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Skilled Labour and Professionalism in Ancient Greece and Rome - 29-30/06/2016, Nottingham (England)

The Greeks and Romans recognised the importance of skill (technē/ars) and were aware of the existence of a body of skilled workers. Recent scholarship has demonstrated an extensive division of labour in parts of the ancient economy. In many cases those practicing a skill did so on a regular basis and in exchange for coin or kind. Ancient authors, particularly Plato, draw frequent parallels between these groups of experts and they appear to share a common identity or label as specialist craftsmen. Are these workers professionals and, if so, what does the term mean in the context of the ancient world?

Professionalism is a modern term and applied almost exclusively to the modern world. Educated professionals form a crucial part of the modern economy. Recognised professional qualifications and membership of associations conveys valuable status and enable those judged worthy to practice specialised occupations, for which they may receive an income. This conference seeks to assess whether ‘professions’ and ‘professionals’ or their equivalents existed in antiquity, and whether ‘professionalism’ can be a useful term for studying the ancient economy and society.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 29-30/06/2016

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: The University of Nottingham (Nottingham, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Edmund Stewart (The University of Nottingham)

INFO: web -

INSCRIPCIÓN/REGISTRATION/REGISTRAZIONE: inscripción online / online registration / registrazione online


29th June

08.30-09.00 Registration

09.00-09.40 Welcome and Key Note Address

Edward Harris (Durham) Professions and Occupations in classical Greece

09.40-11.00 Panel 1: Professions in Ancient Greece: Surveys and Methodology (Chair: Doug Lee)

David Lewis (Edinburgh) Occupational hazards: prolegomena to the study of the division of labour in classical Athens.

Edmund Stewart (Nottingham) Defining an ancient profession: the case of the poetic profession in classical Athens.

11.00-11.40 Break and Registration

11.40-13.00 Panel 2 The law and Rhetoric (Chair: David Lewis)

Brenda Griffith Williams (UCL) Logography in classical Athens: an embryonic legal profession?

Amedeo Raschieri (Milan) Rhetoric as a Skilled Labour and the Definition of Professionalism in Quintilian's Institutio oratoria.

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-16.00 Panel 3 Professionalism and Technology (Chair: Ben Russell)

Marek Verčík (Munich) Sons of Hephaestus: blacksmiths within ancient Greek society.

Nadja Melko (Zurich) The ‘master disaster’: Technical Knowledge and the case of a Roman pottery workshop on Lake Zurich.

Jordi Pérez González (Barcelona) The expertise of specialists: formulas used by Roman craftsmen and traders engaged in the manufacture and sale of jewellery and other luxury metal objects.

16.00-16.40 Break

16.40-18.00 Panel 4 Professionalism, Funeral Monuments, and Epigraphy (Chair: Elizabeth Buchanan)

Natacha Massar (Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels) Private and public perception of technitai in funerary inscriptions, from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period.

Jonathan Scott Perry (South Florida) The Go-Between(s): Assessing the Professionalism of Transportation Workers in Roman Italy.

18.00 Drinks Reception

19.00 Dinner

30th June

08.30-09.00 Coffee / Registration

9.00-11.00 Panel 1 Professionalism and Ancient Art (Chair: Natacha Massar)

Helle Hochscheid (University College Roosevelt, Utrecht) The chisel mightier than the pen? Classical Greek sculptors in text and practice.

Ben Russell (Edinburgh) Roman sculptors at work: carving techniques, workshop organization, and specialization.

Alice Landskron (Vienna) The perception of ‘skills’ in Roman art: the evidence of monuments and written sources.

11.00-11.40 Break

11.40-13.00 Panel 2 ‘Fringe’ Professions and Female Professionals (Chair: Edward Harris)

James Lloyd (Exeter) Auletrides as professional musicians in Classical Athens.

Mary Harlow (Leicester) Spinning: a hidden profession.

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.20 Panel 3 Collective organisation and identity (Chair: Jonathan Scott Perry)

Fanny Opdenhoff (Kiel) Scripsit Aemilius–Were there Professional Sign Writers at Pompeii?

Elizabeth Buchanan (Oxford) Proprietary Farmers and Collective Action in Late Antique Egypt (AD 400-600)

15.20-16.00 Break

16.00-17.20 Panel 4 Military Professionalism (Chair: Mary Harlow)

Charlotte Van Regenmortel (Leicester) Fighting for a Better Living– Greek Mercenaries and Collective Bargaining.

Doug Lee (Nottingham) A Professional Roman Army?

17.20-17.30 Concluding Remarks and End of Conference

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