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9th Annual Percy Ure Lecture

Reconceiving the Greek Renaissance

Professor Lin Foxhall, MBE (Hon) FSA

Rathbone Professor of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology at the University of Liverpool

The birth of the Greek polis (city-state) and the travail of its emergence have captured the imagination of classical scholars for well over a century. While many, including Ure, have understood this as a rapid, and even revolutionary, process, ideas about when and how this occurred have been intensely debated and have changed over time. Ure situated the beginnings of the Greek renaissance in the seventh century BCE, entwined with the rise of tyrants. The now canonical position is that of Snodgrass who identified an eighth century emergence of the polis, although this too has stimulated numerous further qualifications and questions. This lecture will investigate how scholars have built narratives of the birth of the polis from the available textual, archaeological and landscape evidence and how the process of constructing them has continued to change. It will question whether we should conceive of this as swift transformation or as the culmination of a longer gestation, and will explore when and where we first see the living polis in our sources.


Lin Foxhall, MBE (Hon.) is Rathbone Professor of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology and Dean of the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool. She also leads the University’s Heritage Research Theme.  Previously she was Professor of Greek Archaeology and History at the University of Leicester, and Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, where she was one of the leaders of the team that discovered the body of Richard III. She has also held posts at St Hilda’s College, Oxford and University College London, and Visiting Professorships in Germany, Denmark and the USA. She has worked on archaeological projects in Greece and Southern Italy and currently co-directs a field project in southern Calabria.

She has written extensively on agriculture, land use, material culture and gender in classical antiquity. Her publications include Studying Gender in Classical Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, 2013), Olive Cultivation in Ancient Greece: Seeking the Ancient Economy. (Oxford University Press, 2007), two co-edited books on masculinity with John Salmon, Thinking Men: Masculinity and its Self-Representation in the Classical Tradition and When Men were Men: Masculinity, Power and Identity in Classical Antiquity (Routledge, 1998), as well as Money, Land and Labour in Ancient Greece, (Routledge, 2002) with Paul Cartledge and Edward Cohen and Intentional History: Spinning Time, Stuttgart: F. (Steiner-Verlag, 2010) with Hans-Joachim Gehrke and Nino Luraghi