Climate, Disease, and the End of Rome?

New findings and old debates in the environmental history of Late Antiquity

6th of March 2019

Environmental change always played a significant role in the discussions on the causes for the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in modern scholarship. This has become even more true against the background of the debate on present-day climate change, as also reflected in the recent bestselling monograph of Kyle Harper (“The Fate of Rome. Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire”, Princeton 2017). The book, however, has found rather mixed reception within the community of environmental historians of Late Antiquity, which has emerged on the basis of a new cooperation between humanities and natural sciences during the last years.

The presentation will provide an overview of the state of the debate and the underlying methods and data across disciplines, covering a “Long Late Antiquity” from the crisis of the 3rd century CE to the 9th century CE within the Mediterranean and beyond. Besides climatic changes, epidemiological phenomena (such as the “Justinianic Plague”), “short-term catastrophic events” (such as earthquakes or floods) and the reactions of past societies to these challenges will be discussed.

Dr. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, Institute for Medieval Research/Division of Byzantine Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences (member of the “Climate Change and History Research Initiative” – CCHRI/Princeton)

Book your FREE tickets here: https://bit.ly/2HZDgQ9

Moore Auditorium, 6th of March 2019, from 18.15 to 20.15

Royal Holloway, University of London

Egham Hill, TW20 0EX

Egham, Surrey

Networked!

An Introductory, Hands-on Workshop on Network Analysis in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

07 March 2019

Networked! An Introductory, Hands-on Workshop on Network Analysis in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Social Network Analysis is one of the most vibrant and rapidly growing methodologies in the social sciences and humanities today.

This workshop will introduce the basic principles of this methodology, explore its potential for analysing social phenomena, and discuss the pitfalls of the approach.

You will also experiment with network software and learn to visualise and analyse connections.

This workshop assumes no previous knowledge and is designed to provide a general foundation for everyone interested on the topic, from undergraduates to experienced researchers.

Dr Johannes Preiser-Kapeller is Senior Researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

WETTONS-B Annex

Date: Thursday, 07 March 2019

Time: 11:00-14:00

This is a FREE event and lunch will be provided.

Register and let us know your dietary requirements by emailing Sapfo.Psani@rhul.ac.uk

Dr. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, Institute for Medieval Research/Division of Byzantine Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences (member of the “Climate Change and History Research Initiative” – CCHRI/Princeton)

Environmental change always played a significant role in the discussions on the causes for the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in modern scholarship. This has become even more true against the background of the debate on present-day climate change, as also reflected in the recent bestselling monograph of Kyle Harper (“The Fate of Rome. Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire”, Princeton 2017). The book, however, has found rather mixed reception within the community of environmental historians of Late Antiquity, which has emerged on the basis of a new cooperation between humanities and natural sciences during the last years.

The presentation will provide an overview of the state of the debate and the underlying methods and data across disciplines, covering a “Long Late Antiquity” from the crisis of the 3rd century CE to the 9th century CE within the Mediterranean and beyond. Besides climatic changes, epidemiological phenomena (such as the “Justinianic Plague”), “short-term catastrophic events” (such as earthquakes or floods) and the reactions of past societies to these challenges will be discussed.

Decoding the Past

Digital Tools for the Analysis of Historical Data

21-22 February 2019

Date    21 February 2019 from 11.00 AM to 5.25 PM and 22 February 2019 from 9.00 AM to 3.45 PM

Type    Workshop

Venue Room G21A, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

 

Description

Over the last decades the number of digital approaches to History, Classics, and other fields in the Humanities have grown considerably. Digital databases of texts and images now provide quick access to social, spatial, linguistic, and cultural data on an unparalleled scale. New techniques such as distant reading, GIS, and social network analysis also offer new ways and scales of interrogating the data. These digital collections and methods have been the product of considerable intellectual effort and research funding, and they have greatly contributed to advancing our knowledge on their specific domains. Nonetheless, many of these projects have operated in relative isolation from each other, being often only known to specialists, which has curtailed their heuristic and explanatory potential across disciplines as well as their relevance to the wider public.

