The Dalrymple Lectures
This prestigious lecture series was instituted by James Dalrymple Gray of Dalrymple. He was born in July 1852 in Newcastle – upon – Tyne to the Reverend Thomas Gray and his wife Mary Dalrymple. He later assumed his mother’s family name when, on the death of his uncle, he succeeded to the estates belonging to the family. He studied law at both Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, and subsequently practised in Glasgow.
In 1877 he became the honorary Secretary of Glasgow Archaeological Society which was in decline at that time. With the help of others he succeeded in reinvigorating the Society and held the post of Secretary for some 25 years. He introduced the regular monthly meeting on the third Thursday of the month (a practice still in force today) and often presented papers on a range of topics, particularly castles and churches. He became President of the Society in 1904.
In 1908 he instituted the Dalrymple Lectureship in Archaeology in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Society. By means of a generous bequest in his will he ensured its continuation to this day. The subject of the lectures was to be ‘some branch of European archaeology’.
The annual Dalrymple Lectures have been given by many of the most distinguished figures in 20th and 21st century archaeology and is administered by a committee of Curators drawn from the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Archaeological Society.
Dalrymple Lecture Series 2022
Polity to polis? The development of Greek communities, c.1450-c.500 BCE
Hosted by the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Archaeological Society, The Dalrymple Lecture series for 2022 will be delivered by Professor Lin Foxhall, the Rathbone Chair of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology from the University of Liverpool.
The four evening lectures in this series will be delivered from 14-17 November 2022 in the Sir Charles Wilson Building at the University of Glasgow.
Evening lectures will begin at 6.30pm, Monday-Wednesday, and from 7.30pm on Thursday evening. Doors will open half an hour before the lectures start. These lectures will be free for all to attend.
These lectures emerge from a major book project on the development of Greek communities from the Later Bronze Age to the late Archaic/early Classical period.
The canonical narrative of the transition from the Bronze Age ‘world of palaces’ to the Classical ‘world of poleis’ (city-states) is a story of dramatic palatial collapse culminating in Iron Age breakdown followed several centuries later by a ‘Greek Renaissance’ and the rapid rise of states (mostly) in the form of the polis. Constructed in the 1980s this remains, albeit with significant nuancing, the foundational paradigm for scholarly understandings of how Greek societies and communities developed and the city-state came to prevail. My aim in these lectures is to re-frame and re-evaluate the social, political and economic changes for communities that took place across the Greek and wider Mediterranean world over this time.
Socio-political development and organisation in the early Greek world was much more than just the story of the eventual emergence of ‘the polis’. The traditional narrative was founded heavily on burial evidence, with the benefit of the hindsight derived from text-driven narratives. Starting instead from the wider material cultural, settlement, landscape and environmental data I will argue that over this long period socio-political entities (what I have called communities and polities), and engagement within and between them, were far more complex and dynamic than is currently recognized. In order to explore this complexity, we need to investigate change not just as a series of high-level, large-scale upheavals and transformations, but instead to start from the bottom up. That is, we need to think in new ways about how communities and polities operated literally on the ground across the Greek world and beyond, and at multiple scales. To do this will entail critically rethinking and replacing long accepted intellectual frameworks and methodologies which have underpinned the accepted narratives.
Lecture 1: Rethinking ‘the state’
Monday 14 November 2022, 6.30-8pm
This lecture explores how we might devise new theoretical and intellectual frameworks for analysing ancient polities and communities. Social typologies of the early to mid-twentieth century still underpin many studies of societies within this long period, as well as of many other times and places. While they may retain some utility for broadly characterizing or describing different kinds of societies (e.g., band, tribal, chiefdom, state), as analytical tools they are weak and static.
Ancient states, polities and communities were obviously very different from modern ones. Nonetheless, relevant theoretical insights and approaches emerging from more recent thinking in politics, political sociology and geography and globalization studies recognise that states and communities, present and past, are much more complicated and dynamic but less institutionally, spatially and structurally coherent than has often been assumed, because they are both influenced and limited by a range of non-state actors and processes. These insights offer exciting, and as yet untapped, potential for rethinking and investigating socio-economic and political development in the ancient world, and the theoretical frameworks and methodologies which shape the questions we ask of our data.
