OCLA: Seminars & Events

Pusey glass
Hercules and the Ceryneian hind, 4th-century
gold-glass from Rome.(Ashmolean Museum)

Listed here are forthcoming academic events within the field of Late Antiquity (individual lectures, seminars, conferences, etc.) being held in Oxford, or being organised outside Oxford by OCLA Researchers. If you are looking for events in a specific area of Late Antiquity (e.g. within ‘Islam and the Islamic World’, or ‘The Post-Roman West’), visit that section of our site, where you will find only the relevant events listed

This term's “booklet” of events
(last updated 3 October, 2017

OCLA Special Lecture

The lecture by Stephen Mitchell on The Fear Factor … Roman Cities and the Barbarian Threat in the Third Century’ that was due to take place on Thursday 19 October 2017 has been CANCELLED due to unforeseen circumstances.

Faculty of History, University of Oxford, History of Art

Special Slade Lecture:
The Materiality of the Divine:
Aniconism, Iconoclasm, Iconography

Professor Salvatore Settis
(Chairman of the Louvre Museum’s Scientific Council)

Tuesday 31 October 2017
Examination Schools (East School), High Street, Oxford
16:00–18:00, followed by a drinks reception

Is the essence of the divine representable? Apparently, sharp border lines separate aniconic from iconic representations of gods; and nothing can be more opposed than iconography and iconoclasm. Yet, iconoclasm can be, and indeed was, conceived as an act of cult; its practices imply not only the power of images, but specific strategies of attention in the eye of beholders. Aniconism only makes sense within a wider context where iconic and/or narrative representations of divine entities are the norm. Religious iconographies focusing on death and rebirth allude not only to the story or myth they tell, but to the cultural practices of recollecting and indeed revitalising tradition in devotional activity such as ritual, prayer, and belief. The very status of ruins, as defined in late antiquity and the Middle Ages, can be described as a cultural formation that acts as a bridge between iconic and aniconic, meaning and destruction, iconoclasm and rebirth, “classical” and “renaissance”.

More information

This event is free to attend but registration is essential. Please register here

The ERC Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity Project
invites you to the launch on All Saints Day
of its on-line database

Wednesday 1 November 2017 at 5pm
in the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies,
66 St Giles’, Oxford.

There will be an introduction to the database, followed by a celebratory drink.

To learn how to access the database, visit (after 5pm UK time on 1 November)


“Saints and Salvation: the Wilshere Collection of Gold-glass, Sarcophagi and Inscriptions from Rome and Southern Italy”

Please join us for a discussion to celebrate the publication of this book by Susan Walker, with Sean Leatherbury and David Rini, published by the Ashmolean Museum

Friday 10 November 2017
Sutro Room, Trinity College, at 5pm

The discussion of the book will be led by Susan Walker, Maria Lidova, and Jaś Elsner

The event will close with a celebratory drink


Imagining the Divine
Art and the Rise of World Religions

19 October 2017 to 18 February 2018
at the Ashmolean Museum
(closed Mondays; open 10am to 5pm
Tuesday to Sunday, and Bank Holidays)

In partnership with the British Museum
and the University of Oxford

Exploring Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism,
this major exhibition will be the first to look at the art of the five world
religions as they spread across continents in the first millennium AD

Further details, and information on purchasing tickets:

Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar

Wednesdays at 5pm in Michaelmas Term 2017
in the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies (weeks 1–4)
and Corpus Christi, Seminar room (weeks 5–8)

18 October (Week 2)
Irene Giviashvili (SIAS, Oxford):
Marking the sacred space in Ani: The evidence of monuments

25 October (Week 3)
Christos Stavrakos (Ioannina):
New Byzantine sigillographic evidence from the Akropolis of Athens

1 November (Week 4)
The ERC Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity Project (Oxford)
Launch of the on-line database
(see above)

The seminars in Weeks 5–8 will be held  jointly with the Empires of Faith project
Venue: Corpus Christi College Seminar room
See next seminar list for details

Conveners: Marc Lauxtermann and Maria Lidova

Empires of Faith seminar series

Wednesdays at 5 pm in Michaelmas Term 2017
Corpus Christi College  Seminar Room

In conjunction with the exhibition
Imagining the Divine: Art and the Rise of World Religions (see above)

18 October (Week 2)
Richard Hobbs (London):
Representing belief on silver plate in late Antiquity

25 October (Week 3)
Susan Walker (Oxford):
Man with a mission: Charles Wilshere, a Victorian collector of early Christian and Jewish antiquities

1 November (Week 4)
Nadia Ali (London):
Qusayr 'Amra and the continuity of post-classical art in early Islam: Towards an iconology of forms

8 November (Week 5)
Alain George (Oxford):
The temple, church, and first mosque at Damascus: New perspectives

15 November (Week 6)
Michele Minardi (Bordeaux):
Chorasmian Gods: Images of Zoroastrian deities throughout Antiquity

22 November (Week 7)
Maria Cristina Carile (Bologna):
Re-approaching the late antique and medieval art of Ravenna: Visuality and artistic culture of a Mediterranean city

29 November (Week 8)
Mattia Guidetti (Vienna):
Churches and mosques in early medieval Syria
Convener: Maria Lidova

Late Antique and Byzantine
Archaeology and Art Seminar

Thursdays, 11am–12:30pm in Michaelmas Term 2017
The Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles’ (First-Floor Seminar Room)

19 October (Week 2)
Ekaterine Gedevanishvili:
Cult and Image of St. George in Medieval Georgian Art

26 October (Week 3)
Rowena Loverance:
A Sculptor and His Workshop in 11th-Century Greece

2 November (Week 4)
Irina Demetradze:
Defining Urban Space: Archaeology and Topography of Mtskheta

9 November (Week 5)
Stefan Faust:
Fun with Achilles. Late Roman Perspectives on the Life of a Greek Hero

16 November (Week 6)
Theocharis Tsampouras:
‘Painted in Dire Times’: Artists and Patrons Coping with Financial Changes in the Late Byzantine and Ottoman Balkans 

23 November (Week 7)
Grace Stafford:
Literary and Material Evidence for Early Christian Female Pilgrimage

30 November (Week 8)
Irene Giviashvili:
Ishkani, a Medieval Georgian Church in Northeast Turkey: Modern Restoration, New Findings
Conveners: Foteini Spingou and Ine Jacobs

Late Roman Seminar

Seminar Room, Corpus Christi College, at 5pm on Thursdays (except Week 2)

19 October (Week 2)
This Special Lecture by Stephen Mitchell on The Fear Factor … Roman Cities and the Barbarian Threat in the Third Century’ has been CANCELLED due to unforeseen circumstances.

26 October (Week 3)
Hugh Elton (Trent University, Ontario):
Vitalian and his revolt against the emperor Anastasius

2 November (Week 4)
Robin Whelan (Oxford and Liverpool Universities):
Mirrors for bureaucrats: expectations of Christian officials in the Theodosian Empire

9 November (Week 5)
Dominique Santos (Universidade Regional de Blumenau, Brazil):
Connections across the Irish Sea: bilingualism and biliteralism in the ogham stones of Late Antiquity

16 November (Week 6)
Ralph Mathisen (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign):
Theodosius II imperator, warrior emperor: Upholding a family tradition of victory

23 November (Week 7)
Claire Sotinel (Université Paris Est – Créteil):
Constantine’s conversion politics

30 November (Week 8)
Marcello Lusvarghi (Università di Bologna):
Barbari, afri barbari and Mauri: ‘the other’ in the African ecclesiastical authors of the 4th to 6th centuries

Conveners: Neil McLynn and Bryan Ward-Perkins

The Cult of Saints in the First Millennium

Fridays, 5.00–7.00 pm in Weeks 1, 3, 5 and 7 of Michaelmas Term 2017
Trinity College, Sutro Room

Week 3 (27 October)
Lorenzo Livorsi (Reading):
Power, Praise and Prayer in Venantius Fortunatus' Life of Saint Martin

Week 5 (10 November)
Susan Walker (Ashmolean), Jaś Elsner (Corpus Christi),
and Maria Lidova (Wolfson):
Book Presentation of: Saints and Salvation: the Wilshere Collection of Gold-glass, Sarcophagi and Inscriptions from Rome and Southern Italy by S. Walker, S. Leatherbury, and D. Rini (see above)

Week 7 (24 November)
Edward Schoolman (Nevada):
Saints for Every Age: a Hagiographic Stratigraphy of Ravenna

Convener: Efthymios Rizos

‘Imagining the Divine: TORCH book at lunchtime’

Wednesday 8 November 2017, 12:30–2pm
Seminar Room, Radcliffe Humanities, Woodstock Road

Chair: Dr Mallica Kumbera-Landrus

Panel: Professor Kate Cooper (Royal Holloway College, University of London) and
Professor Gervase Rosser (University of Oxford)

Respondents: Dr Georgi Parpulov and Stefanie Lenk

Join the authors of the catalogue of Imagining the Divine (on show at the Ashmolean from 19 October) and the exhibition's curators, as well as a panel of experts in the field, for lunch and a lively discussion of both catalogue and exhibition. Lunch & talk are free, booking essential.

Lunch & talk are free, booking essential. For further details, visit:

Classical Archaeology Seminar: Art and Power, 400BC–AD300

Mondays at 4pm in Michaelmas Term 2017
Ioannou Centre, Lecture Theatre

The following seminar in this series is relevant to Late Antiquity:

16 October (Week 2)
Tuna Şare Ağtürk (Çannakale):
New Tetrarchic reliefs from Nikomedia

Conveners: Stephan Faust & Bert Smith

Medieval Archaeology Seminar

Mondays at 3pm in Michaelmas Term 2017
Institute of Archaeology Lecture Room

The following seminar is relevant to Late Antiquity:

13 November Week 6)
Torun Zachrisson:
Far and near – the central place of Helgö in Sweden: connections to the countryside and beyond

Seminar on Jewish History and Literature
in the Graeco-Roman Period

Tuesdays, of Weeks 2, 4, 6, and 8 in Michaelmas Term 2017
5–6.30 pm (note new time)
Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Clarendon Institute, Walton Street

The following seminar in this series is relevant to Late Antiquity:

31 October (Week 4)
Jonathon Wright (St Stephen's House):
The influence of collectors on knowledge and editing of Jewish pseudepigrapha: the case of Joseph and Aseneth

Convener: Alison Salvesen

Oxford Archaeology Fieldwork Seminar

Wednesdays at 5pm in Michaelmas Term 2017
Institute of Archaeology Lecture Room, 36 Beaumont Street
Please arrive promptly as the front door shuts at 5pm
Seminars are followed by a small drinks reception

The following seminar in this series is relevant to Late Antiquity:

1 November (Week 4)
Dr Louise Blanke:
Beyond the shadows of the monuments: excavating daily life and urban infrastructure in Jarash (Jordan)

Conveners: Abi Tompkins and Clifford Sofield

Three lectures to be held in the Headley Lecture Theatre at the Ashmolean Museum. Please note that these are all ticketed events: www.ashmolean.org/tickets

‘Imagining the Divine’: Exhibition Talk
Friday 27 October 2017, 2–3pm
Stefanie Lenk (Empires of Faith Project Curator):
How did iconic images of the world religions, like that of the Buddha or of Christ, came into being?
An introduction to this autumn’s exhibition, this talk gives an overview over the prolific phase of religious change and artistic invention in the first millennium across Eurasia.

‘Smashing Images in Tudor England: A Very Reformation Problem’
Saturday 4 November 2017, 11am–12noon
Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch (University of Oxford):
To coincide with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Professor MacCulloch explores the origins and motivations of iconoclasm (smashing images) in the Christian tradition, outlines the way in which iconophobia (hatred of images) became fundamental to the English Reformation, and traces the gradual decline of the iconoclastic impulse in England during the seventeenth century.

‘In the Beginning: Jewish Life in the Ancient World’
Friday 8 December 2017, 1–2pm
With Rebecca Abrams (author of The Jewish Journey)
What was Jewish life like in ancient times and where did Judaism come from? Drawing on little-known objects from the Ashmolean, this talk traces the first 2000 years of Jewish history, from its earliest roots in Ancient Mesopotamia to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

“Those Who Follow”

30 October 2017 to March 2018
10am to 4.30pm, Mon–Fri and on certain weekends

Ioannou Centre for Classical & Byzantine Studies,
66 St Giles’, Oxford

Empires of Faith is hosting Those Who Follow, a photographic journey across Oxford’s modern religious spaces by photographer Arturo Soto. The exhibition is in part an artistic response to Imagining the Divine, bringing the incredible histories of art and religious material culture into the present day and showcasing the diversity of the Oxford community.

The Exhibition confronts us with buildings we might pass every day, that are part of our lives but that we don’t often pause to consider – affording us the opportunity to reflect on those that by contrast are prominent, distinctive, and immediately communicate ideas about faith. The exhibition goes behind the facades to explore how these buildings work for their communities from inside and out, both as spaces of worship and as places of the community.

For further details about the exhibition,
the vision behind the photographs, and on
free events running around Those Who Follow,
see the link below:

The rest of next term's events will be added
as soon as details become available


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