National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Lisa C. Nevett

Affiliation: University of Michigan

Lisa Nevett is Professor of Classical Archaeology and Director of the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology with the University of Michigan.  She holds her degrees from the University of Cambridge, and her research interests include the archaeology of the Greek world during the first millennium BCE, the Roman world c. 1st century BCE to 4th century CE, material culture as a source for social history, household archaeology, the built environment, and gender archaeology.  She is Co-Director of the Olynthos Project, and her most recent publications include An Age of Experiment: Classical Archaeology Transformed (1976-2014) (ed. with J. Whitley, 2018, Cambridge, MacDonald Institute of Archaeology Monograph Series).  Professor Nevett was a 2019/2020 AIA Joukowsky Lecturer. She is the Hanfmann lecturer for the AIA’s 2023-2024 National Lecture Program.


This talk asks what the archaeological remains of Greek housing reveal about Greek households during the first millennium BCE. I discuss how the organisation of domestic space can be interpreted to suggest some of the social and cultural factors by which that space was shaped. My talk falls into three parts: after introducing the topic of Greek housing and how the material has traditionally been studied, I move on to spend most of the talk exploring how we can move beyond a static, monolithic understanding of domestic spatial and social organisation towards a more complex picture. I suggest that focusing on differences between houses not only offers a means of exploring change through time in the roles and relationships of the inhabitants, but also provides a way to locate some of those sectors of the population that are under-represented in our traditional sources, including rural dwellers and the less well-off.

Among ancient historians the city of Olynthos is best-known as a regional power from northern Greece which alternately fell under the sway of Athens and of the kingdom of Macedon, before finally being sacked and razed to the ground by the Macedonian king, Philip II, in 348 BCE.  To archaeologists, Olynthos represents the single most extensive and detailed source of information about Greek houses, as a result of the excavations there by David Robinson (1928-1938).  Since 2014 the site has been the subject of renewed investigation by the Olynthos Project, which has been undertaking field survey, geophysical survey and excavation in and around the city.  In this lecture I explore the potential of the evidence from Olynthos for understanding the creation and expression of identity by the city’s inhabitants.  I address various ways in which they actively manipulated their material culture at the level of the household, the neighborhood and the city as a whole in order to navigate their complex political and cultural positions.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Cahill, N.D. 2002. Household and City Organization at Olynthos.  New Haven, Yale University Press.

Nevett, L.C. 1999. House and Society in the Ancient Greek World. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Chapter 4.

Nevett, L. C. 2015. Artefact Assemblages in Classical Greek Contexts: towards a new approach. In Household Studies in Complex Societies: (micro)archaeological and textual approaches, M. Müller (ed.). Chicago, Oriental Institute Seminars 10: 101-116.

Nevett, L.C. et al. 2017. ‘Towards a Multi-Scalar, Multi-Disciplinary Approach to the Classical Greek City: the Olynthos Project.’  Annual of the British School at Athens 112, 155-206.

‘Structural History and Classical Archaeology, 25 Years On’. In L.C. Nevett and James Whitley eds. An Age of Experiment: Classical Archaeology Transformed.  Cambridge, McDonald Institute of Archaeology, 2018, 139-147.



See Lisa C. Nevett's work in the American Journal of Archaeology.

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