Lecture 2: Communities and rural economies
Tueaday 15 November 2022, 6.30-8pm
Traditional accounts of the transition from Bronze Age to Iron Age in Greece, identified a huge drop in population after the demise of the palaces (around 1200/1150 BCE). Concomitant with this demographic dip, it was argued that in the earlier Iron Age underuse of land for arable farming led to a ‘pastoral economy’, an idea believed to be supported by the importance of animal keeping in Homeric epic (Snodgrass 1980: 34-35; McInerney 2010; Ober 2015). This narrative remains embedded in much current scholarship and has more recently become entangled with debates over the role of climate change in the disruptions which took place at this time.
In light of the enormous amounts of material cultural, scientific and environmental evidence now available the old narratives will no longer do. It is evident that people in the Iron Age did not adopt pastoral lifestyles, keep more animals or increase meat consumption. On the contrary faunal and archaeobotanical evidence and stable isotope analysis suggest that generally people ate very little meat and dairy products and even less fish and depended more heavily on plant-based diets (Papathanasiou and Richards 2015:200-1). Although expectably there is considerable regional variation, relatively small-scale mixed farming agrarian regimes predominated during the Iron Age and there is no evidence for specialist pastoralism (which might well have existed during the Bronze Age as part of palace economies). The challenge now, however, is to replace widely held conceptualizations of this period as ‘protohistory’, often featuring uncritical acceptance of text-driven narratives to explain material cultural data, with more rigorous methodologies for integrating multiple streams of evidence formulated on different scales which are not always easily compatible.
Lecture 3: Mobility and its repercussions
Wednesday 16 November 2022, 6.30-8pm
Much attention has been focused on the ‘sudden’ demise of Aegean palatial societies in the context of perceived widespread disruption around 1200/1150 BCE. Why and how the palaces fell remains an unanswerable question, and though not my primary concern, some repercussions of whatever happened may have produced detectable consequences for subsequent configurations of communities. The examination of contexts of cross-cultural interaction at site and local levels may also demonstrate the limitations of large-scale, broad-brush accounts of Mediterranean connectivity (e.g. Broodbank 2012; Horden and Purcell 200).
One important aspect is the evidence that has emerged over the past several decades for early post-palatial engagement between ‘Mycenaeans’ and communities at the edges of and beyond the heartlands of Bronze Age Greek palaces, notably in northwest Greece and Albania, the coast of Asia Minor, southern Italy and elsewhere. This lecture investigates the implications of these early movements and cross-cultural interactions for how communities organised, re-configured, and reoriented themselves in the wider world. To what extent, if any, did these early connections and relationships encourage particular kinds of trajectories in terms of economic and political developments and hierarchies in different communities and regions? Moreover, to what extent, if any, do they underpin the trajectories of better documented movements of people and the cultural interactions that shapes communities later in the ninth-sixth centuries BCE?
Lecture 4: Polities and communities as actors: collective action on the ground
Thursday 17 November 2022, 7.30-9pm
This lecture investigates the evidence for the kind of collective action that might be termed ‘civic’. By this I mean, polities and communities as formal corporate entities undertaking communal acts where the key actors initiating them did so not in their capacity as individuals but as role holders in a collectively accepted set of political roles and conventions. When did a community or polity behave as something more than the (usually elite) group of individuals or families who governed it, and how can we discern this phenomenon on the ground? And is this something that we should call a ‘state’? For the early Greek world these are surprisingly difficult question to answer.
Material cultural evidence and the few relevant contemporary texts we have suggest that settlements and regions from very early displayed distinct cultural identities on the basis of shared traditions, social, material and religious practices and language. But of course, these need not always equate to more formalised kinds of identity that one might call ‘civic’, as opposed to just a general sense of being part of or affiliated to a particular group, place or community in a more passive sense.
