Epigraphic cultures and negotiation of identities

As part of its ongoing commitment to enhance cooperation between specialists working on various regions of the ancient and pre-modern world, the Early Text Cultures seminar is looking for contributors to the project Epigraphic Cultures and Negotiation of Identities. The Project Host Tuuli Ahlholm (MPhil Candidate, University College) will cover Late Republican and Imperial Rome, and she is interested to collaborate with colleagues who study other regions including (but not restricted to) ancient China, Middle East, Egypt, medieval Europe and other regions. We are eager to attract participants from Oxford and other places in the UK.

Project Description

Epigraphic monuments were not erected only by ancient communities and states: private individuals, too, used this public medium. This is especially true of funerary monuments where epigraphy was employed to immortalise a unique existence for posterity. Various messages and pieces of information could be included (or excluded): name, age, family relations, wealth, career, ethnicity, virtues, education etc. The messages were targeted to audiences that were tied to certain points in space and time. How does the epigraphic monument display and negotiate individual identity, status, belonging, and social relations in the community? Epigraphic evidence can provide us windows to these everyday ideological discussions that are rarely present in literary sources and would otherwise be lost to history. Can we find any universal patterns between different ancient epigraphic cultures?


The contributors will collaborate with the Project Host to develop a joint framework for the analysis of identity negotiation practices in epigraphy not restricted to a specific region or time period. The collaborators will exchange their disciplinary expertise and knowledge of primary sources in order to produce innovative research of more than narrow disciplinary importance.

The interested parties are requested to provide a brief statement of interest of 200-500 words with a description of their primary sources a statement regarding how the scrutiny of these sources could contribute to the project's goals (analysis of identity negotiation practices). The statements of interest should be sent to the Seminar Coordinator Yegor Grebnev (yegor.grebnev @ orinst.ox.ac.uk ) by 11 November. The Coordinator will also be happy to answer any questions and to provide clarifications. It is expected that the Project Host and the contributors will conduct collaborative research over several weeks and prepare a joint presentation to the participants of the Early Text Cultures seminar in Hilary 2017.

The seminar is accepting contributions from graduate students and early career researchers alike.