The Roman Society

Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies


Events Programme 

M.V. Taylor Lecture

Tuesday 6 February, 2024, 6.00pm
Room G22/26 Senate House
Professor Dan-el Padilla Peralta (Princeton): 338 BCE and the Transformation of Ancient Afro-Eurasia


Joint Event with the Hellenic Society

Tuesday 26 March, 2024, 5.30pm
Room G22/26, Senate House
Changing Attitudes to the Olympic Games
Paul Cartledge (Cambridge): Was there an ancient Hellenic 'Olympic Ideal'?
Tom Scanlon (University of California): Cynisca, breaker of Olympic gender barriers or political pawn?
Shushma Malik (Cambridge): Nero’s Olympic failures and why they matter
Mike Armstrong, Alex Donnachie, Danny Miller: The Hellenic Games: An Immersive Family Show


Joint event with the Hellenic Society and the Society of Antiquaries
Thursday 9 May, 2024, 1-2pm
Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BE and online
Professor David Mattingly (Leicester): Talking to the Ancestors: Iron Age Painted Tombs of the Wadi Draa, Morocco

The Iron Age peoples of the Sahara remain poorly studied archaeologically, so we have little to counteract the dismissive views of desert communities found in the ancient sources, where they tend to be characterized as barbarians and nomads. The Oasis Civilisations project in southern Morocco has been investigating the Iron Age and Medieval inhabitants of an important desert valley, the Wadi Draa. This lecture will present a stunning archaeological discovery of tombs with painted annexes, featuring both geometric designs and human figures.  These pictures open a fresh window on the late Iron Age population and their relationship with the Roman empire to their north. They allow us to compare and qualify the accounts of Greco-Roman writers so as to present a more complex and richer picture of these people, their clothing, lifestyle and beliefs. The lecture will also link to the new data to themes in my recent book on Africa in the Roman Empire.

To book, please visit the Society of Antiquaries website:


AGM and Colloquium: New Discoveries at Pompeii

Date to be confirmed
Room tbc
(speakers tbc)


Joint event with the Hellenic Society and the Society of Antiquaries
Thursday 3 October, 2024, 5-6pm
Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BE and online
Dr Elizabeth Key Fowden: The Evliyan Marbles: Ottoman viewers of Athenian Antiquities

Long treated as a fantastical storyteller, the Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi has been taken more seriously in recent years as an attentive interpreter of Athenian antiquities. Evliya belongs to the handful of writers who saw the Parthenon intact as a mosque before Morosini’s bombardment in 1687. In Evliya’s account the City of Sages, as Athens was known in Arabic and Ottoman, is alive with ancient Greek philosophers whom he imagines to be in telepathic communication with the philosophers of Golden Age Baghdad. His enthusiastic descriptions of figural art disappoint any expectations of Islamic iconophobia. Two later Ottoman descriptions of Athens also linger on the city’s wonders – it had, after all, become a tourist destination for Ottomans too by the eighteenth century. A generation after Evliya, an Athenian cleric named Mahmud Efendi in his History of the City of Sages makes inventive use of ancient history drawn from Greek sources combined with autopsy and Muslim practice in order to make sense of the ancient buildings, above all the citadel mosque. As rarely studied evidence of early modern engagement with Greek antiquity, these accounts allow us to bring Ottoman viewers too into our assessment of the universal resonance of Athens.

Elizabeth Key Fowden is a cultural historian interested in the places where Hellenism and Islam meet. Her forthcoming book The Parthenon Mosque explores Ottoman engagement with ancient Greek culture. At the University of Cambridge her research has been supported by both the Faculty of Classics and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies. This bridging of Greece and the Middle East at Cambridge has taken various forms, including her role as Senior Researcher in the ERC Advanced Grant ‘Impact of the Ancient City’ with Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (PI); as co-PI with Tim Whitmarsh in the interdisciplinary project ‘Greece between Europe and Asia: regionality, religion, and culture’; as organiser with Lily Farhoud and Claudia Tobin of the exhibition and symposium Jerusalem in exile: Artist’s books by Kamal Boullata at the West Court Gallery, Jesus College; and organiser with Deniz Türker of the international curators’ symposium Eastern Mediterranean Embroideries, at the Mohammed Ali Research Center in Kavala, as a prolegomenon to the 2023 Fitzwilliam Exhibition Mediterranean Embroideries for which she produced, together with Marianna Koromila, the accompanying online film.

To book, please visit the Society of Antiquaries website:


Details of past events can be found here.

Visit the Roman Society's YouTube channel to browse videos of past lectures.


Click here to see upcoming lectures hosted jointly with Classical Association.


The Roman Society
Senate House
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU

Telephone: 020 7862 8727


The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (The Roman Society) is a registered charity in the UK.

Charity Registration Number: 210644
Company Registration Number: 114442