Dr. Sickinger has taught at Florida State since 1993. His research explores ancient writing and its uses in the Greek polis. He is the author of Public Records and Archives in Classical Athens (Chapel Hill 1999); and co-editor, with G. Bakewell, of Gestures. Studies in Ancient Literature,History, and Philosophy Presented to A.L. Boegehold (Oxford: Oxbow Books,2003). He also serves as a contributing author and editor to Brill's New Jacoby. From 2002 to 2005 he was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Classical Studies at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

“Ostracism and Ostraka: New Light on an Ancient Practice”

This lecture will explore the ancient Athenian practice of ostracism and how archaeological finds continue to revise and enhance modern understanding of it. The practice of ostracism took its name from the potsherds (“ostraka”) that Athenian citizens used as ballots in a procedure that allowed them, no more than once a year, to vote into temporary exile an individual deemed a threat to civic order. Ancient written sources offer answers to many questions about ostracism, including why the Athenians created it, how voting took place, and whom it targeted. Moreover, the discovery in Athens of thousands of ostraka actually cast as ballots has confirmed some aspects of these accounts. But the texts inscribed on these ostraka have also forced historians to reconsider other features of ostracism, while providing new and often unexpected details about Athenian history, politics, and the degree of literacy in ancient Athenian democracy. This lecture will examine some of these details, focusing especially on finds from the Kerameikos, excavated in the 1960s but only published recently, and on other ostraka unearthed in the Athenian Agora over the last two decades.