This interdisciplinary workshop brings together scholars and software developers from a number of recent and on-going digital projects within the fields of Classics an Ancient and (early) Medieval History, with a particular emphasis on digital prosopographies. The aim is to present the projects and to exchange and compare experiences. Among the topics we hope to discuss are Sharing and opening data to non-specialist users; and using databases with Network Analysis and GIS.

The workshop is open, but as the number of places is limited, you are requested to register beforehand with Sapfo Psani (Sapfo.Psani@rhul.ac.uk).

David Natal Villazala, Royal Holloway­­
Onno van Nijf, Royal Holloway/University of Groningen

Networking Person-data: Interchange and collaboration
Gabriel Bodard, Institute of Classical Studies

The SNAP:DRGN project (Standards for Networking Ancient Prosopographies: Data and Relations in Greco-Roman Names) began as an infrastructural project (funded by the AHRC in 2014–15), which aimed to recommend standards for the use of Linked Open Data to interchange person-data between online prosopographies, onomastica, catalogues, and other databases containing information about people from the ancient world. SNAP also created and hosted a triplestore containing RDF data about a few sample person-databases (Trismegistos, LGPN, PIR², BM catalogue, VIAF), and a web-facing presentation of the approximately 700,000 individual records in the collection. A “cookbook” of guidelines for submitting new data in the SNAP format has been published alongside these preliminary collections.

In this presentation I shall discuss the objectives of the original SNAP project, including some assumptions about the modelling of person-data, and outline the state of play. Our current thoughts about the nature and availability of funding for large, relatively abstract or infrastructural projects such as the original plans for this work lead us to a new strategy. We now aim to take forward the essential work of establishing linked data standards, web services, infrastructure support and community engagement through a series of collaborative projects. To this end we are working on proposals with several partners who are developing applications for prosopographical, onomastic or biographical databases, for which the SNAP standards and infrastructure will be an essential component. We shall conclude with some discussion of the features of SNAP to which such collaborative funded projects could contribute, and will welcome suggestions and offers of cooperation.

Gabriel Bodard is the Reader in Digital Classics at the Institute of Classical Studies. He has a background in Greek religion and epigraphy, and worked for most of the last two decades in digital humanities, especially in the development of EpiDoc standards for the encoding of epigraphic and papyrological editions in XML. He leads the SNAP:DRGN project, bringing together multiple online prosopographical collections using linked open data, and is active in several other projects in the area of linked ancient world data.

Detecting and Analysing Gendered networks in Early Medieval Narratives.

The Leverhulme Trust-funded project Women, Conflict and Peace: Gendered Networks in Early Medieval Narratives analyses how historians and hagiographers in the early Middle Ages (fourth to eighth centuries) incorporated women and their networks into stories of conflict and peace-building, during a period marred by warfare and religious conflict. This paper will discuss the challenges involved in identifying and classifying such gendered networks in a selection of early medieval sources.

Máirín MacCarron is Senior Researcher on the Leverhulme Trust-funded project Women, Conflict and Peace: Gendered Networks in Early Medieval Narratives. She has published on women in medieval society, the development of chronology and computus in the early middle ages, and applying network science to medieval sources. She is co-editor of Maths Meets Myths: Quantitative Approaches to Ancient Narratives (Springer: Cham, 2017).

 

Presbyters and a database
 
The Presbyters in the Late Antique West Project, which I run at the University of Warsaw, collects the evidence on the second grade of clergy up to 700. Initially, we thought about producing a fully searchable prosopographical database which would use but expand the material provided by PChBE. This paper will tell how our main interest slowly shifted from prosopography to non-personal evidence, and how we produced a database which is different than we planned (and which can be consulted at:http://presbytersproject.ihuw.pl/).
 
