Each year, the C. Denismore Curtis Lecture is presented by a speaker chosen by the graduate students of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology. This year, the students have extended the honor to University of Cincinnati archaeologist Barbara Burrell, who will provide an historical perspective on Herod the Great, a biblical figure long reviled in the West. She will deliver the lecture, titled "Conquering Nature: Herod the Great's Caesarea," on Friday, April 13, at 5 p.m., in Carpenter B21. The lecture is free and open to the public; those who wish to meet Burrell are invited to tea in the Quita Woodward Room at 4 p.m.
Herod the Great is familiar in the Christian tradition as the ruler who ordered the execution of all young male children in the town of Bethlehem shortly after the birth of Jesus, so as to avert the loss of his throne to a newborn "King of the Jews." This biblical reputation, says Burrell, has often obscured the historical significance of Herod's reign as "one of the last of the Hellenistic monarchs." As a client-king under the Roman Empire, Herod lived at a fascinating set of historical intersections. He presided over a grandly ambitious building program, funding the construction of not only palaces but entire cities. The ruins of Herod's creations are now being excavated.
Burrell is the field director of excavations at Caesarea Maritima, a seaport that Herod built on a Greco-Roman model to honor his patron, Caesar Augustus. Caesarea's builders created an elaborate water and sewer system for the city, and its port was vastly improved by ingenious engineers.
Trained at New York University and at Harvard, Burrell has dug at sites across the Mediterranean, including Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey, before embarking on the Caesarea site. Her specialties include Roman provincial coins, Greek epigraphy of Asia Minor, and Hellenistic and Roman imperial art, architecture and history. She has taught seminars in numismatics, gender and archaeological theory, the emperor Hadrian, the crisis of the third century C.E., and the archaeology of Israel. In 2002, she was appointed the first senior fellow of the Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Research, at Macquarie University in Sydney. Her major work on cities that built temples to the imperial cult, Neokoroi: Greek Cities and Roman Emperors, appeared in 2004, and an article on the significance of the aedicular facade throughout the Roman world has just been published in the American Journal of Archaeology.