March 1st – 2nd, 2018OIS 2018 Poster FINAL.jpg
The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Organized by Aleksandra Hallmann,
Post-Doctoral Scholar


Clothes are often considered mundane, but they play a crucial role in people’s lives beyond only providing protection from the heat and cold. The meaning of a piece of clothing changes the moment it is worn, as it becomes associated with its wearer. Attire can demonstrate affiliation to a particular group, be it religious, political, ethnic, social, etc., serving as an important means to construct the self-identity of a person. In terms of social impact, attire can include, as well as exclude, an individual from a certain group, playing a part in acculturation or assimilation. In order to understand what clothes can reveal about the ethnicity, beliefs, social rank, profession and gender or age of the wearer, it is necessary to reconstruct its particular socio-cultural context and understand the non-verbal language the dress conveys.

The conference creates a venue for a multidisciplinary and comparative approach to dress studies in the ancient world. It brings together scholars working inside broad geographical and chronological frameworks but pursuing common themes in their research. It gathers specialists studying ancient attire from different perspectives and applying different methodologies. Non-verbally, attire conveys important meaning that must be decoded through various methodological approaches, be it an artifact, visual- or text-oriented approach. The fragmentary corpus of evidence available to assist in the study of ancient costume in different geographic areas justifies searching for cross-cultural patterns in dress behavior. The goal of the proposed conference is to construct (a) definition(s) of the clothed self and investigate multiple trajectories of the dress’ role in the construction of various identities in the ancient world. 

Participants (Respondents **)

  • Claudia Brittenham (The Department of Art History, University of Chicago)
  • Marie Louise Bech Nosch (The Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Ran Boytner (Institute for Field Research, UCLA), Hans Barnard (Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA)
  • Megan Cifarelli (The Art History Department, Manhattanville College, NY)
  • Jean Evans (The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)**
  • Benjamin R. Foster (The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Yale University)
  • Laura Gawlinski (The Department of Classical Studies, Loyola University, Chicago)
  • Margarita Gleba (McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, UK)
  • Ann C. Gunter (Department of Art History, Northwestern University, Chicago) **
  • Aleksandra Hallmann (The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)
  • Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (The School of History, Classic and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, UK)
  • Margaret C. Miller (Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia, University of Sydney)
  • Brian Muhs (The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)**
  • Jana Mynářová (Czech Institute of Egyptology, Charles University in Prague)
  • Robert Ritner (The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)
  • Gay Robins (The Department of Art History, Emory University)
  • Ursula Rothe (Classical Studies Department, Open University, Reading UK)
  • Allison Thomason (The Department of Historical Studies, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville)
  • Tasha Vorderstrasse (The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)
  • Rita Wright (The Department of Anthropology, New York University)**




Christopher Woods, Director of the Oriental Institute
Aleksandra Hallmann, Organizer, Postdoctoral Fellow, the Oriental Institute

Claudia Brittenham, University of Chicago
Jana Mynářová, Charles University in Prague


Ursula Rothe, Open University
Margaret C. Miller, University of Sydney
Aleksandra Hallmann, University of Chicago

12:30–2:00 LUNCH BREAK

Marie Louise Bech Nosch, University of Copenhagen
Laura Gawlinski, Loyola University, Chicago


Margarita Gleba, University of Cambridge
Tasha Vorderstrasse, University of Chicago
Ray Boytner, Institute for Field Research
Hans Barnard, University of California, LA




Allison Thomason, Southern Illinois University​
Megan Cifarelli, Manhattanville College


Benjamin R. Foster, Yale University
Robert K. Ritner, University of Chicago

12:00–12:15 Rita Wright, New York University
12:15–12:30 Ann C. Gunter, Northwestern University
12:30–12:45 Brian Muhs, University of Chicago
12:45–1:00 Jean Evans, University of Chicago



Participant Abstracts and Bios


Marie Louise Bech Nosch, University of Copenhagen, Denmark The Saxo Institute

Title: "Royal and Priestly Dress in Ancient Greece"

Abstract: Textiles and clothing are light and flexible materials which provide a basis on which techniques, struc­tures and images, as well as colors are illustrated, and which carry multiple messages on many levels. Color and pattern are distinctive signs of social hierarchy and send a visual message of belonging or of exclusion. Sizes, decorations, and techniques communicate their own language and meanings. In a partially illiterate society, tex­tiles and clothes are efficient tools for expressing power and legitimate authority.