Robert Wiśniewski is an associate professor at the University of Warsaw. His research is focused on the religious history of Late Antiquity and more specifically on the early Christian divination, the cult of saints, and the western clergy.
Connecting Late Antiquities: A New Prosopography Project for Linked Open Data
 
Connecting Late Antiquities is a new endeavour which plans to expand the resources available for prosopographical research in the field of Late Antiquity (c. 260-641). The first stage will involve the digitisation and integration of existing print resources, including the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. The second, more ambitious, part of the project will build on this material to create a single, expansive, unified prosopography for the whole period. We will be inviting compilers of other prosopographical databases to link their material to this resource, as well as connecting it to other relevant online gazetteers such as Pleiades and the corpora of literary, epigraphic and papyrological texts. It is hoped that this will enable greater potential for the discovery of related information, providing new possibilities for research into the connectedness of late-antique individuals and communities.
 
Richard Flower is Associate Professor in Classics and Late Antiquity at the University of Exeter. He specialises in the construction of imperial and ecclesiastical authority, particularly in late-antique invective and heresiology. His publications include Emperors and Bishops in Late Roman Invective (Cambridge, 2013) and Imperial Invectives against Constantius II (Liverpool, 2016).’
 
Modeling Society from Text: a Method in Arabic Studies
 
Arabic historiographical tradition is rich in texts, which preserve thousands of biographical records. While scholars recognized the value of these biographical collections for decades, their sheer volume posed a significant challenge and they remained largely impenetrable to traditional methods of historical inquiry. Only recently, with the digital turn, it became possible to tap into the potential of these valuable sources. After a quick overview of challenges, the paper will present a text mining method (algorithmic analysis) developed by the author and will highlight current results of analysis of 30,000 biographies from the period of 600-1300 CE.
 
Maxim Romanov is a Universitätsassistent für Digital Humanities at the Department of History, University of Vienna. His dissertation (Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, 2013) studied how modern computational techniques of text analysis can be applied to the study of premodern Arabic historical sources. Currently, he is working on the study of “The History of Islam” (Ta’rikh al-islam) by the Damascene scholar al-Ḏahabī (d. 1348 CE), which will serve as the methodological and infrastructural foundation for the study of the entire extant corpus of Arabic biographical and historical tradition. Additionally, he is working on a series of foundational projects for the field of digital Islamicate humanities, which include 1) a machine-readable corpus of classical Arabic texts (https://openiti.github.io/), 2) a large-scale text-reuse project (http://kitab-project.org/), and 3) a gazetteer and geographical model of the classical Islamic world (https://althurayya.github.io/).

‘Where are the Proxenoi? Presenting and Analysing Proxeny Data for the Ancient World (proxenies.csad.ox.ac.uk)

Proxeny was a Greek interstate institution which enabled city-states to construct links with individuals at other communities which has left a particularly rich record of evidence. In total we possess more than 2,500 proxeny decrees inscribed on stone and more than 3,500 attestations of this institution in total across the epigraphic record and literary tradition, ranging from the Archaic to Roman Imperial periods (c.600 BCE-200AD). This paper will present the database project Proxeny Networks of the Ancient World (proxenies.csad.ox.ac.uk). It argues that sensitivity to the composition of material preserved and careful use of relevant tools of Social Network Analysis can enable us to visualise the network of Greek city-states in a new, historically meaningful way, and that this should prompt us to interrogate the structures that we find.
 
William Mack, Senior Lecturer in Ancient Greek History and Culture, University of Birmingham
 
Since the publication of my first monograph on proxeny (Proxeny and Polis: Institutional Networks in the Ancient Greek World,OUP 2015), alongside the present database project, I have been working on a project on citizenship in the Greek Mediterranean with a particular focus on epigraphic evidence.

Towards a Prosopography of the Lascarid Period (PLAS): Challenges and chances

This paper aims to present the Prosopographical database of the Nicaean Empire (1204-1261) (PLAS: https://plas.openatlas.eu/), a project which combines traditional approaches to prosopography with the application of modern analytical tools. It includes the collection of prosopographical data for individuals of the first half of the 13th century; these data are then transferred into the open source database tool Open Atlas. In a subsequent step, the project analyses the entanglements of the registered persons based on Social Network Analysis (SNA). On the other hand, the geographical implications of human interaction are visualised and analysed with the help of GIS.
This presentation will focus on the challenges of collecting, interpreting and analysing prosopographical data from medieval sources with the help of digital tools. Despite the possibilities of modern technology, the role of the historian for the input of data and the evaluation of digitalised data is of immense importance. Finally, the paper will address the necessity of digital tools to be able to adapt to the demands of each project which collects big data for the analysis of complex historical processes.
 
