Jessica Lamont

Jessica Lamont's picture
Assistant Professor of Classics and (by courtesy) of History; member of the Program in History of Science and Medicine
304 Phelps Hall

[On Leave, Spring 2023]

A social and cultural historian of the ancient Greek world from c.750-300 BCE, Jessica Lamont has been at Yale since 2016 (Ph.D. 2016, Johns Hopkins University; B.A. 2008, The College of William & Mary). Lamont’s research and teaching focus on Greek religion, medicine, and magic. She is interested in how ancient patterns of thought and behavior were sculpted by religion; much of her work is informed by Greek inscriptions, and sheds light on social histories of the broader Classical world, from Sicily to the Aegean Islands to the northern Black Sea.

Her first book, In Blood and Ashes: Curse Tablets and Binding Spells in Ancient Greece (Oxford University Press 2023) provides the first historical study of the development and dissemination of ritualized curse practice, documenting the cultural pressures that drove the use of curse tablets, spells, incantations, and other “magic” rites. The project expands our understanding of daily life in ancient communities, showing how individuals were making sense of the world and coping with conflict, vulnerability, competition, anxiety, desire, and loss — all while conjuring the gods and powers of the Underworld. In reading between traditional histories of Archaic, Classical, and early Hellenistic Greece, the project draws out new voices and new narratives to consider: here are the cooks, tavern keepers, garland weavers, helmsmen, barbers, and other persons who often slip through the cracks of ancient history.

Lamont is currently at work on a second book, Health and Healing in Ancient Greece. The project explores the emergence of medical pluralism — the interwoven professional and cultural systems or “marketplaces” that evolved to manage health and disease — in Greek communities across the ancient Mediterranean.

Lamont also has interests in Greek archaeology and material culture. She has worked for more than a decade as a field archaeologist at sites in Greece and beyond, with a focus on networks of trade and mobility, Greek ceramics, and domestic economies. She is the President of the New Haven chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America, and serves on the Managing Committee of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Recent Articles

  • “Classical and Hellenistic Curse Tablets from the Athenian Agora.” Hesperia 92.2 (2023). Co-authored with J. Curbera, BBAW
  • “Trade, Literacy, and Documentary Histories of the Northern Black Sea.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 143 (2023)
  • “Orality, Written Literacy, and Early Sicilian Curse Tablets.” Greece & Rome 69.1 (2022), 27–51. [Special Issue: Curse Tablets in the Wider Realms of Execrations, Commerce, Law, and Technology]
  • “Cosmogonies of the Bound: Titans, Giants, & Early Greek Binding Spells.” Classical Philology 116.4 (2021), 471-97
  • “Cursing Theophrastos in Paros.” American Journal of Archaeology 125.2 (2021), 207-222
  • “Cold and Worthless: The Role of Lead in Curse Tablets.” TAPA 151.1 (2021), 35-68
  • “Crafting Curses in Classical Athens: A New Cache of Hexametric Katadesmoi.” Classical Antiquity 40.1 (2021), 76-117
  • “The Curious Case of the Cursed Chicken: A New Binding Ritual from the Athenian Agora.” Hesperia 90.1 (2021), 79-113
  • “Beta Samati: Discovery and Excavation of an Aksumite Town.” Co-authored with M. J. Harrower, I. Dumitru, et al., Antiquity 93.372 (2019), 1534-1552
  • “Early Greek Incantations in Late Roman Jerusalem: Kyrilla’s Judicial Curse.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 200.1 (2019), 43-53
  • “A New Commercial Curse Tablet from Classical Athens.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 196.4 (2015), 159-74

Recent Chapters

  • “Curse Writing and the Epigraphic Habit in Athens,” in Inscriptions and the Epigraphic Habit, ed. R. Benefiel and C. Keesling. Brill Studies in Greek and Roman Epigraphy (2023)
  • “The Aksumite Empire of East Africa: From the Red Sea to Byzantium and Beyond.” Africa and Byzantium, ed. A. Achi. Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications. Africa and Byzantium Exhibition: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nov. 2023–Mar. 2024 (2023)
  • “Cursing in Context: Athenian Pyre-Curses,” in Curses in Contexts III: The Greek Curse Tablets of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods, ed. C. Faraone and I. Polinskaya. Papers and Monographs from the Norwegian Institute at Athens (2021), 75-104
  • “Of Curses and Cults: Private and Public Ritual in Classical Xypete,” in Popular Religion and Ritual in Prehistoric and Ancient Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean, ed. Γ. Βαβουρανάκης et al. Oxford: Archaeopress (2018), 125-136. Co-authored with Γ. Μπουντουράκη
  • “Panathenaic Amphorae and Amphorae of Panathenaic-Shape in the Workshop of the Berlin Painter,” Entries, The Berlin Painter & His World, ed. M. Padgett. Yale University Press (2017), 232-5; 353-8
  • “Asklepios in the Piraeus and the Mechanisms of Cult Appropriation,” in Autopsy in Athens: Recent Archaeological Research on Athens and Attica, ed. Margaret M. Miles. Oxford: Oxbow Press (2015), 37-50

Recent Courses

  • Ancient Greek History: 1400-323 BCE
  • Medicine & Disease in Antiquity
  • Directed Studies, Literature: Gilgamesh to Dante
  • Ancient Greek Magic: Spells, Curses, Incantations
  • Ancient Greek IV: Attic Oratory & Litigation- Antiphon, Lysias, Demosthenes
  • The Long Fourth Century: 404-272 BCE (co-taught with J. Manning)
  • Methods & Problems in Greek History: 1400-300 BCE
  • Ancient Greek IV: Greeks & Persians- Herodotus, Xenophon
  • Life & Death in Ancient Athens
  • Ancient Greek Festivals (+on-site Greece trip)
  • Magic, Witchcraft, & Mystery Cults in Classical Antiquity
  • Ancient Greek Medicine