Aarhus University Seal

Research stay at UrbNet 2019

by former Visiting PhD student Sebastian Whybrew (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster).

Group photo of the survey team at Doliche (Photo: Sebastian Whybrew).

I am a PhD student in Classical Archaeology and a researcher working on the Doliche excavation project in Turkey (www.doliche.de) of the Forschungsstelle Asia Minor at the University of Münster. In my thesis (working title: Augustus and Apollo. The representation of a deity-ruler relationship and its reception in the Roman Empire), I am investigating the importance of the deity Apollo within Augustan ideology on the basis of archaeological, historical, epigraphical and numismatic sources. The propagation of a close relationship to this deity is to be viewed within the context of Hellenistic and Roman Republican traditions. Particular geographical foci of my work are the city of Rome and the sites of Nicopolis and Actium. The study aims to understand the actors involved in the dissemination of this aspect of Augustan ideology and to evaluate this theme’s importance within the princeps’ self-representation and the position of the deity in relation to other gods such as Mars Ultor and Venus Genetrix. Furthermore, I will present evidence for the reception of the Apolline theme, which can mainly be found in epigraphic finds from the Greek East.

Within the Doliche project, I am responsible for the urban survey.  The survey, which from the outset has been conducted by a team consisting of students from the Universities of Aarhus and Münster, started in 2017. The project’s aims are to identify the size of the site of Doliche focussing on occupation and to gain insights into the settlement chronology and the functional urban layout of the city.

The Doliche project and the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) have been affiliated since 2015. Within the context of this cooperation between the Forschungsstelle Asia Minor and UrbNet, the idea of my research stay at the centre was born.  

From 11 January to 30 June 2019, I was a visiting PhD student at UrbNet. During my stay, I continued my work on my thesis as well as on the survey project. Both aspects of my work profited greatly from my stay at the centre and its collegial and inspiring atmosphere. I was based in the PhD-office, which I shared with UrbNet’s PhD students. During my stay, I had the opportunity to gainfully discuss various aspects of my work with my UrbNet colleagues.

While at UrbNet, I made considerable progress in the processing of the results of our survey. The first weeks, I wrote a report on our fieldwork and its results, which will be part of the first preliminary report on the excavation project in Doliche. The report will be published in the journal Istanbuler Mitteilungen. I also presented the survey project in a lecture at UrbNet and have made substantial progress in my work on the more extensive report for the German Research Foundation.
The work on my thesis also proved very productive. I was able to finish an important chapter on the tradition of deity-ruler relationships in Hellenistic and Roman Republican times, which will serve to place the topic of my thesis into its cultural and historical context and will help to elucidate in which ways Augustus emulated earlier models in the propagation of a special connection to Apollo.

In addition to my own work, I took part in several activities and events at UrbNet. These included the regularly scheduled UrbNet lecture series, the weekly staff meetings, the journal club as well as a conference in Copenhagen and a workshop at UrbNet – both related to the recently inaugurated Caesar’s Forum Project. Through all these activities – as well as conversations with my colleagues at UrbNet – I have gained new insights into issues of urbanism. Furthermore, I have been introduced to sites in various regions of the world outside the focus of Classical Archaeology and methods rooted in the natural sciences. Lastly, I have developed new ways of evaluating, analysing and visualising the results of my work with the data produced during our field campaigns in Doliche.  

UrbNet has offered both a welcoming and collegial as well as a professional and inspiring work environment. My stay has not only been productive, but also personally rewarding. I feel very fortunate to have met everyone at the centre and to have (if only briefly) been a part of it.