Vivian Laughlin, 2017—2018 Bikai Fellow

Vivian Laughlin at ACOR in June 2017. Photo courtesy of V. Laughlin.

Ms. Vivian A. Laughlin is a Ph. D Candidate in the Institute of Archeology at Andrews University with a concentration in Ancient Near Eastern Archeology and Anthropology.  She is the Bikai fellow at ACOR for 2017-2018.

Her field research, entitled “Serapis in Hisban: A Historical Narrative of Enculturation of an Ancient Jordanian City,” deals with the spread of the Serapis movement throughout the Eastern Mediterranean prior to it moving into Italy. Her field research is a small and separate component of her dissertation research, which is entitled: “The Utilization of Serapis from Roman Elite Houses during 30 B.C. – A.D. 230 in Italy.”

A marble statue of Isis/Persophone holding a sistrum and Serapis/Hades with the dog Cerberus the three headed dog of the under world. This photo came from the temple of the Egyptian deities in Gortyn Crete, now housed in the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion Crete. Photo courtesy of V. Laughlin.

This summer, as part of the Madaba Plains Project, Laughlin hopes to conduct her research on temples in Jordan with the temple at Tall Hisban as her focus. In order to discover the function and influence of Serapis, a multi-disciplinary analytical approach is needed that includes perspectives drawn from archaeology, ethno-archaeology, anthropology, sociology, and religion. This summer her time will be spent conducting background ethnographic research on the temple and comparing it with other similar temples such as the ones in Pella, Amman, and Petra. She will be doing so in preparation for the temple at Tall Hisban excavations which she will be leading next summer (2018).

Through her project, Laughlin is excited to show how the Serapis cult spread from Egypt and Greece through Israel and the Judean lands, then finally became a transplanted cult in Jordan prior to migrating to Italy. A major goal of this study is to demonstrate the extent to which the Hellenistic-Egyptian Serapis cult was part of the Roman Empire’s political hold on the region.

Vivian A. Laughlin received her B.A in Business Management and Psychology from De Paul University (2001), Paralegal Certification from University of Southern Colorado (2001), M.A. in Theology from the Catholic Theological Union (2011) and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the Institute of Archaeology at Andrews University. Laughlin worked as a paralegal for 16 years before continuing her graduate education. She now dedicates her time to ethnographic research and excavations in Australia, Egypt, Greece, Haiti, Jordan, Palestine, Italy (Rome, Sicily, Tivoli), and Turkey. If you’re interested in keeping up with Vivian’s research and work, please feel free to follow her on the social media platform of your choice: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked-In, Academia.

-Written by Tara Matalka, Undergraduate at Columbia University and ACOR Intern summer 2017.



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