This past weekend I was in Atlanta, Georgia, where I met with old friends and colleagues as well as inspiring new acquaintances at the annual conference for the American Schools of Oriental Research held at the Intercontinental Buckhead.
I presented two papers, Terrestrial Imaginations of the Hellenistic Near East in 'Art Historical Approaches to the Near East,' and The Right to Sight: Gender and Ritual at Balalyk-tepe in 'Pre-Islamic Central Asia.'
Terrestrial Imaginations of the Hellenistic Near East presented preliminary ideas and research regarding Hellenistic period attitudes towards Anatolian tumuli in the representation and materiality of sovereignty. With the lessons of the environmental humanities in mind, my paper offered perspectives regarding ways that Hellenistic powers engaged with and reshaped the earth in order to spatialize their authority on the ground, but also to embed their actions with local traditions, cultural practices, and in an axis of time and space embedded in the geological. This research was also presented at the PPEH research colloquium on November 11.
In my second paper, The Right to Sight: Gender and Ritual at Balalyk-tepe, I presented research and results from my MA thesis. My work is the first major study to evaluate the wall paintings and complex of Balalyk-tepe in the Surkhandarya in modern-day Uzbekistan, given its new chronology (7th-8th centuries CE). Through access analysis along with visual and architectural analysis, I probed the social practice of banqueting and the gendered power dynamics among elite individuals, and how such relations are (re)produced through monumental wall paintings in the historical context of late antique Central Asia.
The weekend was productive and stimulating, and I am so excited to incorporate new ideas and suggestions into my work!