In a recent research project, I have surveyed evidence for textiles, garments, and wardrobes for kings in Mycenaean, archaic, classical, and Hellenistic Greece. It seems that this topic had not yet been considered by many scholars, despite the impressive volume of papers on Greek monarchies. With a few notable exceptions, most studies of classical and Hellenistic kingships rarely deal with the subject of textiles and clothing. During my research on kings and textiles, as is often the case, the theme expanded and I became curious about the queens’ clothing, the court, the usage of textiles as a sign of royal benevolence, textiles as materialization of the royal investiture, and the endorsement of heritage by dressing up in the legitimate dynastic wardrobe. Here, however, I would like to explore one of these emerging themes: how kings’ garments relate to priests’ garments, how the combined royal and priestly functions are merged into one person, and whether the two functions are expressed in two distinct "uniforms" or are merged into one single royal and religious garment. In other words, did the gar­ments of kings and priests express their divided or unified functions? The question of origin, of course, is also interesting: did kings wear purple mantles and white khitons, imitated by priests? Or the opposite? How did their clothing influence each other? In the Mycenaean Linear B tablets, there are early links between kings, cults, and textiles. At Knossos, the wanax, or king, is associated with the color purple. The textiles associated with the king are of the type te-pa/TELA+TE. These are very large and very thick wool textiles without decoration. On KN Lc(1) 525, the scribe records an anticipated production of forty royal te-pa of the village of se-to-i-ja, and on the tablet KN Le 654 this village appears to deliver two textiles of this same royal type. This same type of textile is also given to the priestesses and the key-bearer at Pylos.

There seems to exist a link between royalty and religious duties and responsibilities integral to most ancient kingships. Kingships in ancient Greece had religious attributes and should be analyzed in a ritual context as well as a political context. For example, at Sparta, commanding the military (τα ἐμπολέμια) and carrying out priestly functions for Zeus Lacedaemon and Zeus Uranius were both royal prerogatives. Is the link between priestly and political function the color purple? Was purple originally the color of the dress of a priest who had become a king, or that of a king at the head of a cult? These questions are discussed based on a source material from late second and first millennium bce.

Bio: Marie-Louise Nosch is Professor in Ancient Greek History at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen. She directed from 2005 to 2016 at the Centre for Textile Research. Her special field of research is Mycenaean and the textile industry recorded in the Linear B tablets. She is the author of more than 100 papers on the topic of textile history and textile archaeology in antiquity and has also worked extensively with experimental archaeol­ogy and terminology.


Ran Boytner, Institute for Field Research, Hans Barnard, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA

Title: "The Ebbs and Flows of Textile Dye Use and Technology in the Ancient Andes"

Abstract: TTextiles have always had great social significance in the Andes. Textiles were used to expressed identity and power as well as position and function within society. Intensive investment in textile technologies yielded some of the best such artifacts of the ancient world. While spinning and weaving produced fine garments, it was colors—achieved primarily through the use of brilliant organic dyes—that constituted the major visual qualities of Andean textiles. A limited number of studies exist that investigate Andean dye technology, its development and the changes that resulted from the domestication of dye plants and insects, new trade networks and the subsequent exchange of designs and ideas. We present data from thousands of textiles to cover a broad temporal and geographical range. Some of the data summarizes published analytical work on Andean dyes but most results from our work in the past two decades. We use the entire dataset to explore changes in dying preferences and technologies, and their relationships to general cultural and technological traits across the ancient Andes.

Bio, Ran Boytner: Ran Boytner earned his PhD in 1998 from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is inter­ested in textiles analysis in general, and dye analysis in particular, as ways to gain insights into the lives, cultures, and political and economic systems of ancient people. Boytner is presently the Executive Director of the Institute for Field Research. Prior to that position, Boytner taught at the University of Southern California and at the UCLA.

Bio, Hans Barnard: After obtaining a MD and PhD in Archaeology from Leiden University (the Netherlands), Hans Barnard is now Associate Researcher at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as Associate Adjunct Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, also at UCLA. As an archaeological surveyor, photographer, and ceramic analyst he has worked on sites in Armenia, Chile, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iceland, Panama, Peru, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. He is currently involved in re­search projects investigating the prehistory of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia and the ancient produc­tion techniques of the artifact in the Museo Egizio in Turin (Italy). With W. Z. Wendrich and R. M. Bridgman he has published Report of the Baynun Mapping Project (Leiden, 1998); with J. W. Eerkens Theory and Practice of Archaeological Residue Analysis (Oxford, 2007); with W. Z. Wendrich The Archaeology of Mobility: Old World and New World Nomadism (Los Angeles, 2008); and with K. Duistermaat The History of the Peoples of the Eastern Desert (Los Angeles, 2012).