Dr. Ekaterini Mitsiou (Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities / Austrian Academy of Sciences) 
 
Email: Mitsiou@em.uni-frankfurt.de;
             ekaterinimitsiou@assoc.oeaw.ac.at 
 
Born 1973, Ioannina (Greece), Dr. phil (Byzantine Studies), University of Vienna 2006. Dr. Ekaterini Mitsiou has worked on projects at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, in National Hellenic Research Foundation (Athens) and at the University of Vienna (Wittgenstein Prize Project). Currently she is a member of the project „Edition of Byzantine Legal Sources“ of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
 
Research interests:
* Byzantine Law
* Socioeconomic history of Byzantium
* Byzantine (female) monasticism
* Digital Humanities
* Social Network Analysis and Prosopography
 
Publications (selection):
Mitsiou, E., “Networks of Nicaea: 13th century socio-economic ties, structures and prosopography”, in: Liquid and Multiple: Individuals and Identities in the Thirteenth-Century Aegean, G. Saint-Guillan – D. Stathakopoulos (eds.), Paris 2012, pp. 91–104.
Mitsiou, E., “The Byzantines and the „others“. Between transculturality and discrimination”, in: Byzantium as Bridge between West and East. Proceedings of the International Confernce, Vienna, 3rd-5th May, 2012, Ch. Gastgeber – F. Daim (eds.) [Denkschriften der philosophisch-historischen Klasse 476; Veröffentlichungen zur Byzanzforschung 36], Vienna 2015, pp. 65-74.
Mitsiou, E., „Die Netzwerke einer kulturellen Begegnung: byzantinische und lateinische Klöster in Konstantinopel im 13. und 14. Jh.“, in: Abrahams Erbe: Konkurrenz, Konflikt und Koexistenz der Religionen im europäischen Mittelalter, L. Lieb – Kl. Oschema – J. Heil (eds.) [Das Mittelalter. Perspektiven mediävistischer Forschung. Beihefte], Berlin – München – Boston 2015, pp. 359-374.
Mitsiou, E. – Preiser-Kapeller, J., “Moving Hands: Types and Scales of Labour Mobility in the Late Medieval Eastern Mediterranean (1200-1500 CE)”, in: Micro-Spatial Histories of Global Labour, A. Gerritsen – Chr. De Vito (eds.), Palgrave 2016, pp. 29-67.
 
 
The “Database of Hellenistic Athletes”, created from 2016 to 2018, is a research tool to facilitate prosopographical studies in Greek athletics. It provides information on all known participants of hippic and gymnic competitions in the period from 336 to 30 BC.
 
A new database on gladiatorial tombstones is currently in preparation. It aims to collect and structure information from all gladiatorial tombstones found in the Roman Empire and to allow prosopographical research on gladiators.

The most important challenges have been the standardisation of data and the integration of maps.
 
www.connectedcontests.org: towards an on-line agonistic database for the ancient world.
 
Max-Quentin Bischoff studied History and Business Administration at the University of Mannheim and the University of Bergen. He is currently graduate student and research assistant for historical databases at the Chair for Ancient History in Mannheim.
Modern sport has become a global phenomenon that entangles politics, economics, mass media, and social networks. A similar globalising development can be seen in the case of sport in the ancient world with games at Olympia and elsewhere uniting the wider (Greek) world. Our new project Connecting the Greeks will study the rise of this phenomenon in the Hellenistic period. It will focus in particular on athletes and other performers who were the critical agents of the Greek festival connectivity.
Central to our project will be an online database of individuals involved in contests throughout the Hellenistic and subsequent Roman eras. Geographical information will link people to places, allowing for use in network and spatial analyses. This website will produce geographical/chronological distribution maps that demonstrate the relative network centrality of athletes, performers or contests and their hosting cities. It will be able to link to, and contribute, to other major initiatives in the field of digital humanities for Classics and Classical studies, Geographical Information Systems (e.g. Pleiades), as well as to important new projects in the field of ancient prosopography (e.g. Trismegistos).
 