The kinds of data we have often makes it very difficult to understand how communities undertook collective action in different contexts in the first half of the first millennium BCE. However, there are important bodies of primary evidence which document communities and polities executing collective endeavours. Some of these cases have been held up as supporting the existence of a ‘state’. But, two big questions remain: 1) what constituted ‘collective’ in these different cases and 2) when and where can we see contemporary evidence of ‘civic’ action?
Lin Foxhall is Rathbone Professor of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology and the University of Liverpool and leads the University-wide Heritage Research Theme. She also serves as Editor of the Journal of Hellenic Studies (Cambridge University Press).
Previously she was Dean of the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures at Liverpool, Professor of Greek Archaeology and History at the University of Leicester, and Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, where she played a major part in leading the team that discovered the body of King Richard III. She has held posts at St Hilda’s College, Oxford and University College London, and Visiting Professorships in Germany, Denmark and the USA.
An active field archaeologist, she has led and participated in collaborative research projects in Greece and Southern Italy, and has written extensively on agriculture, land use and gender in the ancient Mediterranean, and especially the Greek world, mostly between the Bronze Age and Classical periods.
Dalrymple Lecture Series 2021
Archaeology, Climate Change and Sustainability: Island Perspectives
Hosted by The University of Glasgow and Glasgow Archaeological Society, The Dalrymple Lecture series for 2021 will be delivered by Professor Jane Downes, Director of the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute.
In Scotland’s celebratory Year of Coasts and Waters and as world leaders gather in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference COP26, the four evening lectures in this series will explore how island archaeology, from Rapa Nui in the Pacific to Orkney, contributes timely and vital understandings around sustainability and living with climate change now and in the future.
The four evening lectures in this series will be delivered from the 8-11 November 2021 in the Sir Charles Wilson Building at The University of Glasgow and simultaneously livestreamed.
Evening lectures will begin at 6.30pm, Monday-Wednesday and from 7.30pm on Thursday evening. The lectures will be followed by a short Q&A session. Doors will open half an hour before and due to Covid regulations, numbers are limited to 40 people with 1m social distancing in operation and face masks required.
Lecture 1: Worlds apart: Islands’ sustainability stories
Monday 8 November 2021, 6.30pm-8pm
It is assumed that people’s responses in the past to environmental and climate change will have relevance to our present issues. In this lecture the relevance of archaeology and the uses of the past will be examined critically: how can the experiences of communities in the more remote pre-Anthropocene past provide answers to our present day climate crisis? Fairly crude and well known ‘lessons from the past’ have been drawn previously from island contexts, and here the effectiveness of and justification for these will be examined. Questions around conceptions of past sustainability, how we perceive resilience and adaptation will be explored, and relational approaches that are culturally and historically specific will be espoused.
Lecture 2: Winds of Change: a study of the dialectic between cultural and environmental change
Tuesday 9 November 2021, 6.30pm-8pm
This lecture looks at climate change and sustainability in the past, exploring the relationship between environmental and societal and cultural change. Archaeology and palaeoecology form our understanding of past societies and their relationship to the environment but have not been combined effectively with social theory to explore at a community or ‘lived’ scale the dialectic of environmental and societal change. This lecture examines the particularities of the dialectic between societal and environmental dynamics and change through an analysis of prehistoric island communities.
Lecture 3: Belief in Sustainability: examining the role of ontology and belief systems in sustaining prehistoric communities
Wednesday 10 November 2021, 6.30pm-8pm
In this lecture it is suggested that belief systems and ritual activity was equally as important as subsistence strategies and agricultural activities in sustaining and regenerating prehistoric communities. Examining burial practices, and other overtly ritual or ceremonial contexts, helps understand past ontological understandings of the world and belief systems; it is proposed that ritual efficacy was central to the resilience of communities. The examination of the centrality of attitudes and values in the past in adaptation to climate change presents new models for how the past can be relevant to behavioural change.
Lecture 4: ‘From encounters to actions’: the transformative potential of archaeology in relation to climate change
Thursday 11 November 2021, 7.30-9pm
Here the relevance of archaeology in addressing climate change and sustainable development goals, and the potential role of archaeological heritage in climate action is explored. It is apparent that fundamental shifts in policy and professional practice needed, and a reconsideration of the ‘value’ of archaeological heritage in context of global climate change will be presented. The impact of climate-change induced coastal erosion on archaeological heritage is the focus of the lecture – an impact that affects small islands disproportionality. Examples will be used to illustrate how public engagement in archaeology can improve climate literacy, and the potential power of archaeological heritage to promote a sense of urgency and engender climate action.
Dalrymple Lectures November 2019
Please check this link for information on the Dalrymple Lectures which took place in November 2019.
Dalrymple Lectures February 2019
Professor Gavin Lucas: Department of Archaeology, University of Iceland
Gavin Lucas has been working in archaeology since he was a teenager in the early 1980s, volunteering during the summers for the Museum of London on various developer-led excavations. It was the start of a long, if discontinuous career in contract archaeology which existed parallel to most of his academic life until his first university position in 2006. His formal education in archaeology began as an undergraduate at the Institute of Archaeology UCL in the late 1980s and continued through doctoral studies under Ian Hodder at the University of Cambridge on the topic of time. After completing his PhD in the mid-1990s he took up full-time work in contract archaeology with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit. It was also during this time he started to develop an interest in the archaeology of the modern world, leading a project in South Africa for three years. He moved to Iceland in 2002 to work for an independent archaeological research institution and there led a major excavation project on a Bishop’s seat for six years. Finally in 2006, he joined the University of Iceland, where he remains today as Professor of Archaeology.
Gavin has published extensively in archaeological theory as well as the archaeology of the modern world. His key theoretical texts focus on the practices and methods of archaeology and include the books Critical Approaches to Fieldwork (2001), The Archaeology of Time (2005), Understanding the Archaeological Record (2012) and most recently, Writing the Past (2019). He has also published a book on his South African project An Archaeology of Colonial Identity (2004) and co-edited a volume on Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past (2001). He is currently working on a manuscript on the excavations of a Bishop’s seat in Iceland as well as directing a project on the archaeology of commerce and consumption in Iceland during the 17th-18th centuries.
Lecture 1 Monday 18 February 2019
The Archaeological Clock.
In this talk, he discusses the temporal structure of the archaeological record and the question of scale. Issues such as temporal resolution, time averaging and the long-term all intersect and raise questions about the appropriate time scale of archaeological analysis.
Lecture 2 Tuesday 19 February 2019
His second lecture addresses the problem of change in archaeology. What is it and how does our view of time affect how we comprehend it? The question will be especially linked to pragmatic issues of periodization as well as more abstract concepts such as tempo, revolution and evolution.Reconstruction of a settlement house in Herjόlfsdalur, Vestmannanaeylar.
Lecture 3 Wednesday 20 February 2019
The notion of contemporaneity is the focus of this third talk. How do - and - could, Archaeologists use this concept and what implications might it have for archaeology as different way to engage with time and the past? The topics of memory and duration take a central place in this discussion. Lava flow from 1970s, Heimaey, Vestmannanaeylar.
Lecture 4 Thursday 21 February 2019
Back to the Future.
In his final lecture, he addressed the concept of the future in archaeology. How might/is a sense of the future written into our accounts of the past? Both as past futures (i.e. how do we conceive of the future in past) and as futures of our present (i.e. the relevance of studying the past to our own future). Archaeological site of Skálholt, Iceland in the winter
Dalrymple Lectures 2016
Dalrymple Lectures 2015
Dalrymple Lectures 2014
Dalrymple Lectures 2013
Dalrymple Lectures 2012
Dalrymple Lectures 2011
Dalrymple Lectures 2009
Dalrymple Lectures 2007