Jeremy Simmons

Jeremy is a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in Columbia’s Classical Studies program. He is currently writing his dissertation entitled, “Beyond the Periyar: A History of Consumption in Indo-Mediterranean Trade (100 BCE–400 CE).” In this study, Jeremy aims to establish a comparative view of the consumption of goods traded across the Indian Ocean in antiquity, addressing representative Mediterranean and Indian commodities in their new social and cultural contexts. Drawing on textual, archaeological, epigraphic, and numismatic evidence, his dissertation explores social and cultural impetuses prompting the demand for particular goods in the Mediterranean and India, changes in consumption patterns as a result of long-distance trade networks, and associations between imported goods and specific social groups or forms of exchange (such as gift exchange and religious donation).

His inquiries are inspired by a fascination with a variety of related topics: the early Greek ethnographies imagining the mythical edge of the world; the elusive Hellenistic potentates of Central Asia; the rise of Buddhism in India and patronage at various monastic sites; the economic institutions and corporate structures of commerce operating from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Bay of Bengal; and the culmination of Indo-Mediterranean maritime trade in the early centuries of the Common Era. In addition to Greek and Latin, Jeremy has studied Sanskrit and Prakrit languages and incorporates a variety of Indic sources as a complement to western texts and material remains. During the 2018–19 academic year, he is conducting on-site dissertation research in India, the United Kingdom, and Italy thanks to external fellowship funding from both the American Institute of Indian Studies and the Social Science Research Council

During his time at Columbia, Jeremy has specifically investigated the mechanisms and effects of the Roman pepper trade as well as well as the archaeology and epigraphy of early Buddhist sites in India. He also participated in the 2016 Eric P. Newman Summer Seminar at the American Numismatic Society, where he conducted research on silver coinage of the Western Kshatrapas. He has excavated at archaeological sites in Turkey (Antiochia ad Cragum) and Italy (Hadrian’s Villa) during multiple seasons. Jeremy has presented papers at multiple international conferences, with topics including pepper consumption in the Greco-Roman world, the roles of imported Roman coinage in ancient India, and the strategies of seasonal trading communities throughout the Indian Ocean network.

Before coming to Columbia, Jeremy completed his BA in Classical Languages and Near Eastern Studies at the University of California-Berkeley in 2013, graduating with highest honors and the Departmental Citation in Classics. His thesis (awarded summa cum laude) bridged the Classical and Near Eastern worlds by exploring Plutarch’s allegorical treatment of Egyptian deities in De Iside et Osiride and the conflicts between barbarian wisdom culture and paideia in the Second Sophistic.

Jeremy has enjoyed teaching both ancient Greek and Latin language courses as well as sections on ancient Egyptian and Roman history. His extracurricular interests include Star Wars, hard bop jazz, and ambulationes in various New York City parks. Email Jeremy Simmons.