Christina Williamson Bio
 
Christina Williamson is currently assistant professor in ancient history at the University of Groningen. She has a background in art, archaeology and information technology. Her PhD, completed in 2012 at the University of Groningen, focused on the role of sanctuaries in developing cities in Hellenistic Asia Minor. In 2014-15 she was awarded a research grant from the Netherlands Science Organization (NWO) for the project “Commanding Views. Monumental landscapes and the territorial formation of Pergamon, 3rd to 2nd centuries BC”, based on visual analyses and GIS, and conducted at the Joukowsky Institute for the Archaeology of the Ancient World at Brown University (US). Her current project, which she co-directs with Onno van Nijf, “Connecting the Greeks: multi-scalar festival networks in the Hellenistic world” is also funded by NWO and concerns the role of festivals in creating social networks that spanned the post-classical world. She is  and has widely published on all of these topics.
Onno van Nijf Bio
Onno van Nijf is professor of Ancient History at the University of Groningen, and currently a British Academy visiting fellow at Royal  Holloway and the Institute of Classical Studies. He is currently directing a Research Project on Hellenistic Festival Connectivity www.connectedcontests.org
 

Pelagios: LOD for the ancient world

Pelagios is an international digital humanities project, currently funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It aims to facilitate the creation, visualisation and exploration of connections among historical digital resources, mainly based on their common geographical references. Pelagios’ free tools, Recogito and Peripleo, exploit the power of Linked Open Data to make historical documents more accessible and to offer new keys to investigate them. The online tools support collaboration, and help lowering barriers for researcher that are less familiar with formal machine languages (such as RDF, XML, Geo-JSON).”

Valeria Vitale joined the ICS in January 2017 as a Research Fellow on the A. W. Mellon funded project Pelagios Commons, for which she worked as Community Manager and part of the investigative team. After her degree in Communication Science awarded by La Sapienza University in Rome, she worked for several years on the study and promotion of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, with major Italian cultural institutions. In 2012 she graduated with an MA  in Digital Humanities at King’s College London, where she also completed her PhD on the use of Linked Open Data to document 3D visualisations of ancient cultural heritage. Her case study was the Temple of Isis in Pompeii, its variant restoration hypotheses and multiple cultural interpretations. Her doctoral research involved the development of a documentation standard for scholarly 3D visualisation called SCO3CH.
She has an extensive experience in teaching 3D tools and methods to humanists and showing how spatial technologies can enhance the study and understanding of the Past. Valeria has also collaborated with various digital projects that focus on ancient geography, including the Heritage gazetteer of Cyprus, i.Sicily, the Pleiades Gazetteer and  the Heritage Gazetteer of Libya. She co-directed the CALCS (Cross-cultural AfterLife of Classical Sites) project in 2016.

This paper will briefly present Trismegistos (www.trismegistos.org), which aims to be a comprehensive portal providing easy access to the sources of the ancient world (between roughly 800 BC and AD 800). It will focus on three things: 1) the prosopographical section TM People; 2) our SNA-experiments and TM Networks; and 3) the new website which focuses more on accessibility and user-friendliness. 

Mark Depauw is a professor of ancient history at KU Leuven, and has formerly worked in Brussels, Oxford and Cologne. Trained as a classicist and egyptologist, his sympathy for the underdog led him to make Demotic his speciality. The idea to set up a platform to facilitate access to less-known languages and scripts eventually resulted in the platform Trismegistos (www.trismegistos.org), of which he is currently the director. As a digital humanist his focus is on relational databases and to a lessor degree networks.

Creating a Digital Prosopography of the Roman Republic. 

The paper will introduce the recently completed digital prosopography of the Roman republic,  DPRR, which was developed by a team at King’s College London, outlining the aims of the project and as well as the various technical and academic challenges it faced. 

