Professor Robin Osborne is Professor of Ancient History, Fellow and Senior Tutor at King's College.
Faculty of Classics, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA or King's College, King's Parade, Cambridge CB2 1ST
Tel: 01223 (3)35158 (Faculty)
Other Faculty positions:
Research Officer. Director, Museum of Classical Archaeology
Chairman REF 2014 Sub-Panel 31 (Classics); Chair of Standing Committee, Section H1 of British Academy (2011- )
Current research interests:
1) In collaboration with Professor P.J. Rhodes (Durham) I am producing a set of three volumes to replace the volumes of ‘Greek Historical Inscriptions’ that originated with a publication by E.L. Hicks and G. Hill and were updated by M.N. Tod and then by David Lewis and Russell Meiggs. Peter Rhodes and I produced in 2003 a replacement for Tod’s second volume, covering the fourth century B.C. and we are now producing a volume covering 479–404 B.C., before moving back to treat archaic Greece.
2) 'The Transformation of Athens'. This is concerned with the ways in which the iconography of 'everyday life' scenes on Athenian pots changed between the earliest red-figure of the late sixth century and the middle of the fifth century and the possible implications of those changes for social history.
3) From 2004–2009 I was involved in a Leverhulme Funded project Changing Beliefs of the Human Body directed by John Robb. My work for that project was published 2011 by Cambridge University Press as The History Written on the Classical Greek Body.
Recent graduate research topics supervised:
Iron in Greece to 500 B.C.
Greek settlement in Sicily
Socio-political history of classical Athens
Economy and politics of early Hellenistic Athens
Mythological wars in Greek Art
Violence in archaic and classical Greece
Aspects of cult in classical Greece
Delphic Oracle Stories
Demography and economy of classical Athens
The nature and study of the Greek polis
Hellespont and Propontis
Art and Text
Dark Age Architecture
Athenian Funerary Reliefs
Aristophanes and Sensory Perception
Bronze and Iron Age Anatolia
Italy and Greece in the early iron age
Writing on Athenian pottery
Law and religion in the Greek world
Greeks in the Black Sea
Demos: the discovery of classical Attika (Cambridge University Press 1985)
Classical landscape with figures. The ancient Greek city and its countryside (London, George Philip and New York, Sheridan House, 1987) [ACLS e-book, 2004].
Greece in the making 1200–479b.c. (Routledge, 1996; 2nd edn. 2009) (Spanish translation La formación de Grecia 1200–479B.C. Crítica, Barcelona,1998; Greek translation, Odysseas, Athens 2000).
Archaic and Classical Greek Art (Oxford, 1998).
Greek History Classical Foundations Series (Routledge, 2004).
Athens and Athenian Democracy (Cambridge, 2010).
The History Written on the Classical Greek Body (Cambridge, 2011).
ed. with S.D. Goldhill: Art and text in ancient Greek culture (Cambridge, CUP 1994).
ed. with S.E. Alcock: Placing the gods. Sanctuaries and the sacred landscape of ancient Greece (Oxford, OUP, 1994).
ed. with Simon Hornblower: Ritual, finance, politics: Athenian democratic accounts presented to David Lewis (Oxford, OUP, 1994).
ed. with Simon Goldhill: Performance-culture and Athenian democracy (Cambridge, 1999).
The Athenian Empire (LACTOR 1, 4th edition) (2000).
Classical Greece (Short Oxford History of Europe, vol.1) (Oxford, OUP, 2000) .(Spanish translation La Grecia Clásica, Crítica 2001; Polish translation Grecja Klasyczna Grupa Wydawnicza Bertelsmann Media 2002).
ed. with P.J. Rhodes Greek Historical Inscriptions from the end of the Peloponnesian War to the death of Alexander (Oxford, OUP, 2003).
The Object of Dedication: World Archaeology 36.1 (2004).
Studies in Ancient Greek and Roman Society Past and Present Series (Cambridge University Press, 2004).
The Old Oligarch. Ps.-Xenophon's Constitution of the Athenians, Introduction, translation and commentary (LACTOR 2, 2nd edition) (2004).
(ed. with B. Cunliffe) Mediterranean Urbanization 800–600 B.C. (British Academy/Oxford University Press, 2005).
(ed. with E.M. Atkins) Poverty in the Roman World (CUP, 2006).
(ed. with S.D. Goldhill) Rethinking Revolutions through Classical Greece (CUP, 2006).
(ed. with J.J. Tanner) Art's Agency and Art History (Blackwell, 2007).
