Global Antiquities

Global Antiquities is a founding pillar of the Yan P. Lin Centre for the Study of Freedom and Global Orders in the Ancient and Modern Worlds at McGill University in Montreal.


Globalization has changed the organization of research and teaching in the Humanities. The composition of the faculty and of the student body at our universities has diversified, and this process is accompanied by a transformation of research portfolios and teaching curricula. At many universities, Western Civilization courses have already given way to offerings that apply a more multi-faceted approach to history, society and culture. While these developments are well under way, it is only gradually that we have come to realize that the current re-negotiation of concepts and contents requires a new approach towards the cultural foundations of human society.

Global Antiquities is designed as an academic engine that helps us to pioneer through the junctures of cultural reflection today. Our network explores the history and social impact of cultural paradigms from a distinctly global perspective. We call for a sustained study of some of the most basic cultural foundations of the world. While aiming at the production of new academic knowledge, our team also seeks to employ the knowledge of past cultures and make the scholarly dialogue between them relevant to the intellectual and moral reflections that accompany the forces of globalization.

Global Antiquities explores the creative potential of juxtaposing the cultural foundations of the Mediterranean World ('the West') and China ('the East'). The research group embarks from the observation that ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese societies were governed by similar features that were also characteristic of other civilized pre-modern societies. In order to provide for a meaningful comparative methodology, we examine three topical clusters that are central to their political culture in a series of workshops: people (2014), places (2017), performances (2020).

From our experience in the classroom we have learned how fascinated students are by cultural legacies other than their own. Global Antiquitiestransforms their, and our, academic curiosity into new intellectual discoveries. It is hoped that the comparative knowledge fostered by our network will also contribute to the generation of a new type of cultural meaning in globalized societies.



Hans Beck and Griet Vankeerberghen

Advisory Board

Anthony Barbieri-Low (UC Santa Barbara), Josiah Ober (Stanford), Kurt Raaflaub (Brown), Lothar von Falkenhausen (UC Los Angeles)

Members at McGill University

Gwen Bennett (East Asian Studies, Anthropology), Darian Totten (Classical Archaeology), Robin Yates (History, East Asian Studies)

Associate Members

David Engels (Université libre de Bruxelles), Luke Habberstad (University of Oregon), Hyun Jin Kim (University of Melbourne), Carlos Noreña (UC Berkeley), Garret Olberding (Oklahoma), Laura Vigo (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts)

PhD Students

Rebecca Robinson: Cult and Calendars in the Ancient Empires of Qin, Han, and Rome (completed)

Wentian Fu: Globalization in the Ancient Roman and Qin-Han Empires (ongoing)

Jordan Christopher: TBD

Workshop Series

In its first cycle of investigation, Global Antiquities aims for a grounded comparison of Greece, Rome, and China through three thematic clusters: People, Places, and Performances. Each of these will be studied in workshops that assemble the leading scholarly voices in the field. Proceedings will be published by a North American press (contract agreement is under way). Workshops are held every three years: People (2014), Places (2017), Performances (2020).

The time period under investigation is from the Late-Warring States through the Eastern Han Period (4th century BCE to the 1st century CE). In the Mediterranean world, we were aiming at an equivalent from the late Archaic period to the early Roman empire (6th century BCE to the 1st century CE).

2017 Workshop: Places

Place and Political Culture in ancient Greece, Rome, and China

October 25-27, McGill University, Thomson House, and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

PDF icon 2017 Workshop Program

The second workshop in the series is dedicated to the cluster of Places. Contributions will be grouped in four thematic rubrics: places of power, including the comparative analysis of palatial centres and monumental expressions of state authority; places of public, everyday interaction, with a discursive analysis of concepts of public and publicity; the ontology of place and the impact of the local; and places of memory.

2014 Workshop: People

Citizens and Commoners in ancient Greece, Rome, and China

October 22-24, McGill University, Thomson House, and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts 

PDF icon 2014 Workshop Program

The first workshop in the series was dedicated to the cluster of People. We explored the following key themes: the people as a citizen body and institution; their participation in political life of the community; the collective identity of people and their conceived ethnic origins; people and gender; elites vs. commoners; the public discourse; the public discourse on the people and rhetoric as well as free speech.

Annual Outreach Lecture

Global Antiquities hosts an annual outreach lecture at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The event is sponsored by the Yan P. Lin Centre for the Study of Freedom and Global Orders in the Ancient and Modern Worlds.


Professor Lynn Meskell, Stanford University

Engineering Internationalism: Colonialism, The Cold War and UNESCO’s Victory in Nubia

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Professor Kimberly Bowes, University of Pennsylvania
The Roman 90%: Poor People in the Roman World
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Professor Anthony Barbieri-Low, University of California Santa Barbara
Imagining the Tomb of the First Emperor of China
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Professor Irad Malkin, Tel Aviv
It's a Small World: Networks in Ancient Greece
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Professor Lothar von Falkenhausen, UCLA
China and the West - before the Silk Routes
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Professor Josiah Ober, Stanford
The Rise, Fall, and Immortality of Ancient Greece
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Research Events

March 2018

Dr. Armin Selbitschka, Munich
Global Players? Revisiting the First Emperor's Acrobat Figurines

January 2018

Prof. Silvia Ferrara, Rome
The Invention of Writing
Co-sponsored with the Department of English

February 2017

Prof. Tamara Chin, Brown
Conceptual History and the Cosmopolitan

November 2016

Prof. Federico De Romanis, Rome
Aspects of ancient globalization: The Impact of Indo-Roman trade
Co-sponsored with the Italian Cultural Institute in Montreal

September 2016

Prof. Peter Fibiger Bang, Copenhagen
Rome: Universal Empire and the Challenge of World History

February 2016

Prof. Carlos Noreña, Berkeley
Provincial Spaces and Layered Monarchies in the Han and Roman Empires
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October 2015

Prof. Kurt Raaflaub, Brown
Globalizing ancient political thought: Early Greece and China

February 2015

Prof. David Engels, Brussels
Parallel Lives? Caesar and Qin Shi Huang Di, Augustus and Han Gaozu


Comparative scholarship on ancient Greece, Rome, and China is a vibrant and swiftly expanding field. To provide orientation to anyone who is interested in a plethora of approaches, Global Antiquities maintains a research bibliography, with primary focus on historical scholarship, from roughly 500 BCE to 500 CE. The goal is not to provide an exhaustive account, but allow students and scholars to ease in the conversation.

To signal additional entries, please email the directors.

PDF icon Bibliography

Last update: February 22, 2017

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