Claudia Brittenham, University of Chicago Department of Art History

Title: "Dress and Empire in the Ancient Americas"

Abstract: In both Mesoamerica and the Andes, distinctive traditions of dress have long served to define eth­nic, linguistic, and cultural groups. Obviously, people have dressed and adorned their bodies in different ways in different places since the beginning of time. However, what if the carefully scripted ethnic costumes of the Americas were not an immutable fact, but instead an artifact of empire? This paper examines how Aztec, Inca, and Spanish colonial authorities regulated the dress of their imperial subjects and discusses the relationship between past sumptuary regulation and the present status of traditional ethnic dress, or traje, in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Bio: Claudia Brittenham is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the art of Mesoamerica, especially in Central Mexico and the Maya area. She is the author of The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Central MexicoThe Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak (with Mary Miller); and Veiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color (with Stephen Houston and colleagues).


Megan Cifarelli, Manhattanville College, NY Department of Art History, and Consulting Scholar, University of Pennsylvania Museum

Title: "Again with the Hasanlu Lion Pins? Interpretive Tensions, Identity, and Distributed Agency"

Abstract: The class of objects most readily identified with the site of Hasanlu, Iran, is perhaps the "lion pins": recum­bent leonine bronze figurines cast onto hefty, sharp iron "pins." Nearly 100 of these objects were excavated in the ca. 800 bce destruction level at Hasanlu (Period IVb). These lion pins are unique to the site of Hasanlu, likely were locally produced, and appear to have been made individually rather than produced in a reusable mold. While these have long been treated in the literature as dress items that played an essential role in the militarized identity of elites at this site, they are not found in any excavated burials, the most likely locus for establishment and negotiation of identity. Rather, the vast majority were found in a cluster with dozens of victims of the attack and subsequent fire, on the floor in the main hall of the site’s largest temple. Employing notions of distributed agency, this paper proposes an interpretation of these objects as agentive objects in their own right. While they may have participated in local identity formation and negotiation, this paper argues that lion pins are essentially cultic equipment that, when integrated into the dress of a cult statue, played a critical role in presencing the deity and transforming the man-made image into an animated, powerful entity. A cultic function by which these objects transform identities explains idiosyncrasies of their appear­ance and manufacture, as well as their concentration in a single, catastrophic use-context in a temple.

Bio: Megan Cifarelli is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Visual Studies and Art History at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York. Her main areas of research are theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of representations and instances of dress in ancient contexts, focusing in particular on Assyria, north­western Iran and the Caucasus in the early first millennium BCE. She is the author of multiple articles dealing with the material culture of Hasanlu, Iran, theoretical issues relating to mixed material culture produced in contact situations, and Assyrian visual culture. Her recent co-edited volume (with Laura Gawlinski) on dress, What Shall I Say of Clothes? Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to the Study of Dress in Antiquity was published by the Archaeological Institute of America in 2017.


Jean Evans, Respondent. University of Chicago The Oriental Institute

Bio: Jean M. Evans is the Chief Curator and Deputy Director of the Oriental Institute Museum and a Research Associate of the Oriental Institute. She was previously a fellow in the Munich Graduate School for Ancient Studies at Ludwig Maximilian University and has been the recipient of fellowships from the Getty Foundation, the American Academic Research Institute of Iraq, the Warburg Institute, and the German Archaeological Institute. Jean was a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1999 to 2008 and was ultimately a co-organizer of the exhibition Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium BC and co-editor of its corresponding publication. She is also the author of The Lives of Sumerian Sculpture: An Archaeology of the Early Dynastic Temple (Cambridge University Press, 2012).


Benjamin R. Foster, Yale University Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Title: "Dress and Undress in the Akkadian Period"

Abstract: Pictorial and textual evidence from the Akkadian period (ca. 2300–2100 bce) suggests rapid changes in clothing for elite men, inspired by foreign conquests, as well as new styles of personal adornment such as jewelry and elaborate hair styles. Changes in women's styles are less apparent. Depiction of nakedness served multiple purposes. Evidence for court, cultic, and military apparel, both parade and battle, may also be considered.

