Professor Greg Woolf

Contact details

Name:
Professor Greg Woolf
Qualifications:
MA (Oxon) PhD (Cantab)
Position:
Director, Institute of Classical Studies
Institute:
Institute of Classical Studies
Location:
Institute of Classical Studies School of Advanced Study Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU
Phone:
07764212575
Email address:
greg.woolf@sas.ac.uk

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Ancient History, Archaeology, Classics, Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, History of the book
Research keywords:
Rome, Urbanism, Culture and Imperialism, Literacy, Libraries
Regions:
Europe
Summary of research interests and expertise:

Greg Woolf is a cultural historian of the Roman Empire and surrounding regions. Much of his work uses social theory to connect archaeological and historical information about antiquity.

He has written on cultural dimension of the expansion of the empire, on Roman imperialism, the Roman economy, and on Roman intellectual culture, and also on iron age hillforts, ancient ethnography and the assasination of Julius Caesar. He has coedited collections on ancient literacy, ancient libraries, encyclopaedic culture in premodern periods, the city of Rome, women in Roman cities and on ancient senses of the self. His latest monograph is Rome. An Empire's Story.

With Jason König at St Andrews he led a Leverhulme project on Science and Empire in the Roman World, and with Jörg Rüpke at Erfurt he leads a collaborative project on sanctuaries and their place in the formation of religious experience and knowledge, funded by an Annaliese Maier research prize from the Humboldt Foundation. He is also writing a book on ancient diasporas and colonization, set in the context of migration theory, and a book on the naturalness of urban life.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
24-Apr-2015 Ritual Traditions of Non-Mediterranean Europe

Chapters

Woolf, G. (2015). Ritual Traditions of Non-Mediterranean Europe. In Raja, R., & Rüpke, J. (Eds.), A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World. (pp. 465-477). Wiley-Blackwell

01-Apr-2015 Pliny/Trajan and the Poetics of Empire

Articles

Woolf, G. (2015). Pliny/Trajan and the Poetics of Empire. Classical Philology 110.2, 132-151

ANÁLISES DO SISTEMA-MUNDO E O IMPÉRIO ROMANO

Articles

Publications available on SAS-space:

Date Details
Oct-2015 Rome and Imperialism

PeerReviewed

Contribution on ancient Rome to a general encyclopedia on imperialism

Apr-2015 Pliny/Trajan and the Poetics of Empire

PeerReviewed

A series of recent articles have challenged literal and realist readings of the tenth book of Pliny the Younger's Letters. This article builds on these to suggest some poetic effects of this addition to the collection.

May-2015 Ritual Traditions of Non-Mediterranean Europe

PeerReviewed

This piece is a contribution to a handbook to the archaeology of ancient religion and attempts to summarize the main lines of religious practice in temperate Europe in the late Iron Age and Early Historic periods.

Dec-2015 Ancient Illiteracy?

PeerReviewed

Ancient writing is conventionally approached as a counterpart of speech, as in the dyad orality/literacy. Alphabetical writing systems are often regarded as superior precisely because they are better able to record speech. This paper takes inspiration from the work on ancient Near Eastern writing systems and considers ancient literacy as a general competence in handling sign systems that are often as much about numbers and quantities as about phonetic transcription. Means of recording proper names assume a special importance in transactions between strangers, and in documents that circulate without much context. But judged in terms of a capacity to handle numbers, signs, diagrams, and other symbols the debate over ancient literacy, and illiteracy, looks rather different. The paper argues that relative to their need to handle sign systems of this kind, very few members of the ancient world can be considered as functionally illiterate. Moving away from orality/literacy also raises questions about the widespread (but incomplete) spread of alphabets and abjads in the last and first millennia.

Feb-2016 Movers and Stayers

PeerReviewed

A Mobile World? "The importance of mobility in early societies now no longer needs demonstration. Recent work over the last decades has rendered obsolete the image of populations that are for the most part immobile that demographers have sought to purvey. Within the Mediterranean area, throughout a very long period lasting from Antiquity down to modern times, the circulation of human beings constitutes a fact that is both structural and structuring, an element of continuity that forms the very basis of the Mediterranean network." Claudia Moatti, whose research has done so much to illuminate human mobility across Mediterraneans ancient and early modern, succinctly sums up the current consensus. As historians and archaeologists of the classical world we now repeatedly emphasise movement and communication, mobility and con-nectivity, hybridity and cosmopolitanism. Our fascination with movement and exchange is evident in revisionist accounts of the Roman economy, in studies of the ancient novel between east and west, in projects that track diasporas through haplotype distribution and stable isotope analysis, and in multiple appropriations of post-colonial criticism and globalisation theory. A little of this is simply the latest round in a familiar old game of asserting the modernity of the ancients, but the evidence for movement is undeniable. The issue now is to assess the scale, nature and significance of all this, and to avoid an exaggerated reaction that underplays the equally undeniable differences between globalised modernity and the ancient world.

Mar-2016 Moving Peoples in the Early Roman Empire

PeerReviewed

The opening pages of James C. Scott’s The Art of Not Being Governed offer a global account of the political economy and ecology of early states. The first states, for Scott, were miniscule authoritarian regimes nestled on arable plains and plateaux and surrounded by vast ungoverned peripheries of mountain, marshland, swamp, steppe and desert. Around them peripheral populations were both natural trading partners – because the ecologies of their respective homes were so different – and a constant threat. Peripheral populations posed a double threat in fact since they not only periodically raided the plains, but also represented an alternative, freer way of life, an object lesson in “the art of not being governed”.

Dec-2015 Greek Archaeologists at Rome

PeerReviewed

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

Details
The Sanctuary Project

A programme of research funded by the award of an Anneliese Maier Prize to Professor Greg Woolf by the Humboldt Foundation on the nomination of Professor Dr Jörg Rüpke of the Max Weber Center of the University of Erfurt. This research programme asks how sanctuaries formed human experience and religious knowledge in the ancient world.Specifically the aim is to establish conversations between a range of different disciplines including prehistoric and classical archaeology, social anthropology and ancient history, art history, Jewish and early Christian studies, and the history of religions.

Available for doctoral supervision: Yes

Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
30-Jun-2015 Humboldt Foundation International Workshop: All under Heaven? The Empire's Spatial Dimensions

Paper on 'Unterritorial Empires: Putting Space in its Place' during 3-day workshop at Eisenach, Germany

17-Jun-2015 'Imapct of Empire' 12th International Workshop: Mobility and Migration in the Roman World

Keynote: 'Moving Peoples in Early Empires'

27-May-2015 London Ancient History: PhD Student Afternoon

Gave plenary lecture

27-May-2015 London Ancient History: PhD Student Afternoon

Gave plenary lecture

21-Apr-2015 Guest Lecture at University of Erfurt

Lecture on "Stabilizing belief and ritual practice with/by sanctuary building"

24-Feb-2015 Tangier Forum for Global Studies Lecture Series

Lecture on 'The Ecology of Roman Imperialism'

09-Jan-2015 Ancient Literacy Reprised

Paper on 'Ancient Illiteracy' at seminar at the Society for Classical Studies (APA) 2015 Annual Meeting in New Orleans

Defining Sanctuaries Workshop

Co-organizer of Workshop at the University of Erfurt, 27-28 April 2015

Rethinking artefacts in Roman archaeology: Beyond representation

LAURENCE SEMINAR, FACULTY OF CLASSICS, CAMBRIDGE, 28-29 MAY 2015 - gave summation

Consultancy & Media
Available for consultancy:
Yes
Media experience:
Yes
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