Comparative Antiquity: A Humanities Council Global Initiative

Nkiru Nzegwu, Professor of Africana Studies, Binghamton University, presents at the Conference on Comparative Ancient Philosophy in March 2019

Martin Kern (East Asian Studies)

2020-2021 is the final year of the initiative

The Comparative Antiquity Research and Teaching Collaboration is a Humanities Council Global Initiative. This three-year, multifaceted collaboration fosters research and teaching in pursuit of a new paradigm toward the study of “global antiquity” that is extensive in geographical and chronological scope and inclusive in disciplinary participation and methodologies.

The Initiative aims to transform the research and study of antiquity, broadly conceived at Princeton, in hopes of providing a model for similar change elsewhere. It includes an ever-growing number of participants from multiple departments and programs across campus as well as from the Princeton University Library and the Princeton University Art Museum.

The year 2018-19, the Initiative’s first, sees a widening group of participants and activities. At its heart are three faculty-graduate student reading groups which grapple with the reimagining of the pre-1000 world through connective scholarship across the disciplines and through comparison as a method and means of collaboration.

Upcoming and continuing activities include conferences, workshops, a bibliographic project, and long-term and short-term academic visitors. Activities initiated by members of five different departments underline the Initiative’s priority to connect Princeton’s scholars across campus while highlighting the methodological potential of the project.

2018-2019 Projects
Short Term Visiting Fellow

Falko Daim, Program in Medieval Studies, April 2019


HUM 245/CLA 246/HLS 245: Creation Stories: Babylonian, Biblical, and Greek Cosmogonies Compared

Johannes Haubold

This course compares the canonical cosmogonies of ancient Mesopotamia, Israel and Greece. We will study in detail the creation epic Enuma eliš and the flood epic Atra-hasis from Babylon, the opening chapters of the Biblical book of Genesis, and Hesiod’s Theogony and Catalogue of women; as well as considering related texts from across the ancient Mediterranean. We will ask how the set texts describe the earliest history of the world and what this meant for their ancient audiences, how they relate to each other, and how they inform the long history of human investigation into the origins of the universe.

Meetings and Workshops

Comparative Antiquity: Comparative Historiography: February 16, 2019, 9:00-5:30, Jones Hall 202

A Planning meeting at Princeton with colleagues from a number of institutions to develop a series of international symposia concentrating on the historiographical traditions of various civilizations.

World, State, Body

A graduate student led workshop will examine connections between the organization of the state and the function of the body in metaphorical and social interpretations, especially in Chinese and ancient Mediterranean contexts. Contact Thomas Davies.

Conference on Comparative Ancient Philosophy: March 18-19, 2019, 9am-5:40pm; Marx Hall 301

A graduate student organized conference will assemble scholars with a broadly philosophical approach to share work on thought generated in the formative eras of global civilizations that shape value thought in fields like ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, and religion. Contact Joseph Moore.

Read about the event here.

Faculty Group Travel

Faculty members of the Initiative will participate in ‘Global Classicism’ at Yale-NUS in summer 2019.

Interdisciplinary Reading Groups

Comparative AntiquityModerator, Andrew Feldherr

Textuality, Materiality, and Reading PracticesModerator, AnneMarie Luijendijk

Comparative DiplomaticsModerators, Helmut Reimitz and Marina Rustow

Interdisciplinary Digital Bibliography of Antiquity

Foundational work completed by John O’Leary (EAS) and Zhuming Yao (EAS)

Comparative Antiquity Co-sponsorships

Philological Reflections, April 4-5, 2019

Eranshahr in the Age of Transition from the Sasanian to the Islamic Period, May 10, 2019

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