(Original posted in 2010. -Ed.)
Report on Nov. 30 – Dec. 3, 2009 visit by Ruth Palmer
I wish to thank Tom Palaima and the Department of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin, for bringing me to Austin, and providing the opportunity to work in PASP and present my work to such an energizing audience of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and visiting scholars. Sharing meals with students and faculty also provided an opportunity to talk in a less formal setting than a classroom or lecture hall. Adams House, the bed and breakfast at which I stayed, was very comfortable and accommodating. I had spent nine months in 1993-94 at UT Austin as a postdoctoral fellow working on my book, Wine in the Mycenaean Palace Economy, so my return to Austin was like a homecoming.
I was invited to teach a class of Tom’s upper level history course, AHC 378, on the status and occupations of the women workers in the Mycenaean Linear B tablets, on Monday Nov. 30, and give a Classics colloquium on my current research project, “What the scribe saw: artistic representations of deer and the invention of the Mycenaean deer ideogram,” on Thurs. Dec. 3. I was aided greatly in the deer presentation through access to the resources of PASP concerning the forms of the deer ideogram.
During my visit I had the opportunity to attend lectures by other visitors, first Lisa Fentriss’ talk on Monday evening on her work at Villa Magna, where the excavators have uncovered an amazing wine producing facility which served as the focal point in the villa of Marcus Aurelius. This reminded me of some of the Minoan wine pressing facilities from LM I, which, although of much humbler dimensions, were also show pieces attesting to the owner’s agricultural wealth. I also attended Elpida Hadjidaki’s class Wednesday afternoon where she presented the results of her excavation of the Minoan shipwreck found in the gulf of Mirabello, and the problems faced by underwater excavations. And on Wednesday evening, I went to Joe Carter’s talk on the evidence for settlement in the periods leading up to and through the Roman occupation of the Chora of Metapontum.
I also took part in many enjoyable conversations over lunch and dinner, notably dinner at Mothers with Tom Palaima on Monday and on Tuesday night, with Tom and Debbie Lee, who was my student at Ohio University. At lunch Tuesday with Adam Rabinowitz, we discussed drinking and dining rituals and the symposium. At a picnic lunch with the students from the history class on Wednesday, they had great questions and comments. Over coffee that afternoon, Jenny Moody told me about her research on climate change in Crete, and the evidence for the two species of deer brought to Crete in the Bronze Age and later. This was vital information for my research, and I am grateful to her for pointing this out. At dinner Wednesday night with Cynthia Shelmerdine, we talked about the excavations at Iklaina and another of my students who had taken part this summer. On Thursday night, five of the graduate students took me out to a wonderful café, whose name I don’t recall, and talked about their coursework and fieldwork. This was a wonderful, invigorating conclusion to a great visit. Since I have relatives living in the Austin area, I hope to come back to Austin and be able to work at PASP, and continue to communicate with the students and scholars I met here. This visit was an amazing and invigorating experience for me, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Department of Classics and World Religions