Bio: Benjamin R. Foster is Laffan Professor of Assyriology and Babylonian Literature and Curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection. His research interests focus on two main areas: Mesopotamia — especially Akkadian — lit­erature, and the social and economic history of Mesopotamia. In the area of Akkadian literature, he is author of Before the Muses (1993, 1996, 2005), an anthology of annotated translations from Akkadian poetry and prose of all periods. An abridged, paperback version of this work appeared as From Distant Days (1995). He translated the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh for the Norton Critical Editions series, The Epic of Gilgamesh (2001), and is au­thor of Akkadian Literature of the Late Period (2007), as well as twenty-five or more studies on various aspects of Akkadian literature. In the area of history, especially social and economic history, he is author of two books, Umma in the Sargonic Period (1982) and Administration and Use of Institutional Land in Sargonic Sumer (1982), as well as about fifty articles, most of them dealing with the third millennium bce. He is also active in the publica­tion of primary source material, including one book, Sargonic Tablets from Telloh in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum (1982), and about twenty articles of text publications.


Laura Gawlinski, Loyola University, Chicago Department of Classical Studies

Title: "A Religion Without Priests?: Dressing the Dynamic Identities of Greek Religious Personnel"

Abstract: Although Greek dress could contribute to the visual articulation of religious hierarchy, it is remarkably hard to identify some kind of consistent dress across the various types of Greek religious personnel, and there is little that comes close to being identifiable as sacerdotal dress. Strict codes for male and female religious dress are generally taken to be a part of an ideology of control over belief and related to an emphasis on orthodoxy. It should follow, then, that the more subtle, various, and context-based dress elements of Greek religious function­aries point to the opposite: the fluidity of authoritative dress is an embodiment of the fluidity of the hierarchy of Greek religion. The exceptions that prove this ideological rule are the dress practices of the officials who oversaw the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Bio: Laura Gawlinski is Associate Professor and Chair of Classical Studies at Loyola University, Chicago. Her research focuses on ancient Greek religion, particularly the management of sacred space, "sacred law," and the intersection of dress and religious experience. She has been a member of the excavations of the Athenian Agora since 1995 and authored the guide to the site’s museum.


Margarita Gleba, University of Cambridge, UK Department of Classics

Title: "Textile Cultures of Mediterranean Europe the First Millennium BC: Technology, Tradition, Aesthetics, and Identity"

Abstract: Recent analyses of archaeological textiles indicate that during the first millennium bc, textile cultures of Mediterranean Europe (Greece, Italy, and Spain) were based on different technological and aesthetic tradi­tions. These traditions can be connected with broader geographical regions: Greece followed the Near Eastern pattern; Italy was closely connected with the eastern Hallstatt Culture; while Spain (although the evidence is still very limited) appears to have had similarities with the western Hallstatt trends. Given the importance of textiles in creating individual and group identities, and at the same time the conservative nature of the textile craft, how did the technical and aesthetic differences between these textile cultures affect the appearance and construction of dress in these regions? This paper examines the extant archaeological evidence and discusses the implications of textile data for addressing identities through attire in the ancient societies.

Bio: Margarita Gleba is currently ERC Principal Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, UK. She was previously a research project manager at the Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Marie Curie Fellow at the University College London, UK. Her research interests include the archaeology of the pre- and protohistoric Mediterranean and Near East. She specializes in textile archaeology, including scientific analytical methods of fibre and textile investigation.


Ann C. Gunter, Respondent. Northwestern University, Chicago Department of Art History

Bio: Ann C. Gunter is the Bertha and Max Dressler Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern University and former Curator of ancient Near Eastern art at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution. She is the author and editor of numerous publications, most recently A Companion to Ancient Near Eastern Art (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming). Her chief research interests include artistic and cultural interaction between the Mediterranean and the Near East and the reception of Greek and Near Eastern art in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Aleksandra Hallmann, Organizer. University of Chicago The Oriental Institute

Title: "Cultural Identification of Specific Attire Represented on Male Statues in Late Period Egypt"

Abstract: Attire plays an important part in presenting various identities projected in this world, as well as in the afterlife. It can serve as both a code of belonging to a certain group and as a tool to distinguish the self from the other. The attitude an individual or culture displays toward foreign fashion reflects the type of contact with the foreigners and the political situation in which the interaction took place. Thus, the conscious choice of dress could show not only conformity, but also resistance to foreign culture. An individual could also take the middle ground and negotiate his/her identity by choosing a mixture of local and foreign clothing.

