Next week in Dura-Europos!

Despite the title of this post, I am not going to Syria next week (at least not physically). Instead I am going to Connecticut. I am attending the conference Dura-Europos: Past, Present, Future at the Yale University Art Gallery.

I’ll be giving a talk, growing out of my current research project on Mikhail Rostovtzeff, entitled “‘Dura and the Problem of Parthian Art’ (almost) a Hundred Years Later.” It’s a vague title to be sure (since when I provided the title I wasn’t yet sure what the talk would be about!), but I will focus on why Rostovtzeff’s essay ‘Dura and the Problem of Parthian Art’ is still important for the study of ancient Iranian art, even though the details of his argument have long since been superseded.

I am looking forward to the conference very much, but I am also intimidated by sharing a panel with Jaś Elsner! It’s like I’m George Thorogood opening for the Rolling Stones in 1981. Not that I mind in the least being George Thorogood; in fact, I like to drink ‘the George Thorogood:’ one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.

The First Strike

Much as I enjoy it, this post is not about the Jackie Chan movie (although I recommend it wholeheartedly). Instead, I wish to commend to you a post by my friend Jenny Cromwell (a papyrologist at Manchester Metropolitan University) on the first labor action in recorded history, carried out by the workmen at Deir el-Medina during the reign of Rameses III (ca. 1184–1153 BCE). The workmen, who were responsible for building and maintaining the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, went on strike because they had not been paid, and since the Egyptian economy at that time worked primarily on the basis of staple finance, wages were paid in food. Jenny’s post is a concise and interesting read that makes good sense of difficult evidence, and I recommend it unreservedly.

(I couldn’t resist)