(ed. with S. Alcock) Classical Archaeology (Blackwell Studies in Global Archaeology) (Blackwell, 2007).
The Archaeology of Equality: World Archaeology 39.2 (2007).
(ed) Debating the Athenian Cultural Revolution: Art, literature, philosophy and politics 430-380 B.C. (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
The World of Athens 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2008), Responsible for revision.
Tradition: World Archaeology 40.3 (2008).
Journal Articles/ Contributions to books
1983 'Beans mean...' Liverpool Classical Monthly 8.111
1984 'The myth of propaganda and the propaganda of myth', Hephaistos 5–6. 62–70
1985 'Buildings and residence on the land in classical and hellenistic Greece: the contribution of epigraphy', ABSA 80. 119–128
'Law in action in classical Athens', JHS 105. 40–58 [trans. in D. Spatharas and L. Tzallela eds. Peitho: Dekatria Meletemata gia ten archaia retorike (Athens 2003) 258–304]
'The erection and mutilation of the Hermai', PCPS n.s. 31. 47–73
'The land leases of hellenistic Thespiai, a reconsideration', in G. Argoud and P. Roesch edd. La Béotie antique 317–323
1986 'Island towers: the case of Thasos', ABSA 81.166–78
1987 'The viewing and obscuring of the Parthenon frieze', JHS 107. 98–105
1988 'Death revisited; death revised. The death of the artist in archaic and classical Greece', Art History 11. 1–16
'Social and economic implications of the leasing of land and property in Classical and Hellenistic Greece' Chiron 18. 225–270
1989 'A crisis in archaeological history: the seventh century in Attica' ABSA 84.297–322
1990 'The Demos and its divisions in classical Athens' in O. Murray, S.R.F. Price ed. The Greek City (Oxford) 265–293
1991 'Pride and prejudice, sense and subsistence: exchange and society in the Greek city' in J. Rich and A. Wallace-Hadrill edd. City and country in the ancient world (London, Routledge) 119–145, reprinted in Spanish translation in J. Gallego ed. El mundo rural en la Grecia antiqua (Ediciones Akal, Madrid, 2003) 185–209.
'Vexatious litigation in classical Athens: sykophancy and the sykophant' in S.C. Todd, P.A. Cartledge and P.C. Millett edd. Nomos. Essays in Athenian law, politics and society (Cambridge) 83–102
'Whose image and superscription is this?' (Review article on A City of Images) Arion 3rd series 1.2 255–275
'The potential mobility of human populations', Oxford Journal of Archaeology 10 (1991) 231–252
1992 'Les fortifications rurales' in Les fortifications grecques de Mycènes à Alexandre. Dossiers d'archéologie 172 (1992) 42–51
'Land use and settlement in Hellenistic Keos: the epigraphic evidence' in J.F. Cherry, J.L. Davis and E. Mantzourani edd. Landscape archaeology as long-term history. Northern Keos in the Cycladic Islands (Los Angeles) 319–325
'Between farm and paradise: classical Greek gardens' in J. Dixon Hunt ed. Garden History. Methods and Approaches. Dumbarton Oaks Colloquium on the history of landscape architecture XIII 373–91
''Is it a farm?' The definition of agricultural sites and settlements in ancient Greece', in B. Wells ed. Agriculture in ancient Greece. Proceddings of the seventh international symposium at the Swedish Institute at Athens, 16–17 May 1990 (Stockholm, 1992) 21–5
1993 'Competitive festivals and the polis: a context for dramatic festivals at Athens' in A. Sommerstein, S. Halliwell, J. Henderson and B. Zimmermann edd. Tragedy, comedy and the polis (Bari, Levante Editori) 21–38 [reprinted in P.J. Rhodes ed. Athenian Democracy (Edinburgh University Press, 2004) 207–224
'À la grecque' (Review discussion of Burkert's Orientalizing Revolution and Morris's Daidalos) Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 6 (1993) 231–7
'Women and sacrifice in classical Greece' Classical Quarterly 43 (1993) 392–405 [reprinted in R. Buxton Oxford Readings in Greek Religion (Oxford University Press, 2000) 294–313]
1994 'Framing the centaur' in Osborne and Goldhill, Art and Text 52–84.
'Athenian democracy: something to celebrate?' Dialogos 1 (1994) 48–58
'Looking on Greek style. Does the sculpted girl speak to women too?' in I.M. Morris ed. Classical Greece: ancient histories and modern archaeologies (Cambridge) 81–96
'Democracy and Imperialism in the Panathenaic procession: the Parthenon frieze in its context' in W.D.E. Coulson, O. Palagia, T.L. Shear, H.A. Shapiro and F.J. Frost edd. The archaeology of Athens and Attica under the Democracy (Oxford, 1994) 143–50
'Archaeology, the Salaminioi and the politics of sacred space in archaic Attica' in Alcock and Osborne Placing the Gods 143–60
'Ritual, finance, politics: an account of Athenian democracy' in Osborne and Hornblower Ritual, finance, politics 1–21
'The economy and trade' Plates to Cambridge Ancient History V and VI 85–108
1995 'The economics and politics of slavery at Athens' in A. Powell ed. The Greek World (London) 27–43
1996 'Survey and Greek Society' (Review discussion of Jameson et al. A Greek countryside) American Journal of Archaeology 100 (1996) 165–9
'Pots, trade and the archaic Greek economy' Antiquity 70 (1996) 31–44
'Desiring women on Athenian pottery' in N. Kampen ed. Sexuality in ancient art (Cambridge, 1996) 65–80
'Classical landscape revisited' Topoi 6 (1996) 49–64
'Funerary monuments, the democratic citizen and the representation of women' in M.B. Sakellariou ed. Démocratie Athénienne et Culture (Athens, 1996) 229–42 (enlarged version appears in 1997 Past and Present, below)
Entries for OCD3
1997 'The polis and its culture' in C.C.W. Taylor ed. Routledge History of Philosophy Vol.1 (London, 1997) 9–46
'The ecstasy and the tragedy: varieties of religious experience in art, drama and society' in C.B.R. Pelling and C. Sourvinou-Inwood ed. Greek tragedy and the historian (Oxford, 1997) 187–211
'Law and Laws: how do we join up the dots?' in L.G. Mitchell and P.J. Rhodes eds. The development of the polis in archaic Greece (Routledge, 1997) 74–82
'Law, the democratic citizen and the representation of women in classical Athens' Past and Present 155 (1997) 3–33
'Men without clothes: heroic nakedness and Greek art' Gender and History 9.3 (1997) 504–28.
'The Spartan Exception' Caeculus III Debating Dark Ages (1996–7) 19–24
1998 'Early Greek colonisation? The nature of Greek settlement in the West' in N. Fisher and H. van Wees ed. Archaic Greece: New approaches and New Evidence (London, 1998) 251–70
'Inter-personal relations on Athenian pots: putting others in their place' in P. Cartledge, P. Millett and S. von Reden ed. Kosmos. Essays on order, conflict and community in classical Athens (Cambridge) 13–36
'Sculpted men of Athens: masculinity and power in the field of vision' in L. Foxhall and J. Salmon edd. Thinking men. Masculinity and its Self Representation in the Classical Tradition (Routledge) 23–42
1999 'Inscribed Performance' in S. Goldhill and R. Osborne eds. Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy (Cambridge) 341–358
‘Archaeology and the Athenian Empire’, TAPA 129 (1999) 319–332
2000 'An other view: an essay in political history' in Beth Cohen ed. Not the Classical Ideal. Athens and the Construction of the Other in Greek Art (Leiden) 21–42
'The art of personification on red-figure pottery' Apollo July 2000 9–14
'The creation of Classical Greece', 'The fourth century: political and military narrative', 'Epilogue' in R. Osborne ed. Classical Greece. (Short Oxford History of Europe, Vol. 1) (Oxford) 1–22, 197–222, 223–231.
'Religion, Imperial Politics, and the Offering of Freedom to Slaves' in V. Hunter and J. Edmondson edd. Law and social status in Classical Athens (Oxford, 2000) 75–92
'Archaic and Classical Greek Temple Sculpture and the Viewer' in B.A. Sparkes and K. Rutter ed. Word and Image (Edinburgh, 2000) 228–46
2001 'Why did Athenian pots appeal to the Etruscans?' World Archaeology 33.2 277–95
'The use of abuse: Semonides 7' Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 47: 47–64
'Counting the cost. Comments on David K. Pettegrew, 'Chasing the Classical Farmstead', JMA 14 (2001) 212–6
2002 'Archaic Greek History' in I. de Jong and H. van Wees edd. Brill's Companion to Herodotus (Leiden) 497–520
2003 'Changing the discourse' in K. Morgan ed. Popular Tyranny: Sovereignty and its discontents in ancient Greece (University of Texas Press, 2003) 251–72
'Ancient History' in J. Morwood ed. Teaching of Classics (Cambridge University Press, 2003)
2004 'Demography and survey' in S.E. Alcock and J.F. Cherry ed. Side by Side Survey: Comparative Regional Studies in the Mediterranean World (Oxbow, 2004) 163–72
'Greek Archaeology: A survey of Recent Work', American Journal of Archaeology 108 (2004) 87–102
'Hoards, votives, offerings: the archaeology of the dedicated object', World Archaeology 36.1 (2004) 1–10.
'The anatomy of a mobile culture: the Greeks, their pots and their myths in Etruria' in R. Schlesier and U. Zellmann (eds.) Mobility and Travel in the Mediterranean from Antiquity to the Middle Ages (Münster, 2004) 23–36.
'Images of a warrior. On a group of Athenian vases and their public' in C. Marconi ed. Greek Vases, Images and Controversies. Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition (Leiden, Brill, 2004) 41–54
'Configuring the landscape' in F. Kolb ed. Chora und Polis Munich 2004 pp.369–74.
'Homer's Society' in R. Fowler ed. Cambridge Companion to Homer (Cambridge University Press, 2004) 206–19.
'Workshops and the iconography and distribution of Athenian red-figure pottery: a case study' in S. Keay and S. Moser ed. Greek Art in View: Essays in honour of Brian Sparkes (Oxford, 2004) 78–94
'Keith Hopkins' Past and Present 185: 3–7
2005 'Monumentality and Ritual in archaic Greece' in D. Yatromanolakis and P. Roilos ed. Ritual Poetics (Center for Hellenic Studies, 2005) 37–55.
'The Order of Women' in R.L. Hunter ed. Hesiod's Catalogue of Women (Cambridge University Press 2005) 5–24
'Urban sprawl: What is Urbanization and Why does it Matter?' in B. Cunliffe and R. Osborne ed. Mediterranean Urbanization 800–600 B.C. (British Academy/Oxford University Press, 2005) 1–16
2006 'Archaic and Classical Greece', in E. Bispham, T. Harrison and B.A. Sparkes ed. The Edinburgh Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome (Edinburgh, 2006) 92–7.
'Introduction: Roman Poverty in Context' in Atkins and Osborne ed. Poverty in the Roman World 1–20
'Introduction' and 'When was the Athenian democratic revolution' in Goldhill and Osborne Rethinking Revolutions through Ancient Greece 1–9, 10–28.
'W(h)ither orientalization?' in C. Riva and N. Vella ed. Debating Orientalization: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Change in the Ancient Mediterranean. Monographs in Mediterranean Archaeology, volume 10 (Equinox, 2006) 153–8
(with A. Pappas) 'Writing on Archaic Greek Pottery' in Z. Newby and R. Leader-Newby eds. Art and Inscriptions in the Ancient World (Cambridge University Press 2006) 131–55
2007 'Projecting identities in the Greek Symposion' in J. Sofaer Derevenski ed.Material Identities (2007) 31–52
'Sex, agency and history: the case of Athenian painted pottery', in Osborne and Tanner (ed) Art's Agency and Art History (2007) 179–198
'Is archaeology equal to equality?' World Archaeology 39.2 (2007) 143-50
'The Paionians' in E. Irwin and E Greenwood ed. Reading Herodotus (Cambridge UP, 2007)
'Did democracy transform Athenian space?' in N. Fisher, R. Westgate and J. Whitley ed. Building Communities (2007) 195-199
'What travelled with Greek pottery?' Mediterranean Historical Review 22: 85-95
'Archaic Greece' in I. Morris, R. Saller and W. Scheidel ed. Cambridge Economic History of Greece and Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2007) 277-301
'Tracing cultural revolution in classical Athens' in Osborne (ed) Debating the Athenian Cultural Revolution 1-26
2008 'Putting performance into focus', in M. Revermann and P.J. Wilson ed. Performance, Reception, Iconography 395-418
'Introduction: for tradition as an analytical category', World Archaeology 40.3281-94
'Law and religion in classical Athens: the case of the dead' in C.
Langenfeld and I. Schneider ed. Recht und Religion in Europa.
Zeitgenössische Konflikte und historische Perspektiven (Göttingen,
'Idealism, the body and the beard in classical Greek art', in D.