Dress as an analytical tool can easily mislead if studied with wrong assumptions and without a detailed analysis of the item itself. The problem of interpretation lays in the cultural background of the interpreter, the distance in time from analyzed material, and the fragmentary state of preservation of the ancient sources (be in artifact, art, or text). Such presumptions are prevalent in the study of costume represented in Late Period Egyptian art, when changes and innovation are often explained as "foreign influence" attributed to the contacts with the first millennium Mediterranean world.

An example of this type of challenge is the so-called "Persian costume" that consists of the high-waisted kilt with protruding roll and overhang and the long-sleeved tunic that has sometimes even been called a "Persian jacket." This identification was firstly based on the statue of Ptahhotep (Brooklyn Museum no. 37.353), who was active during the reign of Darius I. The interpretation of his costume as a "saratorial koine" of the Persian period, resulted in becoming a stylistic criterion to date an object to the Twenty-seventh Dynasty. However, a more de­tailed and nuanced study on the development of Egyptian costume based on figurative art in conjunction with textile remains — and leads to a different conclusion — showing the indigenous development of both elements of the so-called "Persian costume."

Bio: Aleksandra Hallmann is the current Oriental Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago and the organizer of the 2018 Oriental Institute Symposium Outward Appearance vs. Inward Significance: Addressing Identities through Attire in the Ancient World. She specializes in iconography, costume studies, and the construc­tion of identities through material culture. Her fieldwork concentrates on the Theban area, including the Osirian chapels at Karnak, God’s Wives chapels in Medinet Habu, and the temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari. She received a PhD in the Egyptian archaeology at the University of Warsaw, Poland, in 2015. Her dissertation "The Representation of Private Costume in Egyptian Art from the 25th to the 31st Dynasty" won the Prime Minister’s Award of Poland for one of the best dissertations of the year. It is being prepared for publication by the Oriental Institute. Since 2015, Aleksandra has held a research position at the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures at the Polish Academy of Sciences. She spent the academic year 2016–2017 in Egypt as a postdoctoral scholar at the American Research Center in Egypt, financed by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, University of Edinburgh, UK School of History, Classic and Archaeology

Title: "Royal Robes of Honor in the Persian World, ca. 550–330 BCE"

Abstract: Clothing was central to Achaemenid Persian court culture. The significance of dress could be physi­cal, economic, social, or symbolic and the function of clothing was multiple: it could protect, conceal, display, or represent a person’s office or even a state of being. Persian courtly identity was defined through its clothing. The Greeks generally regarded Persian dress as beautiful and expensive (it was once estimated that by modern standards, Artaxerxes II stood up in nothing short of 3 million pounds worth of clothing and jewelry).

One of the most distinctive of all Persian garments was the top coat, the gaunaka, which is the focus of this study. It was a kind of overcoat with wide, often over-long, sleeves and it was usually worn hanging from the shoulders. The Greeks knew it as the kandys. It becomes clear from the Greek literary sources that the gaunaka/kandys played an important role in court etiquette and that the garment was loaded with ceremonial symbolism. This costly and iconic garment became an item of significant exchange in which notions of loyalty and patron­age were codified, and through which gestures of humility, obedience, privilege, and status could be negotiated and played out. I refer here, of course, to the notion of investiture and the political importance attached to the custom of royalty bestowing the gaunaka as a robe of honor onto a worthy recipient.

By employing anthropological data derived from a Eurasian context, this paper explores the importance of robes on honor (khil’at) within Persian society. The robe was a reward which was physically expressed through the gift itself and in Achaemenid ideology, the interplay between service and the gift was profound since the monarch was perceived as receiving the gifts of his people in the form of loyalty, service, and produce. The robe was a manifestation of royalty itself and as such, was a logical expression of the loyalty gift.

Greek texts of the Classical period make regular references to the royal robe and stories of attempted usurpa­tions, rebellions, and disloyalty frequently operate around the symbolism of the king’s robe. The true significance of the robe as a manifestation of the kingship itself is the key to understanding the bloody story Herodotus tells about Xerxes’ robe, for instance, behind which no doubt lies a Persian account of Masistes’ attempt to usurp the throne. These Greek stories highlight the fact that certain Persian dress customs were known to the Greeks, albeit imperfectly, and stress the notion that clothing rituals in antiquity had deep cultural roots.

