Lecture: "Beyond Vitruvius: Early Roman Imperial Harbor Engineering in the Eastern Mediterranean"

The Salem Society of the Archaeological Institute of America and Willamette University (Salem, Oregon) are pleased to co-sponsor a slide-illustrated lecture:

Who: Dr. Robert L. Hohlfelder Professor of History, University of Colorado (Boulder)

What: "Beyond Vitruvius: Early Roman Imperial Harbor Engineering in the Eastern Mediterranean"

Where: Paulus Lecture Hall (Room 201/Classroom E), Truman Wesley Collins Legal Center, Willamette University (245 Winter Street)

When: Monday, February 25, 2002, 7:30 p.m.

The lecture is free and open to the public as well as to the Willamette University community. Hot coffee, various teas, and delicious cookies will be served.

Dr. Robert L. Hohlfelder received his B.A. (cum laude) in Classics from Bowdoin College in 1960 as well as his M.A. (1962) in Classics and Ph.D. (1966) in Ancient History from Indiana University. Since 1969, he has been teaching in the History Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder, but he has also taught at Southern Illinois University, the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, Towson State University, and Indiana University as well as at the University of Haifa (Center for Maritime Studies) and Anatolia College in Greece (Institute for Hellenic Studies). Dr. Hohlfelder's research focuses on ancient maritime history and marine archaeology, ancient numismatics, and late Roman to early Byzantine history. He is the author or editor of six books, more that 70 articles, and some 60 reviews, notes and/or abstracts. He has presented more than 300 scholarly papers and public lectures and has participated in over 30 archaeological expeditions. His work has been supported by over 40 post-doctoral grants including awards from the National Geographic Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council for Learned Societies, and the American Philosophical Society. Dr. Hohlfelder's fieldwork has been in Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Spain. He was also a co-curator of "King Herod's Dream--Caesarea on the Sea," an exhibit organized under the aegis of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, which toured the U.S. and Canada in 1988-1989.

In Dr. Hohlfelder's lecture, we will learn that no manuals on ancient harbor construction have survived, but Vitruvius's De Architectura (5.12.2-6) offers information on the building of breakwaters in the Augustan era. This handbook, thought to have been published around 23 BCE, presumably contained state-of-the-art technology. Recent archaeological investigations at the submerged harbors of CaesareaMaritima (Israel) and Paphos (Cyprus), two international emporia built or repaired shortly after the publication of Vitruvius' work, suggest that harbor builders were challenged at these sites in ways he had never envisioned. They were forced to move beyond the conventional wisdom offered in De Architectura to find new design features for both these harbors and to experiment with building materials in novel ways to meet the challenges afforded by each site. In particular, at Caesarea, the master builders faced natural and logistical problems that would appear daunting even for today's harbor engineers. At the same time, however, in Kenchreai (Greece), more traditional solutions to problems posed by that site were employed in constructing a new international harbor for Roman Corinth. New building techniques evolved quickly in the Augustan age to meet new engineering requirements, but the old ways were not forgotten and were still employed where applicable or required by local tradition.

For more information, contact Ann M. Nicgorski at or (503) 370-6250.