Natalie Susmann

Natalie Susmann
College of the Holy Cross · Department of Classics

Doctor of Philosophy

About

7
Publications
2,172
Reads
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10
Citations
Citations since 2016
6 Research Items
10 Citations
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Introduction
I am a Greek landscape archaeologist studying intersections between manmade and natural spaces, with a particular interest in religious architecture, place-making, and spatial memory. I investigate sensory experiences evoked through sacred spaces, and how worshipers harnessed nature through architecture. I use digital technology to model these relationships on the sacred landscape, and am especially interested in questions about open-access, geospatial 3D modeling, and outreach.
Additional affiliations
January 2021 - present
College of the Holy Cross
Position
  • Lecturer
August 2020 - December 2020
Clark University
Position
  • Lecturer
April 2019 - present
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Position
  • Lecturer
Education
September 2013 - May 2019
Boston University
Field of study
  • Classical Landscape Archaeology
September 2011 - May 2013
Brandeis University
Field of study
  • Classical Archaeology
September 2009 - May 2011
Tufts University
Field of study
  • Classical Archaeology

Publications

Publications (7)
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the reciprocal relationship between landscape, human attention, and time. It presents two sacred landscapes: Epidaurus and Nemea, located in the northeastern Greek Peloponnese. In both landscapes, worshipers created sanctuaries on prominent mountains. Eventually, their attention shifted downhill where they built larger, monument...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeologists have long acknowledged the significance of mountains in siting Greek cult. Mountains were where the gods preferred to make contact and there people constructed sanctuaries to inspire intervention. Greece is a land full of mountains, but we lack insight on the ancient Greeks’ view—what visible and topographic characteristics made part...
Thesis
This dissertation presents a systematic study of the relationship between sanctuaries, visualscapes, and the changing cultural valence of landscape in ancient Greek culture. The ancient Greeks situated their deities within the natural word; godly encounters were particularly expected on mountains. Despite significant archaeological and textual data...
Presentation
Full-text available
Digital research tools are ubiquitous for archaeologists, philologists, and historians, yet hands-on, introductory courses geared towards teaching undergraduates how to explore the past through these digital methods are rare. This dichotomy — where we as scholars produce mountains of geospatial scholarship, but few digital applications courses — co...
Article
Ancient writers left detailed accounts about the Roman-period murex-dye market. These descriptions and recipes reveal what Romans preferred by way of ingredients, pigment extraction methods, and mixtures. These accounts also highlight how dyes were marketed and received by consumers. The best quality dyes are described as “true” purple (e.g. Tyrian...
Conference Paper
Few sanctuaries command their landscape as successfully as the Argive Heraion. