Welcome to Joseph L. Rife as new JMA Chair

Expert on Archaeology of the Roman East, Late Antiquity and Early Christianity will give a public lecture in Kiel

Joseeph LRife

This month we welcome classicist, social historian, and archaeologist Joseph L. Rife of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee (USA) as the new Chair of the Johanna Mestorf Academy in Kiel. He will hold the position until the end of December.

The research focus of Prof. Rife is on the structure and ideology of ancient society, especially in Greece and the Near East from the Roman Empire to the Early Byzantine period (first-seventh centuries CE). He explores the ancient burial practice, early Christianity and Late Antique urbanism, food and diet in Greek communities over time, as well as Mediterranean ports as nodes of transitivity in regional networks. “That is why I’m so happy to be here in Kiel now, which is also a port city and seems to be a perfect place to develop new contacts and ideas for my research”, Rife says.

Moreover, he aims to advance a long-planned joint project with ROOTS member Christiane Zimmermann and the Kiel church historian Andreas Müller. "The final result should be a volume on early Christianity in the Roman province of Achaia, concentrating on Corinth and the Peloponnese," Rife reports.

Prof. Rife graduated at the University of Michigan and taught at Cornell University and Macalester College before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2008, where he teaches in the Department of Classical and Mediterranean Studies, with affiliations in Anthropology and Religion. He has held fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C., and has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has received major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, and the International Catacomb Society.

For more than 20 years, he has directed the American excavations at Kenchreai, the eastern port of Corinth, in southern Greece. There he explores the social structure, cultural diversity, ritual behavior, and their landscapes in a small but prosperous provincial port. Since 2017 he has also co-directed excavations at the major ancient and medieval port city of Caesarea in modern-day Israel.

A public lecture with Joseph L. Rife in Kiel is planned for November. The exact date and further details will be announced separately.


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions