Technology has accompanied humans throughout our evolution, development and history. Human engagement with technology, in all its aspects, is somewhat symbiotic: although many animals create and use tools in their daily lives, only humans have integrated technology so completely, in a cyclical relationship.

Indeed, the entire archaeological paradigm of the ancient world is shaped by our ideas concerning technological development: the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages. These eras are defined by monumental jumps in humanity’s ability to manipulate our world through technology.

Concepts of technology and craftsmanship feature prominently in religious thought from many ancient civilisations, including dedicated gods such as Hephaestus in Greece, Ptah in Egypt and Ea/Enki or Mummu in Babylon. Technology (sometimes indistinguishable from magic) abounds in mythology, including stories about Talos, Daedalus and even the arks of Gilgamesh and Biblical myth.

Stone pointsThe ancient world offers many instances of technology: metalwork for weapons, vessels, jewellery and coins; ceramic ware production; writing systems that enabled bureaucracies to develop and societies to flourish; architecture building the structures of daily life and of empires. There are also things that might not seem technological at first? Are the tools of ritual or ‘magic’ forms of technology? Personal objects—such as hair combs or other toiletry items—encompassed dual roles as both items of adornment and functional pieces

Fantastic automata featuring complex self-operating mechanisms are frequently described by Hellenistic authors and were used for a variety of purposes, including religious processions or display, practical reasons or for demonstrating scientific principles.The famous Antikythera mechanism, recovered from the bottom of the Aegean, may even represent the earliest known analogue computing device.

SwordsIn warfare too, the continuous evolution of technology played an important role in the trajectory of civilisation. The introduction of technologies such as the Naue II sword, the compound bow, the chariot and the sarisa often heralded a complete revolution in battlefield tactics and contributed to the rise or fall of entire empires. The rapid development of defensive and offensive siege techniques during the Classical and Hellenistic period in Greece can be considered an ancient technological arms race.

No less important than archaeological material culture is the literature of the ancient world. From its very beginnings, text-based media have engaged with the possibilities and dangers of technology in myriad ways. Homer imagined technological innovations, retrojections and syntheses in epic; the plays of Aescylus, Sophocles and Euripides made repeated use of the deus ex machina; Roman novelists play with the technology inherent in magic and religion.

Contemporary technology assists us to not only understand the ancient past, but to communicate our ideas about it. Geographic information systems, global positioning systems, and ground penetrating radars have revolutionised archaeological fieldwork. Open access publishing and online pedagogy have changed the way we research, disseminate, teach and learn about the ancient world.Students have embraced the growth of digital humanities, which has provided access to previously hidden manuscripts, texts and even languages. Virtual reality reconstructions of archaeological sites, 3D printing, digital mapping software and interactive museum exhibits enable us to visualise what the ancient world looked like, allowing for greater public awareness of the work researchers are doing, and inviting contemporary interactions.

Much like today, for the ancient world technology was rarely just a functional element of life. Technology inspired, engaged, dissembled, destroyed and created. Technology has been, and continues to be, essential to human life. We hope that our musings here may provide potential contributors with inspiration regarding the 2015 Amphora Issue.























Dear friends of The Amphora Issue of the MHJ,

we invite you to join us for the launch of the 2014 edition of the Amphora Issue entitled “Possession.” The event will take place on the 26th of February, from 5-7pm at The Arts Hall (Old Arts building), The University of Melbourne.

The latest issue and past editions will be available for purchase at the launch. Shortly, this issue will be available through our website and will be available online through GALE and EBSCO.

Some highlights within this edition include:

Kyle Gervais (University of Western Ontario), “This is my Sparta! 300 (1998), 300 (2007), and Three (2013 – 14).”

Lindy Allen (Museum Victoria), “The Never Ending Story: The Repatriation of Ancestral Remains from Museums.”

Christopher Hale (University of Melbourne), “Middle Helladic Matt Painted and Dull Painted Pottery at Mitrou: an Important Distinction in Central Greece.”

Kyle Conrau-Lewis (Yale University), “The Perversion of Virtue: a Case Study of Statius’ Hippomedon.”

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the Editorial Collective <>.

Many thanks,
Christopher Hale.
Chair of the Amphora Issue Editorial Collective.



The past is a contested space where memories, meanings and habitation are negotiated, constructed and claimed.

Through researching, interpreting, and recording the past, privilegeEleusis ed is created and maintained, conferring a sense of possession. Who can claim to be the rightful owner of an ancient past?

Ancient world researchers constantly construct the past from physical remains, material objects, literary and other texts. Such intimate knowledge creates a powerful possessiveness towards a past that is simultaneously valued and jealously guarded. Are archaeologists, ancient historians or classicists privileged over other claimants, such as contemporary novelists and film-makers?

How valid are the claims of modern populations to the ancient pasts of their homelands or ancestors? Fractious arguments over the repatriation of objects and human remains continue: governments, cultural organisations, indigenous communities, and the public all claim the rights of possession over the material past. For contemporary indigenous communities worldwide, possessing the past is not merely the right to tell a story or display an object. It is the right to recognition, self-determination and often survival, despite past colonial brutality. Possessing the past is political. It is also personal and emotional.  The power of possession and the concept of ownership is the theme of the 2014 AMPHORA issue of the MHJ.




Fes UniversityAs scholars of the past in various disciplines, we must constantly contend with the fact that we are considerably displaced from our subject matter temporally, socially, and culturally. This displacement predicates the necessity of narrativisation – the construction of discourse in order to make a meaningful telling from an assortment of facts. For both classics and archaeology, there has been a recognition that texts can be interpreted through many frameworks, destabilising the notion of ‘authentic’, purely objective meaning.

Narrative is transformative in that objects and texts are put it into words, and the way these words are organized is specific to one’s aim in verbalizing the past. The author chooses to describe objects and texts in a certain way, adding or subtracting specific details depending on what he/she wishes to say about it.

Moreover, text is often privileged at the expense of other types of experience, itself generating a simulated experience. The past is easily constructed by manipulating the description of elements in a narratival sequence that would be easily understood by the recipients of the information.

The theme of narrativisation will be address by our feature articles in the forthcoming publication of The Amphora Issue of MHJ.

The best reviews teach the reader something about the field in addition to announcing and describing the book. A good review places the targeted book in the context of its field, shows its importance, place, historical or social function, what it offers and does not offer, and any connection to trends in the field. It may identify the academic or philosophical lineage of the author, the identity of the school of thought represented by the book, the place of the book’s ideology in the philosophical continuum of the field, or some other quality of the book placed against the texture of the field. When presented in this fashion, the reader learns not only about the book under review, but also about the field.

Robin W. Erwin, Jr, ‘Reviewing Books for Scholarly Journals’, in Writing and Publishing for Academic Authors, eds. Joseph Michael Moxley, Todd V. Taylor, Todd Taylor (USA: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1997), 85.


Book Reviews for the 2013 Amphora Issue are due 31 August. Potential books for review must have a publication date within the last two years. See Book Reviews for more details.