University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Polis and Revolution: Responding to Oligarchy in Classical Athens

Dr. Julia L. Shear, Fellow Spotlight


Dr. Julia L. Shear, Fellow, is an archaeologist and historian of ancient Greece. Her particular field of interest is the ancient city of Athens. She is currently an Onassis Visiting Instructor in the Department of History at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. Prior to that appointment, she was a Senior Association Member of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens for four years. In the summer of 2011, her volume, Polis and Revolution: Responding to Oligarchy in Classical Athens, was published by Cambridge University Press. Julia’s book provides an in-depth treatment of the turbulent last years of the fifth century B.C. in Athens, when the democracy of the city was twice overthrown and replaced by oligarchic regimes. Using epigraphical and archaeological evidence, she examines how the Athenians responded to these events at the individual and corporate level. Julia's book was shortlisted for the Runciman Award 2012.

Around the time her book was published, Julia co-organized the Sixth Annual Kolb Senior Scholars Colloquium, which took place on November 4, 2011, at the Penn museum, and delivered a paper there. She chaired a panel entitled “Creating Collective Memory in the Greek City” at the Joint Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America and the American Philological Association in Philadelphia in January 2012. Her contribution to the panel was the paper, “The epitaphios and the Construction of Athenian Collective Memory.” Each of these endeavors relates to Julia’s research involving memory and collective response to the past. Julia's current research focuses on Athenian religion, especially the Panathenaia. She is writing a book about how the festival was a place for constructing Athenian identities and how it affected those identities, work which is directly related to her doctoral dissertation.

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