Boric´ and J. Robb ed. Past Bodies: body-centred research in
archaeology (Oxford) 29–36
'Colonial cancer', Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 21.2: 281–4
2009 'What travelled with Greek pottery?' (= paper from MHR 22 (2007)) in I. Malkin, C. Constantakopoulou and K. Panagopoulou ed. Greek and Roman Networks in the Mediterranean (Routledge) 83–93.
'The politics of an epigraphic habit: the case of Thasos' in L.
Mitchell and L. Rubinstein ed. Greek History and Epigraphy: Essays in honour of P.J. Rhodes (Swansea) 103–114.
'Reciprocal Strategies: Imperialism, Barbarism and Trade in Archaic and Classical Olbia' in P.G Bilde and J.H. Petersen ed. Meetings of Cultures between Conflicts and Coexistence. Aarhus 333–46
‘The religious context of ancient political thought’ in R. Balot A
companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought. Oxford.
‘Urban landscape and architecture’ for G. Boys-Stones, B. Graziosi and P. Vasunia ed. The Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies (Oxford) 238–47.
‘The narratology and theology of architectural sculpture, or What you can do with a chariot but can't do with a satyr on a Greek temple’, in P. Schultz and R. von den Hoff ed. Structure, Image, Ornament: Architectural Sculpture in the Greek World (
‘Economic growth and the politics of entitlement’ Cambridge Classical Journal 55: 97–125.
2010 ‘Ibn Khaldûn and classical historiography’, Al-Abhath 57: 81–9
‘The art of signing in ancient
‘Relics and Remains in a world of anthropomorphic gods’ in A. Walsham ed. Relics and Remains, Past & Present Supplement 5 (2010) 56–72.
'Who's Who on the Pronomos Vase’, in O. Taplin and R. Wyles ed. The Pronomos Vase.
'An Eye, and an Ear, for the Dionysiac', in D. Metzler ed. Mazzo di Fiori: Festschrift for Herbert Hoffmann. Wiesbaden. 69-80.
‘Changing Ancient Greek History’ in G. Harlaftis, N. Karapidakis, K. Sbonias, and V. Vaiopoulos The New Ways of History: Developments in Historiography (London, 2010) 35–47.
‘Negotiating citizen roles in Attic funerary sculpture: ideology and event’ in D. Pritchard ed. War and Democracy in Classical Athens (Cambridge, 2010) 245–65
2011 ‘Greek Inscriptions as Historical Writing’, for Oxford History of Historical Writing vol. 1 (ed Andrew Feldherr) 97–121.
‘Was there panegyric in Greek art?’ for Dicere Laudes (Canussio Foundation) 83–99
‘Space and memorialization in the Attic deme’ for S.D. Lambert ed. Sociable Man: Festschrift for Nick Fisher (Swansea and London, 2011) 25–43
2012 ‘Polysemy and its limits in classical vase painting’ in S. Schmidt and A. Stähli ed. Vasenbilder im Kulturtransfer: Zirkulation und Rezeption griechischer Keramik im Mittelmeerraum (Munich, 2012) 177–86.
‘Sophocles and contemporary politics’ in K. Ormand ed. A Companion to Sophocles (Blackwell, 2012) 270–86.
‘Comment’ on A. Carandini ‘Urban landscapes and ethnic identity of early Rome’ in G. Cifani and S. Stoddart ed. Landscape, Ethnicity and Identity in the Archaic Medeterranean Area (Oxford, Oxbow: 2012) 18–20
‘Landscape, ethnicity and the polis’ in G. Cifani and S. Stoddart ed. Landscape, Ethnicity and Identity in the Archaic Medeterranean Area (Oxford, Oxbow: 2012) 24–31
‘Male/Female in the Greek world’ in ThesCRA VIII 5 Polarities in Religious Life: 5a Male/Female (Los Angeles: J Paul Getty, 2012) 247–61.
‘Cultures as languages and languages as cultures’ in A. Mullen and P. James ed. Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds (Cambridge, 2012) 317–34
2013 ‘Cities of the Ancient Mediterranean’ (jointly with Andrew Wallace-Hadrill) for P. Clark ed. Oxford Handbook of Cities (Oxford, 2013) 49–65
‘Democracy and religion in classical Greece’ in Johann Arnason, Kurt Raaflaub and Peter Wagner ed. The Greek polis and the invention of democracy: a politico-cultural transformation and its interpretations (Blackwell, 2013) 274–97
Editorial board membership:
Omnibus (Classical Magazine for VIth formers), Journal of Hellenic Studies, American Journal of Archaeology, Past and Present, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology.