2019: CAM Graduate Traveling Seminar to Egypt

2019: CAM Graduate Traveling Seminar to Egypt


Students and faculty strike a pose between columns at Karnak

Annual Graduate Traveling Seminar

The Center for the Ancient Mediterranean at Columbia University organizes an annual graduate student educational tour in a Mediterranean region or specific country, led by professors from Columbia University and elsewhere. Through on-site presentations by graduate students and faculty members, the tour aims to give Columbia graduate students whose studies focus on the ancient Mediterranean world the opportunity to visit archaeological sites and museums that might otherwise be inaccessible, to expose them to the material culture, topography, and environment of a particular ancient Mediterranean culture, and finally, to foster the research and training of PhD students across a number of departments at Columbia. Prior to the trip, a series of preparatory seminar sessions will be led by the trip leaders in order to provide any necessary background and allow for the discussion of broader themes and any relevant literature. Following the completion of the trip, participants will be required to write a short paper, on a topic to be determined in consultation with the trip leaders. 

For more information about the Annual Graduate Tour, and for a list of places Columbia students have traveled with the generosity of CAM, please visit CAM’s website. 

Cities and Sanctuaries of Late Period and Greco-Roman Egypt In 2019, the travel seminar was offered for the first time as a credit-bearing course through the Classical Studies program. Led by Professor Ellen Morris (Barnard Classics) and Dr. Paraskevi Martzavou (Classics), the seminar's participants journeyed from the southern border town of Aswan to the Mediterranean port of Alexandria, studying the complex interplay of tradition and innovation on Egyptian society in the Late Period through the Greco-Roman Period and beyond. Research topics range from the theology of various deities (Amun, the Wandering Goddess, Osiris, Serapis, and Isis), the function and conversion of various sacred sites, as well as points of conflict, co-existence, and cultural interchange for various subgroups of Egyptian society.


Monica Bulger (AHAR) presenting on the celestial imagery
on the ceiling of the temple of Hathor at Dendera

Course Description

Egyptians, Greeks, Libyans, Nubians, Babylonians, Persians inhabitants of Asia Minor and the Levant, Romans, Arabs, and travelers from all ends of the ancient Mediterranean world rubbed shoulders in the streets of Egyptian cities and occasionally etched their names and votive prayers in the outer walls if its temples. As peoples of different ethnicities and religions interacted, they influenced one anther in a manner that is clearly observable within the towns, temples, and tombs they constructed. By studying this dynamic multicultural period in Egypt’s history and visiting its monuments, participants will gain a strong sense of the various forces that have shaped Egypt’s past and present. See here to download the complete course syllabus and travel itinerary.

The graduate student participants will present their seminar papers at an upcoming conference scheduled for Friday, November 22nd, from 2:30-5:30 at the Italian Academy. More information, including a schedule of papers, will be available soon. For a glimpse into the many excursions the group participated in, you can check out the CAM trip journal and read blogs written by the students.


The temple of Gerf Hussein at New Kalabsha, with a view of Lake Nasser in the background

About The Center for the Ancient Mediterranean (CAM)

The Center for the Ancient Mediterranean at Columbia University, otherwise known as CAM, is an interdepartmental initiative at Columbia University in the City of New York which seeks to link together all the faculty, students and numerous departments that have an interest in the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and adjoining areas. It is simultaneously a mechanism for coordinating courses, an information source, and a means of organizing conferences and other scholarly encounters.