Participants in the seminar may explore the online resource at romanrepublic.ac.uk

Henrik Mouritsen is professor of Roman history at King’s College London. He has published widely on topics ranging from Pompeii, Latin inscriptions, Roman Italy, slaves and freedmen and politics in the Roman republic. Between 2013 and 2017 he led an AHRC funded project in collaboration with Digital Humanities at King’s aimed at producing a digital prosopography of the Roman republic. The database which includes all known members of the Roman republican elite was launched April 2017 and can be explored via the public search page romanrepublic.ac.uk.

Connected Clerics (CONNEC). An Online Database of Late Antique Ecclesiastical Networks

The late antique Catholic church consolidated as a supra-regional institution with increasingly formal regulations at precisely the time when the western Roman Empire disintegrated into a mosaic of independent kingdoms. This project studies how ecclesiastical offices developed in such a context of political fragmentation. We will test the hypothesis that, despite considerable regional diversity, informal relationships among distant clerics were key in the dissemination of common ecclesiastical laws, visions of the church, and patterns of clerical behaviour.

 An essential component of this project is the construction of a database that will store prosopographical and relational data of late antique clerics. We are using OpenAtlas (www.openatlas.eu), an application that facilitates the analysis and visualisation of social relationships and geospatial data. CONNEC’s database will allow online access and usage of the stored data, thus contributing to current and emerging projects in the area such as ‘The Late antique Presbyters’ and ‘The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire’.

David Natal

Personal profile

Before joining the department at Royal Holloway, I was postdoctoral researcher at the University of Limoges and at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. I also taught modules on Roman, late antique, and early medieval History at the Universities of Manchester and Salamanca.

Research interests

My research has focused on the social history of late antiquity, with special attention to the western, Latin-speaking part of the Roman Empire. 

In my first monograph, I used sociological theories to analyse the impact of Christian asceticism and personal charisma in the construction of clerical authority. Ever since, my interest in bringing the contributions of other Social Sciences into historical analysis has largely shaped my research agenda.

My early postdoctoral research focused on conflict management and revealed the cohesive effects of social competition, which sometimes forced late antique individuals to look for new alliances beyond their existing connections.These results led me to explore network theory and software as tools for analysing social dynamics.

My current project  analyses how a ‘universal’ late antique Church was constructed despite the context of political fragmentation that precipitated the end of the Western Roman Empire and its division into smaller polities. I head a team comprising five researchers and three software developers. During the next five years (2018-2022), we will adapt existing network analysis and GIS software and will explore how informal relationships among distant clerics contributed to disseminating common ecclesiastical laws, visions of the church, and patterns of clerical behaviour, which ultimately strengthened a supra-regional ecclesiastical organisation. This project is funded by the ERC-Starting Grant scheme (€1,465,316) and hosted at Royal Holloway, University of London and at the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities (Vienna).

Victoria Leonard

Victoria Leonard is a postdoctoral researcher in late ancient history, as part of the ERC-funded project ‘Connected Clerics. Building a Universal Church in the Late Antique West (380-604 CE)’, at Royal Holloway, University London and the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities (ACDH-ÖAW), Austrian Academy of Sciences (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften). 

Victoria’s role within the project involves compiling data on clerical connections and using adapted digital tools to examine and visualize evolving clerical networks in the late ancient and early medieval western Mediterranean. 

Victoria’s research focuses on four main areas: i) social network analysis and digital humanities; ii) ancient and early medieval historiography; iii) ancient religion, particularly conflict and coercion; iv) and gender, sexuality, and theories of the body in antiquity.

Her monograph, In Defiance of History: Orosius and the Unimproved Past, is under contract with Routledge. The work explores Paulus Orosius’s historiographical approach to the deconstruction and reconstruction of a narrative of the past through the prism of Christianity. Victoria has published articles in Vigiliae Christianae and forthcoming in Studies in Late Antiquity and Gender and History. 

Victoria is also a Research Associate at the Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is a founding member, former co-chair, and steering committee member of the Women’s Classical Committee (UK). She teaches across the disciplines of ancient history, archaeology, and religious studies. She has convened modules  in material approaches to the ancient world and ancient religion, and has held teaching positions at Bristol and Cardiff universities.