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Professor Barbara Borg

Professor

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Professor Barbara Borg

My field of teaching and research is Classical Archaeology, that is, the study of 'art' and archaeology of the Greeks and Romans.

I contribute to the understanding of the so-called Classical civilisations and their spheres of influence by focussing on visual and material culture as a source of information, thus supplementing the predominantly text-based disciplines of Ancient History and Classics. These sources provide insights into aspects of life, and groups in society, not covered by texts, or treated by their authors in a very idiosyncratic way. My teaching aims at providing the skills and techniques necessary to exploit these sources for anthropological and social history, and covers a broad range of subjects from archaic Greece to the later Roman Empire.

My research is characterised by an interdisciplinary and contextual approach, and focuses on four major fields: (1) The ideologies and value systems of the Romans as they are expressed through images (especially portraiture and funerary art), architecture, and epigraphy; (2) The language and 'rhetoric' of Greek and Roman images and the relationship between image and text; (3) Inter-cultural relationships, in particular the multi-cultural society of Roman Egypt; (4) Geo-archaeology, in particular the study of the provenance of marble, contributing to an understanding of ancient economies.

My latest project is a study of tombs and burial customs in Rome, which are an exquisite source of information for social history. A book on the tombs of the third century will come out in September 2013: Crisis and Ambition: Tombs and burial customs in third-century CE Rome (OUP).

I am now working on a book on second-century CE Roman tombs, and am editing a Blackwell’s Companion to Roman Art.

Among my previous publications, there are many German ones, but the following English publications may give an idea of my work and scholarly approach:

B.E. Borg (ed.), Paideia: The World of the Second Sophistic (Berlin 2004); my contribution "Glamorous intellectuals: Portraits of pepaideumenoi in the second and third centuries AD" pp. 157-178.

Who cares about Athenian identity? Athens in the first century BCE, in: T.A. Schmitz – N. Wiater (edd.), The struggle for identity. Greeks and their past in the first century BC (Stuttgart 2011) 213-34.

Epigrams, art and epic: The ‘Chest of Kypselos’, in: M. Baumbach – A. Petrovic – I. Petrovic (edd.), Archaic and Classical Greek Epigram. Papers of a conference on the archaic and classical epigram held in April 2005 in Giessen (Cambridge University Press, 2010) 81-99.

'The History of Apollo's Temple at Didyma, as told by Marble Analyses and Historical Sources', in: L. Lazzarini (ed.), Interdisciplinary studies on ancient stone. ASMOSIA VI; proceedings of the sixth international conference of the Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity, Venice, June 15-18 2000 (Venice 2003) 271-78 (with G. Borg).

I have been the recipient of several funded visiting fellowships: Spring Getty Scholar at the Getty Research Institute, Malibu CA; Senior Onassis Fellow at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; and Hugh Last Fellow, British School at Rome. I am a member of an International Network for the Study of Late Antiquity, and of the Leibniz Gruppe zum Nachleben der Antike. I am also a research associate at the Waterloo Hellenistic Centre.

Research interests

My research is characterised by an interdisciplinary and contextual approach, and focusses on four major fields: (1) The ideologies and value systems of the Romans as they are expressed through images (especially portraiture and funerary art), architecture, and epigraphy; (2) The language and 'rhetoric' of Greek and Roman images and the relationship between image and text; (3) Inter-cultural relationships, in particular the multi-cultural society of Roman Egypt; (4) Geo-archaeology, in particular the study of the provenance of marble, contributing to an understanding of ancient economies.

My latest project is a study of tombs and burial customs in Rome, which are an exquisite source of information for social history.

A book on the tombs of the third century will come out in September 2013: Crisis and Ambition: Tombs and burial customs in third-century CE Rome (OUP). The third century CE often appears to be a gap in cultural history, filled only by a series of disastrous proceedings that ruined what was left of former glory—that is, until an entirely new material culture emerged towards its end, like a phoenix from the ashes. The book challenges this view. Through a study of tombs and burial customs in Rome and its surroundings, of collective freedmen tombs, spectacular élite monuments, the nuclei of the catacombs, splendidly decorated sarcophagi, and image decoration on walls, floors and ceilings, it  demonstrates that the third century was an exciting period of experiment, novelty, and creativity, despite the various aspects of crises—or precisely because of them—, and that ambition continued to be a driving force and determining factor in all social classes who found innovative solutions to the challenges they encountered, and paved the way for the new system of late antiquity.

I am now working on a book on second-century CE Roman tombs (provisional title: The art of commemoration in second-century CE Rome), and I am editing a Blackwell’s Companion to Roman Art.

Biography

Academic Degrees

1999               Habilitation and venia legendi for Classical Archaeology at Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg,

                        Germany

1990               PhD at Georg-August-University, Göttingen, Germany

Acedemic Postitions

since 2010    Head of Classics, University of Exeter

since 2004    Professor of Classical Archaeology, Universtiy of Exeter

1993-2004    Teaching and research positions, including acting Head of Department and Director of the Collection of

                        Antiquities, at the Archaeological Institute, Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg