Current Residential Fellows

The CHS supports postdoctoral researchers with a variety of configurations. Fellows receive varying levels of support and may reside at the Center in Washington, DC for up to 18 weeks, depending on the scope of their proposed project. For information about CHS fellows based in Greece, see the CHS Greece website.

CHS Spring 2024 Residential Postdoctoral Fellows in Hellenic Studies 

Olga Christakopoulou 

When looking at a particular piece of Iron Age ceramics, the repeating geometric patterns may seem pleasingly symmetrical, but, is the choice of specific geometric depictions important?  

The project “Cracking the Code; Symbols, meanings and networks in Early Iron Age Greece. Evidence from the Stamna pottery,” attempts a first approach of the cultural significance of the individual and recurring motifs/symbols that adorned over 700 hundred ceramic vases at Stamna Aetolia, yielded from the excavation of nearly 500 tombs. Their evaluation is based on the motifs’ geometry, their spatial arrangement on the respective surface, and also on aesthetic criteria. The puzzle of pinpointing the provenance of a multitude of motifs from Stamna, but also from areas further away, reinforces our argument that they may have functioned as symbols of identity, encrypting social notions which extend across or beyond ethnic identities in the wider region of Eastern Mediterranean, the Aegean, Asia Minor etc. This project goes beyond typologically defined ceramic styles, to explore material culture meanings and group interactions, integrated, inter alia into politically staged exchange mechanisms between the Iron Age elite. It is important to stress that the locally produced pottery introduced a new repertory with completely new percentages of vessel types and motifs. By all means it relates to an interpretative model of an international ‘language’ of communication which, by breaking down conventional geographical boundaries, allowed the populations concerned to reproduce and promote aspects of their Society. Αs this proposal constitutes a collaborative project, the interpretation of the motifs will be supported by Quantitative analysis that employs GIS techniques, with the collaboration of Dr Eleni Simoni (Geology Department, University of Patras). 

Olga Gioulika Christakopoulou, currently conducting this research at the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, also holds the position of Antiquities Curator in Greece at the Ephorate of Antiquities of Achaea. Her academic journey began at the University of Ioannina, while she completed her doctoral studies in Archaeology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, with her thesis ‘The Cemetery of Stamna and the Protogeometric Period in Aetolia/Akarnania.’ She has actively participated in excavations at pivotal sites in Achaia and Aetolia/Akarnania. She has made significant contributions to museum exhibitions, showcasing her expertise in Aegean archaeology, particularly focusing on Late Bronze Age and Early Greek civilizations in Western Greece. She is also a writer of scientific articles and books. 

Samuel Holzman is an archaeologist and architectural historian studying the built environment of ancient Greece broadly, from the Early Iron Age through Hellenistic periods. Representative publications this year have examined engineering innovation and structural daring in ancient stone construction and the reception of ancient building tools by Renaissance architects. 

  While completing his PhD dissertation research on Ionic column capitals in 2017, Holzman apprenticed with the marble carvers working on the Parthenon Restoration Project. This experience instilled an appreciation for the labor and craft involved in ancient architecture. At the Center for Hellenic Studies, he is now embarking on a new project: The Ancient Greek Stone Mason, A Total History. The project seeks to put the figure of the stone mason at the center of the story of ancient Greek architecture, emphasizing the place of the itinerant, entrepreneurial builder as a cross-pollinator of ideas about structure and design in the ancient Aegean. It aims to bridge a gap between the technical history of ancient building methods and the social history of craftspeople in the Greek and Roman world. 

Holzman is an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, where he is jointly appointed in the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies. He leads the architectural research team of American Excavations Samothrace. In summer 2024, he will travel to Greece and Turkey as a co-organizer of PITHOS (Princeton-Ioannina-Thessaly On-Site Seminars), which brings together advanced graduate students in archaeology from the United States and Greece, and as a co-organizer of a Getty Connecting Art Histories traveling seminar studying architectural networks between the northern Aegean and Black Sea regions

Dylan James is a cultural historian of ancient Greece, working at the intersection of historiography, identity, geography, and cultural interaction. Before the CHS, he held postdoctoral fellowships at the Haifa Center for Mediterranean History and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was also Margo Tytus Summer Residency Fellow at the University of Cincinnati in 2019. He holds a DPhil in Ancient History from the University of Oxford (2019), an MPhil from Macquarie University in Australia (2013) and a BA (Hons) from the University of Canterbury in his home country of Aotearoa New Zealand (2008). 

His doctoral thesis and monograph project, now in its final stages, focuses on bilingual individuals in Greco-Roman historiography. This has spawned several publications, including a forthcoming article in Classical Quarterly on bilingualism and Greek identity in the fifth century BCE. His postdoctoral project is concerned with the representation of indigeneity, identity, and local guides in the Greek and Roman historiography of imperialism. The comparative historical angle to this work has led to a volume on theorising comparative history (under review with Liverpool University Press), co-edited with Dr. Stephen Harrison of Swansea and based on a conference held in 2022. His increasing familiarity with comparative material from the British Empire has led, in turn, to the development of a new project dear to his heart, which he will begin in earnest at the CHS. A work of classical reception, this study will explore the ways in which Classics and popular ideas about the ancient Mediterranean shaped evolving identities and relations between European settlers and Indigenous Māori communities in 19th-century Aotearoa. 

Konstantinos (Constantine) Karathanasis is a cultural historian of democratic Athens. He holds a B.A. in Philology from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, an M.Litt. in Greek and Latin from the University of St. Andrews, and a Ph.D. in Classics from Washington University in St. Louis. His work focuses primarily on the material and ideological parameters that shaped the reality and life of Athenians of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Some of the topics explored in his published work to date include the tumultuous market-based relationship between Athens and the kingdom of Macedon on the eve of the Peloponnesian War, the imperial ideology undergirding Athenian honorific decrees, and the negative incentives implemented in Athens with an aim to maintain satisfactory levels of civic participation. During his time at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Constantine is working towards composing a history of democratic civic motivation and its evolution in classical Athens. As the first documented democracy in the world, Athens implemented monetary incentives initially to defray the costs of participating in the military, but gradually those incentives found their way in every aspect of civic life, from volunteering as a judge to voting in the Assembly. In our ancient sources, critics of the Athenian democracy insisted that the participation of everyday citizens in politics was predicated on utilitarian motives. During the last decades, social scientists have shown that incentives “crowd out” internal motives that are based on pro-social preferences, such as one’s sense of duty. Examining thus our ancient sources through the lens of Behavioral Economics, Constantine is interested in understanding the profoundly catalytic effect of money on the civic culture of Athens’s democracy. 

Photo credit: Noamieh Jovin

Patricia Eunji Kim,  PhD is an art historian, curator, and educator based in New York City. She is Assistant Professor at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and Senior Editor and Curator-at-Large at Monument Lab. Her work examines visual and material culture to consider dynamics of gender, race, power, and memory in antiquity and the present. Her monograph, The Art of Hellenistic Queenship: Bodies of Power (Under Contract, Cambridge University Press) is the first book-length study on the visual and material culture of royal women from the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia, spanning the fourth to second centuries B.C.E.—a corpus of materials central to a show that she is guest-curating at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Dr. Kim also brings her perspectives as an art historian to bear on the most pressing social, cultural, and political issues that we face today. Among others, she has written about environmental temporalities, transnational memory cultures, and cultural heritage. Recent publications include Timescales: Thinking Across Ecological Temporalities (University of Minnesota Press, 2020), The National Monument Audit (Monument Lab, 2021), and Queens in Antiquity and the Present: Speculative Visions and Critical Histories (Bloomsbury, Forthcoming).  

Committed to public access and engagement, Dr. Kim has experimented with research methods that create open knowledge communities. To that end, she has collaborated with artists, scientists, and experts in civic tech and data to develop public-facing art installations and storytelling initiatives. Her curatorial and public engagement work includes: Sex: A History in 30 Objects (2015-16); The Golden Age of King Midas (2016); Data Refuge and Data Refuge Storytelling (2016-20); Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq (2017-18); Date/um: Ecological Temporalities Across the Schuylkill River (2016-17); Monument Lab Field Trip (2020, 2022); Shaping the Past (2021-22); Fluid Matters, Grounded Bodies: Decolonizing Ecological Encounters (2022, 2023-24); Slow Motion (2024-25). 

Alaya Palamidis is interested in Greek religion and sanctuaries. She received her PhD from the University of Liège in 2017. Her dissertation dealt with abandoned sanctuaries and relocated cults in the ancient Greek world. From 2021 to 2023, she was a member of the Mapping Ancient Polytheisms project led by Corinne Bonnet at the University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès, which investigates the names of the gods in the Greek and West-Semitic world. Her postdoctoral research also concerns religious knowledge and Greek sanctuaries as intellectual centres. 

During her time as a CHS fellow, she will work on the publication of her dissertation, and she will delve deeper into specific topics, such as a question that has been puzzling her for years: why are hundreds or even thousands of lamps from the Imperial period found in some caves or peak sanctuaries that were used as cult sites in the Archaic or Classical period but where then seemingly abandoned for several centuries? 

Helene Simoni studied History & Archaeology (University of Athens) and undertook an M.A. in Landscape Studies (University of Leicester) and a PhD in the use of GIS in Urban Cultural Resource Management (University of Patras). She works at the Department of Geology at the University of Patras, where she teaches GIS/ Remote Sensing, Cartography and Protection of Heritage. In addition, she delivers lectures on Greek landscape, art and archaeology for the international students at the University. Co-founder of the Landscape Archeology Group (based in Athens) and the Institute of Local History (based in Patras), she has been involved in numerous archaeological and Local History projects, and has been active in raising public awareness, with talks, exhibitions, educational programs, papers and books. 

As a Harvard CHS research fellow, she is engaged in a collaborative project, with co-fellow Dr Olga Christakopoulou.  The project investigates the impact of pottery from a Protogeometric cemetery in Stamna, Aetolia upon western Greece while contemporary developments in a wider geographical framework are considered. The Stamna pottery comes from 500 burials dated almost exclusively in the Late Protogeometric era. Here, 709 vessels constitute one of the largest collections of painted pottery found in a single cemetery of this period in Greece. Certain repeated geometric decorative patterns on their surface raise questions regarding their meaning. The objective is to demonstrate how various theoretical perspectives in the interpretation of pottery can be integrated with Qualitative (implemented by Olga) and Quantitative (implemented by Helene) analysis. Quantitative analysis will employ GIS techniques. Spatial analysis will identify the distribution of motifs and of the related sites across the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. Are they located randomly, or do they form clusters? Correlation and density calculations of the decorative motifs on the vessels will provide insights as to their relative positions and their statistical significance. Network analysis will seek to reconstruct travelling flows and social connections along with their implications for decorative motifs. Cost paths and georeferencing old maps will be particularly useful for understanding terrestrial movement. The analytical and methodological framework of this proposal employs applications which are notably missing in the specific spatio-temporal context. This project will hopefully have an impact on understanding “Dark Ages” societies and will enhance the wider picture of the Aegean Early Iron Age.  

Oct 2022 Portrait of Debby Sneed, Classics, CLA. Mandatory Credit: Sean DuFrene /  Photographer Strategic Communications California State University, Long Beach
Photo Credit: Sean DuFrene

Debby Sneed is an Assistant Professor of Classics at California State University, Long Beach and currently serves as the Field Director of the Athenian Agora excavations. She holds a PhD in Archaeology from the University of California, Los Angeles; an MA in Classics from the University of Colorado at Boulder; and a BA in English and History from the University of Wyoming. While at the CHS, she is working on her first book, which explores the intersection of physical disability and belonging in ancient Greece. In this book, Sneed argues that ancient Greeks did not define the Self as nondisabled, and that disabled people regularly participated within their families and communities in similar ways as their nondisabled peers. By addressing the roles that disabled people occupied in traditional facets of ancient life—marriage and childbirth, labor and the economy, military service, and religious practice—she shows that while the ancient Greeks were clearly aware of the lived realities of physical disability, they did not situate physically disabled people as Other. In addition to working on this book, Sneed will finish writing an article on a late 6th century BCE Greek statue of a maiden (a kore) from the Athenian Acropolis that represents a dwarf woman. With this article, as with the book, she demonstrates that exclusion is not a natural or necessary social consequence of disability. By presenting new ways for looking at disability in the past, she argues that popular understandings of disability have obscured the reality of its cultural contingency and encourages readers to recognize and confront their modern, statistically-grounded conception of the perfect and the perfectible body. 

Julia Sturm is a philologist and historical linguist who works on problems related to the development of the Greek language and its position in the context of other ancient Indo-European languages, literatures, and cultures. She is also interested specifically in archaic Greek and in the poetic language of Greek epic. She received her PhD from Harvard University and her BA from St. John’s College, Annapolis. She recently completed a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship at the University of Copenhagen, studying climate and weather vocabulary and metaphor in Classical and other ancient Indo-European languages. Her current CHS research involves the preparation of a monograph focusing on the history and development of the ancient Greek verbal system, specifically the morphology of the so-called ‘nasal present’ verbs.  

Michiel van Veldhuizen works on the literature and culture of the ancient Greek world, particularly that of the Archaic and Classical periods, as well as its reception in the modern world. He is interested in such topics as oracles, the problem of evil, animals, dreaming, and plagues, and he uses approaches from semiotics, cognitive studies, and ecocriticism to analyze ancient and modern mentalities alike. His publications include articles and chapters on becoming-animal on Circe’s island, decoding oracles in Herodotus’ Histories, Poseidon’s earthquake agency, and Pindar’s eclipse poem (Paean 9).  

At the Center, Michiel will finish the manuscript of his first monograph, Divining Disaster: Signs of Catastrophe in Ancient Greek Culture, in which he argues that the consultation and interpretation of oracles – and divine signs in general – function as a form of hermeneutic disaster management, resolving the Uncertainty produced by the disaster by embedding it in a larger system of signification, both on ritual and narrative levels. Michiel is also looking forward to starting his next project, a book on the cognitive history of guessing in Greco-Roman antiquity. Taking the ancient saying that “the best seer is the one who guesses well” as its starting point, the project explores traces of the mode of inference described by C.S. Peirce as “abduction” in ancient thought, specifically in the context of divination. 

Michiel received his PhD in Classics from Brown University (2019). He taught at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (the Centro) for a year, before coming to the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2020 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Classical Studies. 

Alexandra Villing  is an archaeologist and curator of the Greek collections at the British Museum. She holds an MPhil and DPhil from Oxford University, having begun her studies in Freiburg, Germany. Fieldwork has led her to Turkey (Miletos and Knidos), Israel (Tel Kabri) and most recently Egypt (Naukratis). For the British Museum she has co-curated exhibitions on ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’ (2019/20) and ‘Fantastic Creatures’ (2011/12) and contributed to the 2016 exhibition ‘Sunken Cities’. Her research centers on the ancient Greek world in the first millennium and especially the interaction between Greece and neighboring cultures, where she explores the role of material culture in social, cultural and religious practice and often collaborates with scientists, such as for the edited volume Ceramics, Cuisine and Culture (2015). Other publications have concerned ancient Athens, Greek relations with Persia and Anatolia, aspects of Greek pottery, religion and iconography, and the history of research; they also include volumes on Athena in the Classical World (2001) and a children’s book on the ancient Greeks. 

For the past twenty years a particular research focus has been relations between Greece and Egypt, which has included directing a major international and interdisciplinary research and fieldwork project on the Egyptian-Greek trading port of Naukratis. Combining a reassessment of 19th and 20th century work with new fieldwork at the site, the project traces Naukratis’ development and changing role as a gateway for exchange between Egypt and the Mediterranean world from the 7th century BC until the 7th century AD. Publications to date include the online catalogue Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt, currently in the process of being updated) and the edited volume Naukratis: Greek Diversity in Egypt (2006). During her fellowship at the CHS she will complete a volume on the project’s own fieldwork and work on a monograph on the history and archaeology of Naukratis.