“What’s going on? What’s the point of the beetle?”
Though enigmatic, the Aristophanic line that gives this talk its title wonderfully lambasts the hyperactive Ionian allegorical and symbolic traditions. Moving from Ionia to Egypt, I will trace the slow but steady movement of the scarab beetle from Egypt, through Greece, to Rome and unpack the religio-philosophical symbolism the scarab carried on its back in this cross-cultural move. The beetle, if humble, will yet open up wider questions about the translation of symbolic and enigmatic knowledge across culture and the changing cultural authority of Imperial Period Greco-Egyptian authors.
Ted Kelting is a 5th year graduate student currently writing his dissertation, tentatively titled “The Greek Face of Roman Egypt.” Before Stanford, he took his BA from Brown University in Egyptology and Classics.
"Egyptian Blue in Ancient Painting"
In the pre-Dynastic period, Egyptian artisans invented the first synthetic pigment recorded in history, a bright blue mixture of silica, lime, copper, and alkali commonly referred to as “Egyptian Blue.” The pigment’s vivid color made it a popular choice not only in pre-Dynastic and Pharaonic Egypt, but also in the Classical world, where it was exported as a luxury good from the Early Iron Age until Late Antiquity. This paper will review techniques to identify the presence of Egyptian blue—even when it is invisible to the naked eye—and analyze its uses in Egyptian and Roman art in order to shed light on shifting trade and manufacturing patterns.
Gabrielle Thiboutot is a 4th year graduate student at Stanford working on a dissertation provisionally titled “Pigments and panels: the role of trade and innovation in the production of mummy portraits in Roman Egypt.” Her research interests include art production processes, the ancient economy, and Roman portraiture.