Alcock, Susan E.

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ALCOCK, Susan E.

PERSONAL: Female. Education: Yale University, B.A., 1983; University of Cambridge, Ph.D., 1989.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—Department of Classical Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Archeologist. University of Reading, Reading, England, teacher; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, associate professor of classical archaeology and classics, 1994 —, named Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, 2000.

AWARDS, HONORS: Henry Russel Award, University of Michigan, 1998; Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, Archaeological Institute of America, 1998; MacArthur Foundation fellow, 2000.


Graecia Capta: The Landscapes of Roman Greece, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

(Editor with Robin Osborne) Placing the Gods:Sanctuaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor) The Early Roman Empire in the East ("Oxbow Monograph" series), Oxbow (Oxford, England), 1997.

(Editor with John F. Cherry and Jas Elsner) Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Roman Greece, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

(Editor with others) Empires: Perspectives fromArcheology and History, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 2001, (New York, NY), 2002.

Archaeologies of the Greek Past: Landscape, Monuments, and Memories, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

(Editor with Ruth M. Van Dyke) Archaeologies ofMemory, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 2003.

Contributor to works, including Dialogues in Roman Imperialism: Power, Discourse, and Discrepant Experience in the Roman Empire, edited by D. J. Mattingly, JRA (Portsmouth, RI), 1997; and Sandy Pylos: An Archaeological History from Nestor to Navarino, edited by Jack L. Davis, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1998.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Research on perceptions of landscape and social memory.

SIDELIGHTS: Susan E. Alcock is a classical archeologist and the editor and author of a number of scholarly works, including Graecia Capta: The Landscapes of Roman Greece. Reviewing the book in American Historical Review, Alison Burford noted that Alcock's survey "springs from the premise that, whether we accept or reject any of the traditional views—that [the Greeks under roman Rule] were 'a great people in decline,' or living in a 'museum,' or an 'untroubled backwater'—more questions need to be asked, and from different perspectives than have generally been posed."

Gary Reger wrote in the American Journal of Archeology that Graecia Capta "is the first attempt to synthesize the data from all the surveys and to apply the results to a series of important historical questions. The result is a rich and important book that tries to provide a coherent account of the historical development of Greece under Roman rule, which the author takes as the centuries from roughly 200 B.C. to the early Byzantine period."

Alcock studies the province of Achaea and investigates within it the confines of her "landscapes," e.g., rural, civic, provincial, and sacred. The final chapter is an examination of the later Roman period. Ewen Bowie wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that "Alcock's complex set of investigations leaves few aspects of the history of Roman Greece untouched, and makes many more intelligible."

In Classical Review, Graham Shipley called the second and third chapters of Graecia Capta, in which Alcock interprets the results of archeological surveys conducted in Greece during the last fifteen years "the core of the book." "Chapter two argues for a general reduction in rural site numbers, implying not necessarily the actual abandonment of the countryside (an unsettled landscape is not necessarily an uncultivated one) but, at least, some changes in land ownership, possibly involving the formation of larger elite holdings and a fall in the intensity of cultivation. Some of the rural poor may have migrated to towns (Alcock astutely observes . . . that neither the poorest nor the richest in society may have lived in the countryside), while big landowners may have diversified into large-scale pastoralism alongside agriculture." Shipley concluded by saying that "this elegantly written book is a constant delight and provides endless food for thought; almost every part brings together important methodological observations and well-chosen data."

Alcock is coeditor with Robin Osborne of Placing the Gods: Sanctuaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece. The collection contains essays that examine the views presented in historian de Polignac's 1984 essay on the rise of the Greek city-state out of rural sanctuaries. Irad Malkin pointed out in Classical Philology that most of the articles are critical of de Polignac's thesis, although they "never go quite so far as to revise it significantly. With the notable exception of de Polignac himself. It is unclear whether the participants of this volume were aware of de Polignac's views. His article in the volume, 'Mediation, Competition, and Sovereignty: The Evolution of Rural Sanctuaries in Geometric Greece,' a modification of a piece published in French in 1991, presents de Polignac at his best: subtle, sophisticated, brilliant, and far more nuanced than the original Le Naissance de la cite grecque. Binarism is still around, but the insistence on the synchronic, 'bi-polar' perception is not."