Bio: Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is Professor of Ancient History at Cardiff University. His work focuses on Achaemenid court culture and Persian interactions with the Greek world as well as on dress and gender in antiquity. He is the author of Aphrodite’s Tortoise: The Veiled Woman of Ancient Greece (2003); King and Court in Ancient Persia (559 to 331 BC) (2013); Ctesias’ Persica: Tales of the Orient (2013); The Culture of Animals in Antiquity (2018); and Designs on the Past: How Hollywood Created the Ancient World (2018). Forthcoming publications include Ancient Persia; and The Book of Esther: The Visual World of Achaemenid Iran.


Margaret C. Miller, University of Sydney Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia

Title: "Regional Dress in the Imperial Rhetoric of Achaemenid Persia"

Abstract: The imperial vision of the Achaemenid world, reflected in palatial and funerary arts as well as royal texts in Fars, emphasized the extent of empire by carefully delineating and articulating the many peoples that lay within as a result of victorious conquest. The very limited evidence available suggests that this powerful vision was disseminated by replication in some, if not all, satrapal capitals. One facet of the vestimental characteriza­tion is what might be called the "trouser line." A more simplified world vision, still dependent upon distinctive regional dress, appears in the battle imagery of Persian period glyptic, where the "western" barbarian is readily distinguished from the "eastern" barbarian. At the same time, the funerary arts of western Anatolia offer an al­ternative model. In several regional contexts, there is clear, if limited, evidence to show that at least some of the elite members of the regional populations of the empire selectively adopted Persian dress as well as facets of Persian lifestyle: a kandys on a hunter, the court robe on a banqueter. Dress was a language capable of diacriti­cal as well as associative functions.

Bio: Margaret C. Miller, Arthur and Renee George Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Sydney, has research interests in the archaeology of ancient Greece, notably the material evidence for social life and thought in the tenth through fourth centuries bc. Research foci pertain to relations between the Greek world and ancient west Asia, especially Anatolia, in the Persian period; tracking social attitudes through the vehicle of the representational arts; and settlement archaeology (excavation of Zagora on Andros).


Brian Muhs, Respondent. University of Chicago The Oriental Institute

Bio: Brian Muhs is Associate Professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and the College at the University of Chicago. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996, and was lecturer at the Papyrological Institute of Leiden University from 1997 to 2011 before coming to Chicago. He has published two books on taxation in Ptolemaic Egypt and a third on the ancient Egyptian economy.


Jana Mynářová, Charles University in Prague Czech Institute of Egyptology

Title: "'Silver for Clothing…'. Textiles and Diplomacy in the Late Bronze Age Near East"

Abstract: In the Late Bronze Age Near East (ca. sixteenth through twelfth centuries bc), textiles, mentioned both in letters and relevant inventories, represent one of the main commodities employed to maintain relations between the individual political entities, both reflected and represented in the relations of their respective rulers. These textiles can be interpreted as objects of high status and prestige and as such must have been understood by both parties in the communication. The written evidence dated to the second half of the second millennium bc offers an opportunity to study the relevant terminology both in a geographical and chronological perspective. It is the main aim of the proposed paper to pinpoint some individual traditions as reflected in written documents as well as to identify the specifics of the Egyptian tradition.

Bio: Associate Professor Jana Mynářová is an Assyriologist and Egyptologist (PhD 2004, Charles University) interested in various aspects of the relations between Egypt and the ancient Near East in the second millen­nium bc, with special attention given to documents in peripheral Akkadian from the Late Bronze Age. She is the author and co-author of several books and studies on the topic (Language of Amarna — Language of Diplomacy, Prague 2007). Presently, she carries a research project devoted to the study of Amarna cuneiform palaeography and she recently became a member of a multidisciplinary research project dealing with the collection of the Old Assyrian tablets at Charles University. She is the main organizer of the Crossroads conferences (Prague 2010, 2014) devoted to study of interrelations among the ancient Near East societies in the Bronze Age.


