Dr Janett Morgan

Personal profile

Personal profile

My primary interest is in the role of human behaviour in the creation and organization of communities in ancient Greece, from the smallest household to the largest city. My research investigates the way in which Greek individuals, groups and communities in the archaic and classical periods constructed identities for themselves through the use of art, architecture, religion and social and sexual behaviour and expressed their differences through the construction and manipulation of the physical landscape. In The Classical Greek House (2010), I examined the evidence for houses and the creation of houses in Athens, Olynthus and Halieis. I argued that our approach to understanding ancient domestic evidence has become too reliant on models based on Athenian culture and on modern perceptions about the house. I advocated that scholarship should move away from the more rigid, modern understanding of ‘house’ to take a contextual view, which would allow us to explore regional difference and gain insights into the different social and political ideologies that underpinned the structure of classical Greek cities.

 The Classical Greek House was developed out of material from my PhD thesis, Domestic Cult in the Classical Greek House, in which I investigated the role of human action in creating and shaping religious spaces. I am currently adapting material from my thesis for a monograph entitled ‘At home with the gods: household religion in the classical Greek city’. This study will offer a more nuanced approach to the material and textual evidence for household religion, looking at the problems we face in using the ancient sources and offering answers to the conundrum of source contradiction.

I am also interested in the creation and organization of ‘barbarian’ communities in the ancient world, in the interaction between Greeks and ‘barbarians’ and in our interpretation of those relationships in the present. I am currently writing a monograph for the new Edinburgh University Press series Edinburgh Studies in Ancient Iran. My contribution, entitled, Greek Perspectives of the Achaemenid Empire: Persia through the Looking Glass, will be a study of the ways that Greeks acquired and represented knowledge of Persia and the Achaemenid Empire. It will look at the contexts in which Greeks met Persians, at the journeys undertaken into Persia, at the physical view of Persia seen by Greek travellers and at the view that was carried back and disseminated in the communities of Greece. I will re-examine and evaluate the diverse range of views of Persia and Persians, presented by archaic and classical Greeks, taking into account the historical, political, social and archaeological factors that inspired and manipulated different representations and consider how our present view of Persians and Persian life has been shaped through the filter of Greek interpretation.

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