November 5, 1998 – Ian Morris: “Civizational Thinking and Ancient Greece”

Thursday, November 5 | 4:00 pm | Oakes Mural Room

Ian Morris’s talk on “Civilizational Thinking and Ancient Greece” inaugurates a year-long series of lectures that accompanies the new faculty seminar on “Civilizational Thinking” funded by the Ford Foundation. Morris’s work combines meticulous attention to the demands of classical scholarship with bold scrutiny of the process by which knowledge of the classical world has been created. In a 1994 article on “Archaeologies of Greece,” Morris observes that

A spectre is haunting archaeology-the spectre of history. Archaeologists study the whole of the human past, but grow uncomfortable when considering themselves as a part of that past. …[T]he past of the archaeology of classical Greece… is at once one of the most venerated and one of the most reviled archaeological traditions. I argue that this split personality is a product of archaeologists’ lack of concern with the intellectual history of their own practices. The archaeology of Greece is intimately involved with a two-century-old project of understanding ‘Europeanness’ (Classical Greece: Ancient Histories and Modern Archaeologies, 8).

Ian Morris is Willard Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology at Stanford University. Educated at the University of Birmingham and Cambridge University, he has also taught at the University of Chicago. His books include Burial and Ancient Society (Cambridge, 1987) and Death-Ritual and Social Structure in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge, 1992). He edited Classical Greece: Ancient Histories and Modern Archaeologies (Cambridge 1994), and is co-editor of A New Companion to Homer (Leiden 1997). Morris’s Archaeology as Cultural History will be published by Blackwell in 1999.