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Online workshop organized by Irene de Jong (professor of Ancient Greek UvA, ASH) and Miguel John Versluys (professor of mediterranean archaeology UL) on Friday January 22.

One of the ways in which cultures in the ancient world get into contact with new artifacts is the well known habit of plundering and taking home (precious) objects from the defeated enemy. Traditionally this praxis has been studied in terms of war and pillage. Recently the emphasis of scholarly research has shifted from the battlefield itself towards the, often major, impact of these new artefacts for the societies that obtained them through their despoliation.. A key-concept to understand the impact of these objects is appropriation. Investigating the dynamics of appropriation allows us to understand the way in which these artefacts were incorporated in the own society; a process in which they had to change from foreign/outside to domestic/inside.

                In this workshop a number of long and significant spolia scenes from Greek and Latin literature, will be discussed by specialists from different backgrounds (historians, archaeologists, literary critics and linguists). The aim of the workshop is to combine and cross-fertilize different approaches, so as to come to a better understanding of this intriguing phenomenon. Questions to be explored include the following: How are the spolia scenes embedded in their narrative context?; How are the spolia presented?; Are they somehow morally or emotionally or culturally evaluated by the narrator?; What do the spolia scenes tell us about the cultural dynamics of appropriation?; What do they tell us about impact?; Is the process of appropriation also somehow part of the narrative itself?; What can we say about these scenes in relation to the wider historical context in which they occur?

                For more information about the programme and participation, mail to 



We will discuss five spolia scenes. Each scene is first discussed from a literary/linguistic perspective (20-25 minutes) and subsequently from a historical/archaeological perspective (20-25 minutes) before a general discussion.


Welcome & introduction: Re-reading spolia: objects as innovators?

(Miguel John Versluys)


Herodotus, 9.80-83: Persian objects entering the Greek world

(Irene de Jong and Janric van Rookhuijzen)

11.00-11.30 Break


Cicero, De Natura Deorum 31-35: Greek objects entering Sicily

(Christoph Pieper and Rebecca Henzel)


Polybius 9.10: Sicilian objects entering the Roman Republic

(Rutger Allan and Suzan van de Velde)

13.30-14.00 Break


Diodorus Siculus, 31.8.9-31.8.13 (+ Plutarch, Aemilius P., 32-34): Macedonian objects entering the Roman Republic

(Michel Buijs and Rolf Strootman)


Josephus, Bellum Judaicum 7.121-152: Jewish objects entering the Roman Empire

(Luuk Huitink and Eric Moormann)

16.00-16.30 Break


Intrusive objects and excessive agency: an anthropological perspective

(Pieter ter Keurs)



(Carrie Vout)


Concluding discussion moderated by the organizers.