Melissa A. Bailey F'10

Melissa A. Bailey
Postdoctoral Fellow
Northwestern University

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2010
Doctoral Candidate
Stanford University
To Separate the Act From the Thing: Technologies of Value in the Ancient Mediterranean

This project traces the role of measure and number in physical encounters of exchange in the Roman and Late Roman Mediterranean. It examines the determination of value through material practice: The creation of specific kinds of instruments and measuring units and the habits of literacy, numeracy, and craftsmanship through which these were embodied and applied. Through a series of specific case studies, it shows how mundane technologies like coins and measuring units structured the apprehension of reality and gave rise to communal “spaces” of potential conversions in which the principle of physical manipulation itself acquired a special importance. This project also demonstrates how, over time, measuring units were continual sites for communal action and negotiation of imperial power.