This project complements project 2 in looking at the remains of the Early Christian architecture in the archaeological record of Byzantine and post-Byzantine times.  I hold out the hope that I can somehow bring this project and project 2 together in a cohesive book manuscript.  I presented some of this research for the first time this fall at North Dakota State University and received some valuable feedback from colleagues there.  The core of this project is an effort to show that the massive number of basilica style churches built in Early Christian times had a profound impact on religious landscape of Byzantine Greece (and the entire Eastern Mediterranean).  At my most ambitious moments, I sometimes imagine that Early Christian architecture might have served as a vital filter between the remains and memory of Classical antiquity and the needs of Byzantine and even post-Byzantine society.  The frequent appearance of Early Christian spolia in Byzantine churches and their not uncommon appearance in Byzantine texts suggests that Byzantine society recognized the importance of the Early Christian period in the formation of their identity.  This challenges the more pervasive perspective that Byzantines sought primarily to establish ties to Classical antiquity.  In fact, I’d tentatively suggest that scholars’ tendency to overlook Early Christian spolia speaks more to the traditional aesthetic values of Byzantine architectural historians than those of the Byzantine architects.

4. The Continuing Corinthia.  I continue to dabble in the fortifications and landscape of the Eastern Corinthia.  Most of this is in collaboration with David Pettegrew and comes from our ongoing work with the data produced over the course of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey.  Some of this involves our work documenting an Early Modern settlement at a site called Lakka Skoutara.  We have documented this site over the course of almost 10 field seasons with particular attention to archaeological formation processes in the Greek landscape.  David has also helped me continue to document the fortifications of the Eastern Corinthia (Project Fortress Corinthia).  David Pettegrew and I will present some of our recent research in this particular direction next month at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.  I am also working with Tim Gregory to digitize and normalize the context pottery from the Ohio State Excavations at Isthmia.

5. Thivi-Kastorion Archaeological Project.  This is another archaeological reclamation project.  I am working to re-analyze survey data collected by the Ohio Boeotia Project in the vicinity of Thisvi, Boeotia with Tim Gregory.  We are collaborating with Archie Dunn who is conducting an archaeological field survey of Thisve/Kastorion, Greece.  Our hope is to produce new maps of the Thisvi basin that combine the archaeological data collected in the late 1970s and early 1980s by the Ohio Boeotia project and Archie Dunn’s more recent work at the site.

So, this spring one of these projects (perhaps more) needs to come together in an engaging public lecture (at least) and ought to move forward toward a publication phase (and to be fair some of these projects have some good traction right now!). 

  1. December 22, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Do you know my blog?
    It is about archaeology and much more…
    Vitor Oliveira Jorge

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