The 2018-19 academic year has begun at the Institute, and I will shortly be announcing our programme of events for this autumn. This year we welcome the Institute’s 2018-19 Homer and Dorothy Thompson Fellow, Barbara Scarfo, and Wilfrid Laurier University intern, Heather Robinson, who will be with us in Athens until December.

Barbara Scarfo has a BA (Hons) in Classics and Italian Studies and an MA in Classics, both from McMaster University. She is currently in the process of completing her PhD thesis, also at McMaster, entitled, “The Socio-Cultural Construction of Maternity in the Roman World”. In her study she analyzes three aspects of child-bearing in the Roman era: the social context of Roman maternity, the significant relationship between slavery and Roman maternity, and the social issues associated with unwanted pregnancies. While her main sources are chiefly textual (Greek medical writers, Roman jurists, and literary evidence), throughout her dissertation she draws heavily on epigraphic evidence (above all, funerary inscriptions in Latin and Greek) as well as material culture, such as the figural reliefs that appear on commemorations and osteological evidence.

Over the course of researching the subject of Roman maternity, Barbara encountered significant Greek evidence in the funerary stelae that feature depictions of mothers and infants. Previous scholarship mentions the grouping of mother and infant in passing, with the presence of a young child interpreted as an iconographic element signifying motherhood, and their focus is primarily on the relationships of the deceased woman with her father and other male relatives. In her new project, Barbara hopes to explore the topic of mothers and infants on Classical Attic funerary commemoration from a new angle and on a larger scale.

Heather Robinson is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is majoring in Archaeology and Heritage Studies with an option in geomatics. Heather has had an interest in Greek mythology and ancient history since reading Percy Jackson in Grade 8. She has more recently developed an interest in bioarchaeology and wishes to focus on that field of study throughout her master’s degree.  Heather has participated in excavations on the Town of Nebo Archaeological Project in Jordan in 2016, and during her time in Greece she plans to explore various parts of the country, and experience new food, museums, and culture.

Jonathan Tomlinson
Assistant Director