Global Antiquities

Ancient history figures from Greece, Rome and China. Image used for the Global Antiquities group - a research network dedicated to the study of Ancient Greece, Rome and China.

Global Antiquities is a founding pillar of the Yan P. Lin Centre 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. 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 explores the history and social impact of cultural paradigms and practices 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 existing understandings of past societies, cultural logics and practices, and make the scholarly dialogue between them relevant to the intellectual and ethical reflections that accompany the forces of globalization.

In its first cycle of investigation, under the directorship of Hans Beck and Griet Vankeerberghen, Global Antiquities focused on juxtaposing the cultural foundations of the Mediterranean World and ancient China via three topical clusters that are central to the political culture of ancient Greece, Rome, and China: people, places, and performances. This research program has already resulted in three workshops (2014: people; 2017: places; 2020: performances), and a co-edited volume Rulers and Ruled in Ancient Greece, Rome, and China (Cambridge University Press in 2021) based on the ‘people’ cluster. Another volume, Place and Performance in Ancient Greece, Rome, and China is in preparation.

Currently, Global Antiquities is broadening the geographical and temporal scope of its investigations. Ancient societies (e.g., Mediterranean, East or South Asian, South American) were often experimenting with similar ideas, political strategies, and relations of power. The investigation of these transhistorical regularities have a legacy of engaging problematic conceptual categories that universalize diverse social and political practices into ideal types. Yet, the similarities between these ancient societies remain as interesting as their differences and warrant fresh analytic attention. In addition, we also explore the complexities of global connections that developed between these ancient societies throughout the first millennia BCE and CE.

From our experience in the classroom we have learned how fascinated students are by cultural legacies other than their own. Global Antiquities transforms 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 new types of engagement and meaning in our globalized societies.




griet.vankeerberghen [at] (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

Hans Beck (Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Arts), 

darian.totten [at] (Darian Totten) (Classical Archaeology),

robin.yates [at] (Robin Yates) (History, East Asian Studies), 

Peter Johansen (Anthropology), 

heidi.wendt [at] (Heidi Wendt) (Religious Studies, History & Classical 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

Wentian Fu (History and Classical Studies)

Briar Bennett-Flammer (History and Classical Studies)

Esther Guillen (History and Classical Studies)

Meghan McGill (Anthropology)

Callan Ross Sheppard (Anthropology) GA

Ruoxuan Wen (History and Classical Studies) GA

Alexis Lemonde-Vachon (History and Classical Studies)

Jean-Félix Caron (History and Classical Studies)


First Workshop Series

Ancient history figures from Greece, Rome and China. Image used for the Global Antiquities group - a research network dedicated to the study of Ancient Greece, Rome and China.

In its first cycle of investigation, Global Antiquities conducted a grounded comparison of Greece, Rome, and China through three thematic clusters: People, Places, and Performances. Each of these were studied in workshops that assembled the leading scholarly voices in the field. Proceedings from the first workshop have been published in a book entitled "Rulers and Ruled in Ancient Greece, Rome, and China"  (Cambridge University Press, 2021) 

Front copy of "Rulers and Ruled in Ancient Greece, Rome and China", depicting historical images of people from that era.

A book containing contributions from the other two workshops is currently in preparation. 

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).

2020 Workshop: Performance

Place and Performance in Ancient Greece, Rome, and China

October 15-16, Online

PDF icon Place and Performance program

The third Global Antiquities concludes the series with the cluster of Performance. The workshop will feature presentations on ancient Greek, Roman, and Chinese performances conducted in places such as tombs, palaces and temples, but also those involving more spaces of production, for instance, agricultural fields or a capital city’s hydrological network. Given the close connection between place and performance, attendees from the 2017 workshop will be invited back for short reflections.

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
View Gallery

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

Reading Group


A reading group meets regularly to translate and discuss transmitted and excavated texts from Early China.  

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