Chelsea Gardner

Faculty of Arts
Dr. Hector Williams and Dr. Franco De Angelis

Research Topic

Sacred altars in Mainland Greece: A comprehensive survey of form and distribution in the Archaic and Classical periods

Research Description

My doctoral research involves the study of the distribution, development, and function of altars within mainland Greek sanctuaries during the Archaic and Classical periods (c. 8th century-4th century BCE). In ancient Greece, altars were the hallmark of formalized religious space: this definitive structure was the first edifice established within a sacred setting and, accordingly, sanctuaries in Greece often physically developed centrally around the altar itself, looking inward to the heart of sacrificial activity. The importance of this fundamental feature of Greek religion is disproportionately reflected in the current scholarship; there is an incontrovertible need for a new, up-to-date examination of the Greek altar in its religious and archaeological context. My research addresses this lacuna through a compilation of empirical and literary data with the objective of forming a corpus of altars from sanctuaries within mainland Greece and contextualizing said material in its relevant socio-historical, political, economic, architectural and religious circumstances.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

The aim of the compilation of this substantial body of material is straightforward yet essential: I intend to develop an integrated corpus of sacred altars from the Greek mainland in order to supplement current scholarship of Greek sanctuaries with this long-needed research.

What has winning a major award meant to you?

Receiving a major award for my research is indescribable. I am grateful to receive such generous financial support to conduct my graduate studies, and the acknowledgment of my academic achievements in the form of a doctoral scholarship is truly thrilling. I am overjoyed and so proud of the recognition I have received, and this funding will allow me to conduct invaluable field research in Greece that is essential for my doctoral dissertation.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

Becoming a graduate student allowed me to form lasting connections with other graduate students and the faculty and staff in my department - relationships which I value and for which I am grateful, particularly in being new to Vancouver. Also, the city itself and UBC campus are beyond beautiful, with endless opportunities for distractions – but, overall, the best surprise is the extent to which I now appreciate a sunny day!

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

The Classical Archaeology specialization within the PhD in Classics at UBC is the ideal setting to engage in multi-disciplinary research at an advanced level. Moreover, attending UBC allowed me the opportunity to benefit from the direct supervision of two scholars with whose work I am deeply fascinated, Dr. Hector Williams and Dr. Franco De Angelis. Finally, the diversity and welcoming atmosphere of the CNERS department as whole appealed greatly to my interests and academic goals.


Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

Conducting research at the graduate level and participating in archaeological excavation allows me to immerse myself in a field for which I am passionate. The study of the antiquity allows us to better understand our own culture, society, and economy and I can't imagine doing anything else – I'm incredibly fortunate that I have been given the opportunity to contribute to knowledge and to do what I truly love.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Celebrate your achievement, enjoy this stage in your career, and be sure to strike a good balance between work and social life.