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A.G.A.T.H.O.C.L.E.S. International Webinar Series, 1st Edition: An Assessment

by Eleni Hasaki and Marco Serino


The first season of the “A.G.A.T.H.O.C.L.E.S. International Webinar Series” took place in Spring 2022 (March 2 - April 6). It included six speakers from the United States and Canada, representing both academic institutions, research centers, and museums ended. It was co-organized by Eleni Hasaki (University of Arizona) and Marco Serino (University of Turin) within the framework of Serino’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie project called “A.G.A.T.H.O.C.L.E.S. The Archaeology of Gesture: Apprenticeship, Tools, Hands, Organization, Collaboration, Learning Experience and Social Network Analysis”. It was held on Wednesdays in conjunction with a joint seminar partially co-taught by Eleni Hasaki and Marco Serino at the University of Arizona and the University of Turin respectively (Fig. 1).


Fig. 1 A.G.A.T.H.O.C.L.E.S. International Webinar Series - 1st Edition Program


Since the A.G.A.T.H.O.C.L.E.S project – which started in October 2021 – focuses on the study of the productive technology, the formative models and the organization networks of the ancient red-figure pottery workshops of Magna Graecia and Sicily, the main purpose of this International Webinar Series was to involve experts in Classical Archaeology, ceramics, and digital humanities.

One of the main goals of the Webinar Series was to show the highly multidisciplinary approach that can be used today to better understand and study the artisanal savoir-faire in classical antiquity.

American and Italian students had the opportunity to share and discuss their ideas with their professors and with the international invited speakers. Each scholar delivered an engaging a lecture on very intriguing topics and heightened students’ awareness on the most important methodological approaches employed today in Classical Archaeology, including the most modern ones, such as the application of digital humanities along with the importance of cultivating community-engaging scholarship. As the speakers represented a wide spectrum of career trajectories and career stages, from recent PhD holders, to tenure track faculty, digital humanities center directors, provost level administrators, and museum curators, the students were able to observe the necessary professional, academic, and technical skills to succeed professionally. This valuable exposure to career preparedness amplified the intellectual benefits from the webinars.


Angela Ziskowski (Coe College) showed a case-study related to Archaic Corinthian vase painters through data analytics and computer programming that can offer innovative ways to study and reevaluate thousands of vases that have already been attributed to specific painters and to examine what economic patterns and behaviors can be detected at the individual level of production (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Screenshot from the lecture of Angela Ziskowski (Coe College)


Jared Benton (Old Dominion University) spoke about the scale of production in antiquity, the Roman state involvement in craft activities, the social status of craftspeople, the importance of Roman craft iconography for the technological studies, and the crucial role of comparative studies (also between modern and ancient times), combining archaeological evidence with social science considerations (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 Screenshot from the lecture of Jared Benton (Old Dominion University)


Chris Motz (Elon University) provided an intriguing overview of Roman social and economic history with a focus on daily life, crafts and industry, infrastructure, and urbanism. His lecture engaged with questions about social networks and connectivity, economic systems, modes of learning, architecture, and construction through the case-study of workshops in the Roman fish-salting and fulling (laundering) industries (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4 Screenshot from the lecture of Chris Motz (Elon University)


David Saunders (J. Paul Getty Museum) presented the most important project carried out during the last decade by the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu) related to ceramics and, more in general, to ancient artefacts also in relation to the conservation activities and how an important cultural institution such as the Getty can promote and communicate these specific and sometimes difficult concepts to a wider audience (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5 Screenshot from the lecture of David Saunders (J. Paul Getty Museum)


Sanchita Balachandran (John Hopkins Archaeological Museum) discussed how new diagnostic methodology coming from computational imaging, such as RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) can improve our knowledge on some ancient technological features. Moreover she demonstrated how the combination between these new digital humanities approaches and experimental archaeology can constitute new attempts for better understand ancient artisanal expertise and technology especially related to figured pottery and the managing of firing process (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6 Screenshot from the lecture of Sanchita Balachandran (John Hopkins Archaeological Museum)


Shawn Graham (Carleton University) closed our Webinar Series with an overview on the so-called “Digital Archaeology” and on Network Studies applied on archaeological case-studies. He showed the potentiality of neural networks and predictive modeling related to humanities and research activities in this field of study (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7 Screenshot from the lecture of Shawn Graham (Carleton University)

The Webinar Series were part of the dissemination strategy of the A.G.A.T.H.O.C.L.E.S. project, mainly aimed at an audience of MA and PhD students but opened to everyone. In addition to the lively participation in these webinars from Italian and US students, even from widely different time zones, we welcomed faculty from the School of Anthropology, the Department of Religious Studies and Classics, and the School of Art at the University of Arizona, along with faculty from the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Turin. Moreover, community members belonging to NGOs from Tucson and Turin also joined the seminars, creating a global audience stretching beyond the walls of the classroom.


Building upon the success and warm reception of the First Edition of the “A.G.A.T.H.O.C.L.E.S. International Webinar Series”, we are happy to announce the Second Edition which will be held in Spring 2023 with the participation of new invited speakers that will be announced later in 2022.

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