Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and Environment

Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and Environment

Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and Environment

The ACRC is pleased to announce the establishment of the new research centre: Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and Environment (CACHE)

The new Macquarie Research Centre will build on the research excellence of the successful MQ Ancient Cultures Research Centre (ACRC) (2009-2018). This Centre was based in Ancient History and International Studies, and established successful collaborations with international scholars, especially in the fields of papyrology, Manichean studies and Egyptology. ACRC members also developed partnerships with MQ researchers in the sciences. The Centre builds on those relationships and the international standing of ACRC but seeks to address a new set of research problems.

Focus of the Centre and its research problems

While 'science' in the ancient world encompassed all knowledge - including medicine, biology, the studies of dreams, music and astronomy - since the Enlightenment, academic research has been divided between so-called 'hard' sciences and 'soft' sciences. This division has caused a fragmentation of research on ancient knowledge, and a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of ancient 'science' [or scientia] can only be gained through researchers from across the disciplines working together to study these ancient bodies of knowledge.

By forming new research partnerships within and between the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science and Engineering and their external partners, we seek to address this problem by bridging the traditional gap between the “hard” sciences, on the one hand, identified as science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM), and the humanities and the social sciences (HASS), on the other. CACHE will bring scientists, archaeologists, social scientists and ancient historians into conversation with each other to answer one key question: what can we learn from the ancient past? A related but subsidiary question is: how can we best validate and communicate this knowledge of our cultural heritage to the public? To address these, we will bring in scientific expertise from disciplines including archaeological science, biology, environmental science and geography. The Centre has three themes, with their own research questions that address the need to combine disparate modern research fields for a better understanding of the entirety of ancient knowledge, and its relevance today.

Group 1: Humans in their Ancient Urban and Natural Environments

Group 1 seeks to understand how humans interacted with their environments in the ancient world of ancient Greece and Rome, Egypt, Byzantium, China, and pre-colonial Australia.

Group 2: Ancient Models of Leadership: Learning from the Past

Group 2 seeks to answer the research question: what can ancient models and examples of leadership contribute to questions of leadership and government in the contemporary world?

Group 3: Receptions of Ancient Cultural Heritage 

This group will respond to questions around how we authenticate the artefacts and ancient discourses that are being studied to understand ancient knowledge and practices.

Our Vision for the Centre

CACHE will engender transdisciplinary research into ancient knowledge by gathering leading MQ researchers across several disciplines (archaeological science, ancient history and literature, bioarchaeology, biology, environmental sciences) and departments (Human Sciences, International Studies, Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Ancient History, Geography and Planning). The Centre aspires to create permanent collaborations that will: 1) produce insights that are new to the disciplines and will have long-term effects on research into ancient knowledge, 2) that will demonstrate the value of research in this field that combines HASS and STEM methods, 3) that will develop new researchers who have transdisciplinary approaches, and 4) that will build the foundations for innovative proposals for Category 1 funding. The opportunities provided by the Centre for developing transdisciplinary projects will increase high-quality research output through co-authored publications and attract excellent HDR and ECR scholars, thus improving our capacity for funding success.

What makes the group unique in the field?

This research group brings the largest concentration of leading and emerging researchers from Ancient History – including archaeology, art history, cultural heritage preservation, papyrology, philology and cultural history – into dialogue with leading scientists from biology, environmental sciences, geography and planning, and the social sciences. This will be the only university research centre of its kind in Australia.

National and international profile and standing

With a number of recent strategic appointments, including four ARC Future Fellows, MQ leads Australia in Ancient History and Ancient Archaeology. The Centre’s membership features researchers of international standing, with reputations as research leaders in their field, and their innovative research seeks to bridge the gap between the sciences and humanities: Sheedy (director of the Australian Centre for Numismatic Studies), Neil (Late Antiquity/Byzantine studies), Laurence (archaeology of ancient cities), and Gore (a leading environmental scientist and expert in spectrometry or the measuring of light which can be applied to dating ancient objects). The Centre leadership includes:

A/Prof Ronika POWER (Deputy director)

STEM Superstar, bioarchaeologist and co-leader of Group 1


Roman historian and co-leader of Group 1


archaeologist and expert in cultural heritage and natural environment studies; co-leader of Group 1

A/Prof Malcolm CHOAT (Deputy director)

internationally recognised Copticist and leader of Group 2

Prof Bronwen NEIL (Director)

ARC Future fellow, classical and ecclesiastical Latinist and leader of Group 3

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