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Making and Experiencing Graffiti in Ancient and Late Antique Egypt and Sudan

Wednesday 15 December 2021 - Friday 17 December 2021

This the 2nd annual Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten (NINO) postdoctoral fellowship conference, to be hosted online via Zoom, organised by Julia C. F. Hamilton as part of a two-year project on Old Kingdom graffiti at Saqqara.

The conference will be held online, regardless of whether restrictions on meeting in person may be lifted in December 2021.

Summary details

  • Conference dates: Wednesday 15th – Friday 17th December 2021, 10.30am–6.30pm (GMT+1)
  • Location: online (via Zoom), hosted by Leiden University
  • Public webinar registration: click here (free of charge)

Making and Experiencing Graffiti builds on recent graffiti-themed conferences in ancient and Late Antique Egypt and Sudan (e.g., Emberling and Davis 2019; Ragazzoli, Harmanşah, Salvador, Frood 2018), seeking papers to be presented under two major themes: ‘making’ and ‘experience’. In particular, papers that explore the mode, technique, and performance of graffiti-making are of interest, as are those which consider how textual and figural graffiti intersect with related corpora (e.g., mason’s and quarry marks, rock inscriptions, petroglyphs) along these lines, between the 3rd Millennium BCE – 7th century CE. A narrow definition of graffiti is eschewed, and speakers are encouraged to consider the socio-historical and practical circumstances in which marks and inscriptions were made and how they may respond to each other and other media around them.

Diagnostic features of inscriptions in one textual or inscriptional culture, or historical period, are not expected to apply universally; however, similarities may exist across other frames of reference, such as the aesthetic response to inscribed (or uninscribed) space, bodily convenience and markers of technical ability, self-thematization and display, for example. Participants are encouraged to engage with materiality and theories of practice (which could be approached from a number of disciplinary angles: e.g., textual criticism, anthropology, art history/visual culture studies), or other complementary frameworks of interpretation (such as theories of landscape, senses and phenomenology, archaeology of movement and mobility). Papers that address the conference theme reflecting on contemporary and historical epigraphic practice and archival research, or the intersection and dialog between ancient and more modern graffiti, are also welcome. The wider conference and the subsequent edited volume will reflect collaborative exploration of meaning in ancient inscription-making that is reflexive in methodology and approach.

Keynote talks will be delivered by Dr Johannes Auenmüller (Museo Egizio, Turin); Prof. Elizabeth Frood (University of Oxford); Dr Ben Haring (Leiden University); Dr Paweł Polkowski (Poznań Archaeological Museum / University of Warsaw); Dr Nico Staring (Leiden University); and Prof. Jacques van der Vliet (NINO / Leiden University / Radboud University).

Programme at a glance

Please note that all times are given in CET/GMT+1. You can download the full programme and conference abstracts here.

10.15am Zoom waiting room opens to public
10.30am Conference welcome
10.40am Keynote 1: Paweł Polkowski
Rock art and graffiti in Egypt and Nubia: On the selected aspects of terminology, interpretation, and theoretical developments
11.40am Comfort break (10min)
11.50am Session 1: Cooper – Rieger – Refaat Mahmoud
1.15pm Lunch break (1 hour)
2.15pm Session 2: Hassan – Morel – Campagno/Maydana
3.40pm Comfort break (10min)
3.50pm Session 3: Kaper – Dijkstra – Lazaridis
5.15pm Comfort break (15min)
5.30pm Keynote 2: Johannes Auenmüller
The Ellesija Chapel in Turin: A case study in secondary epigraphy


10.15am Zoom waiting room opens to public
10.30am Conference welcome
10.40am Keynote 3: Nico Staring
Tomb graffiti and the biography of a cultural landscape
11.40am Comfort break (10min)
11.50am Session 4: Den Doncker – Dorn
1.00pm Lunch break (1 hour 15min)
2.15pm Session 5: Ragab – Accetta-Crowe/Smerdon – Horbury
3.40pm Comfort break (10min)
3.50pm Session 6: Al Taher/Salvador – Hackley – Pestarino
5.15pm Comfort break (15min)
5.30pm Keynote 4: Elizabeth Frood
So many worlds in a name: Micro-stories from Karnak


10.15am Zoom waiting room opens to public
10.30am Conference welcome
10.40am Keynote 5: Ben Haring
The point of making marks
11.40am Comfort break (10min)
11.50am Session 7: Brémont – Vymazalová – Nilsson/Ward
1.15pm Lunch break (1 hour)
2.15pm Session 8: Olette-Pelletier – Łukaszewicz – Ochała
3.40pm Comfort break (10min)
3.50pm Session 9: Navrátilová – Rosenmeyer
4.50pm Comfort break (10min)
5.00pm Keynote 6: Jacques van der Vliet
‘Weep with me over my sins!’ Author – recipient interaction in graffiti from Christian Egypt and Nubia
6.00pm Conference summary and closing

N.B.: Due to COVID-19 restrictions in The Netherlands, Prof. Jacques van der Vliet will no longer speak at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities), and the final keynote session will be held online.

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