Robert K. Ritner, University of Chicago The Oriental Institute

Title: "Clothing as a Marker of Ethnic Identity: The Case of the Libyans"

Abstract: Of the many foreigners depicted in Egyptian art, it is the people of the west of Egypt who are most readily identifiable not merely by skin tone, but by distinctive clothing, accoutrements, and hair style. Collectively named "Libyans" from the regional tribal name "Ribu/Libu," the westerners are known to belong to numerous historical tribal groups (Tehenu, Tjemehu, Meshwesh, Libu, Mahasun, Qeheq, Pyt, etc.), but Egyptian represen­tations characterize them in two stereotypical styles from the Predynastic to the Late periods. Shown either largely naked in a phallus sheath — for both males and females — and bandelier crossing the chest or clothed in a long open cloak, Libyans are further distinguished by feathers in the hair, specific tattoos, and either a frontal, jutting hair lock or by a single long side lock descending well below the ear. From these distinctive features it is possible to reassign misidentified foreigners as Libyans and to expose Egyptian "mummers" pretending to be Libyans for ritual performances during times when the pastoralist Libyans could not be found. During the Libyan political ascension in the Third Intermediate Period, the diagnostic traits betray the ethnic origins of sup­posedly "Egyptianized" pharaohs. Rock art from western Libya now confirms the genuine basis of the Egyptian representations.

Bio: Robert K. Ritner is a Professor of Egyptology in the Oriental Institute, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Program on the Ancient Mediterranean World, and the College, University of Chicago. His re­search interests include Egyptian religion and magic, language, and social history. His monographs include The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (2008); The Libyan Anarchy: Inscriptions from Egypt's Third Intermediate Period (2009), and The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition (2013).


Gay Robins, Emory University Department of Art History

Title: "The Use of Dress to Construct Identity within Eighteenth Dynasty Tomb Chapel Decoration"

Abstract: The scenes in Theban tomb chapels belonging to elite Eighteenth Dynasty officials offer a rich source of material for understanding how dress was used to construct identity within the visual system employed in tomb decoration. In general, within each chapel, images project the owner’s status, reference his official duties, depict him as the recipient of ritual performance, and sometimes also show him as ritual performer. Depending on the role played by the owner in any given context, the way he presents himself may differ subtly from one scene to another. Further, the ways in which other figures — such as male and female family members or images of the non-elite — are constructed may also be important for the owner’s self-presentation, because these fig­ures often act as a foil for the owner’s images and thus add meaning to them. In this paper, I explore the ways in which dress is implicated in identity construction to signify social status, gender, age, ritual role, and ethnicity in tomb chapel decoration.

Bio: Gay Robins studied Egyptology as an undergraduate at the University of Durham, England, and then ob­tained a DPhil from Oxford University in 1981. From 1979 to 1983 she was the Lady Wallis Budge Research Fellow in Egyptology at Christ’s College, Cambridge. She is now Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Art History at Emory University. She has published numerous articles relating to ancient Egyptian art, Eighteenth Dynasty non-royal Theban tombs, and women and gender issues in ancient Egypt. She is the author of Egyptian Painting and Relief (1986); Women in Ancient Egypt (1993); Proportion and Style in Ancient Egyptian Art (1994); The Art of Ancient Egypt (1997); and Egyptian Statues (2001). She is currently preparing the article on "Ancient Egypt" for Oxford University Press’s Oxford Bibliographies in Art History.


Ursula Rothe, Open University, Reading UK Department of Classical Studies

Title: "Dress in Rome’s Northern Provinces"

Abstract: The area that became Rome’s northern provinces (Gaul, Germania Inferior and Superior, Raetia, Noricum, and Pannonia Inferior and Superior) was gradually conquered by Rome during the course of the first century bc. The indigenous population across most of this area was divided into tribal groupings of various sizes, was Celtic-speaking, and belonged culturally to the sphere of the late La Tene usually associated with the Celts. One of the most valuable bodies of evidence we have for the people who lived in these provinces are the portrait gravestones they commissioned, copying the funerary practices of the incoming Roman soldiers. These have survived, either fragmentary or intact, in their many thousands. They usually include an inscription naming the deceased individuals and their ages, occupations, etc., a relief image depicting the deceased and their families, and — crucially for us — showing details of their dress. These stones were commissioned over the course of the first three centuries ad — until the dawn of Christianity — so we can trace developments in dress behavior over time. This paper explores the various ways in which different groups of people reacted to Roman rule, such as in the continuation of old identities and the creation of new ones, as expressed in the dress worn on the funerary monuments.

Bio: Ursula Rothe is an expert in Roman dress. She is currently Lecturer in Classical Studies at the Open University, UK. Her previous roles include a lecturing post and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, and serving as project manager of the University of Edinburgh project DressID: Clothing and Identities in the Roman Empire. Her publications include the monograph Dress and Cultural Identity in the Rhine-Moselle Region of the Roman Empire (Oxford 2009); and the journal articles "The 'Third Way': Treveran Women’s Dress and the 'Gallic Ensemble'" (American Journal of Archaeology 2012) and "Dress in the Middle Danube Provinces: The Garments, Their Origins and Their Distribution" (Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 2012). She is the 2017–2018 Hugh Last Fellow at the British School at Rome and is using the fellowship to work on a new monograph on the Roman toga (under contract to Bloomsbury).