In a review of the book in American Journal of Archeology, Michael H. Jameson noted that Alcock "calls attention to the decided decline in the number of rural shrines in the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods (and, in passing, to their apparent scarcity at all times in some regions), no doubt related to the changed use of the land and the relationship of the people to the land." In an Antiquity article, Alain Schnapp said that Alcock "is concerned not only with making good use of [Greek writer] Pausanias but with making good use of the rapport between people and cult practice, the evolution of the sanctuaries, and the patronage of their activities. Nothing more astonishing than the emptying of the countryside at the start of the Roman conquest corresponds to a diminution in the number of sanctuaries observable in the hinterlands of the cities. The merit of Alcock's study is in striking the balance with the principal field surveys that are now in press."

B. C. Dietrich wrote in Classical Review that "most of the articles cast light on a controversial subject. They deserve to be brought together in a 'Sammelband,' even if only to outline the limits of plausibility of Polignac's stimulating ideas."

Alcock is editor of The Early Roman Empire in the East, the companion book to The Early Roman Empire in the West, edited by T. Blagg and M. Millett. David Kennedy noted in Classical Review that "the book contains a number of excellent essays. . . .As Alcock acknowledges, however, the selection has had to omit a great deal. 'East' for her means the Greek East from the eastern Balkans. However, just as the western volume had nothing specific on North Africa, so too this one is silent on the same area; the former had nothing on the Danubian provinces (or Italy and the major western islands), while this one has nothing on Cyprus or Arabia." The papers in Alcock's volume contain four studies of regions, including Syria, Judaea, and the Arabian Gulf; five on cults and images, including Hellenism, the imperial cult, and pilgrimage; two on tombs; and an essay by Millett. As N. James wrote in Antiquity, "it is all written very approachably indeed."

In the preface to Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Roman Greece, Alcock and her coeditors state, "We decided to fan the flames of the modern Pausanian revival." Pausanias, from the west coast of Asia Minor, wrote a ten-book travelogue on portions of mainland Greece in the second half of the second century A.D. He drew on local sources, both oral and written, and concentrated on his description of objects at the expense of the landscape and Greek history. "Among the book's most thought-provoking pieces are those that illustrate the way Pausanias set an agenda for future travellers," wrote Jane Lightfoot in the Times Literary Supplement. "Alcock shows how Pausanias's account of Messenia has diverted modern scholarly attention away from periods of foreign domination; away, too, from areas where his glance did not fall."

Alcock is coeditor of Empires: Perspectives from Archeology and History, a volume that resulted from a conference titled Designs: Comparative Dynamics of Early Empires and which contains revised versions of the seventeen papers presented. The empires discussed range from the first century B.C. forward into the early modern era and are geographically placed in Central and South America, Europe, the Mediterranean, the Near East, Southeast Asia, and China.



American Historical Review, June, 1994, Alison Burford, review of Graecia Capta: The Landscapes of Roman Greece, pp. 876-877.

American Journal of Archaeology, July, 1994, Gary Reger, review of Graecia Capta, pp. 576-577; July, 1996, Michael H. Jameson, review of Placing the Gods: Sanctuaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece, pp. 618-619.

Antiquity, June, 1997, Alain Schnapp, review of Placing the Gods, p. 485; March, 2000, N. James, review of The Early Roman Empire in the East, p. 228.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review, May 30, 2002, William Hutton, review of Pausanias: Travel and Memory in Roman Greece.

Classical Philology, July, 1997, Irad Malkin, review of Placing the Gods, p. 283.

Classical Review, January, 1997, Graham Shipley, review of Graecia Capta, pp. 147-149.

Contemporary Review, February, 1995, B. C. Dietrich, review of Placing the Gods, pp. 296-299; February, 2001, David Kennedy, review of The Early Roman Empire in the East, pp. 433-434; November, 2001, review of Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History, p. 314.

Greece and Rome, October, 1996, P. Walcot, review of Graecia Capta, p. 258.

International History Review, February, 1996, P. A. Cartledge, review of Placing the Gods, p. 104; May, 1997, Arthur M. Eckstein, review of Graecia Capta, p. 358.

Journal of Historical Geography, July, 1994, Malcolm Wagstaff, review of Graecia Capta, p. 342.

Mnemosyne, February, 1996, Onno M. van Nijf, review of Graecia Capta, p. 114.

Times Literary Supplement, March 14, 1997, Ewen Bowie, review of Graecia Capta, p. 24; April 19, 2002, Jane Lightfoot, review of Pausanias, p. 9.*

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Alcock, Susan E.

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