Allison Thomason, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville Department of Historical Studies

Title: "The Phenomenology and Sensory Experience of Dress in Mesopotamia"

Abstract: This contribution explores the role that dress plays in human experience in ancient Mesopotamia. A study of pictorial, archaeological, and textual evidence allows access to the ancient Mesopotamian awareness of the adorned and clothed body and its movement through space. A phenomenological approach to dress ex­plicitly acknowledges that the relationship between bodies and dress is mutually affective. Following the work of the philosopher Merleau-Ponty, Entwhistle (2000) sees dress as a series of acts, or practices, such as getting dressed, feeling and moving with dress, and getting undressed as we move through these spaces. In addition, by having direct or present contact with bodies, dress objects and practices evoked multisensory experiences in the wearers and the people they encountered. The abundant archaeological, pictorial, and textual evidence from Mesopotamia allows a consideration of the bodily experience of dress because there are numerous cases where dress and dressing were noticed and represented. From the mundane to the exceptional, Mesopotamians experienced dress objects and movement through dressing activities, or within spaces as dressed bodies and expressed their responses to dress. Thus, by studying their embodied interactions with dress, we might under­stand how Mesopotamians lived, felt, and moved in relation to dress objects on their bodies.

Entwhistle, Joanne. The Fashioned Body: Fashion, Dress and Modern Social Theory (Polity, 2000).

Bio: Allison Thomason is Professor of Ancient History at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. She received her MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 1993, and her PhD from Columbia University in Art History and Archaeology in 1999, where she specialized in the Neo-Assyrian period. She is the author of the book, Luxury and Legitimation: Royal Collecting in Ancient Mesopotamia (Routledge 2005), and numerous publications on the material culture of Mesopotamia. In 2012, she instituted the sessions on dress at the annual meeting of the American Schools or Oriental Research, which continue today. She has recently published on the multi-sensory experiences of Neo-Assyrian capital cities, which includes an investi­gation of dress objects, and is presently working on several publications about dress in the ancient Near East.


Tasha Vorderstrasse, University of Chicago The Oriental Institute

Title: "Defining 'Coptic' Textiles: Problems in Geography, Chronology, and Terminology"

Abstract: The term "Coptic" appears frequently as a cultural designation of the art produced by Christians in Late Antique Egypt when it was under the control of the Byzantines and/or the Muslims. The use of the word "Coptic" to describe textiles is problematic because there remain many difficulties in the dating of these textiles as well as their provenance. While many textiles were found in the arid desert of Egypt, similar textiles have been found elsewhere, meaning that making assumptions about the provenance of these textiles is problematic. Most of the textiles are found outside of archaeological context and were drastically altered for the antiquities market, meaning that we often do not even understand how the original textiles originally appeared. This paper examines the challenges in studying late antique textiles in Egypt and also looks at the various textile terms in Coptic and depictions of textiles in Late Antique art in order to better understand their context.

Bio: Tasha Vorderstrasse is the University and Continuing Education Program Coordinator and Research Associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. She received her PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Chicago in 2004. Her work focuses on the intersection of archaeology, art, and texts in the Near East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, and the relationships between these regions and China.


Rita Wright, Respondent. New York University Department of Anthropology

Bio: Rita Wright is a Professor of Anthropology at New York University. Her research interests include compara­tive studies of urbanism, state formation, gender, and cycles of change in early societies. In the field she has conducted research in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, and used secondary sources from Mesopotamia to study the organization of production. She specializes in ancient technologies with a focus on the production and dis­tribution systems of ceramics and cloth and exchange networks. Wright’s major fieldwork has been at the city of Harappa and a study that she directed of rural sites in a Landscape and Settlement survey along a now dry bed of the Beas River that ran parallel to the nearby Ravi River, where Harappa is located (see "Beas Survey," She is especially interested in planned cities, their socio-political organization, and manage­ment of their water technologies. She is founder and chief editor of Case Studies in Early Societies (Cambridge University Press); editor of Gender and Archaeology; co-editor with Cathy L. Costin of Craft and Social Identity; and author of Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society (2010, Cambridge University Press).


Group Photo


Image forthcoming after the conference


Aleksandra Hallmann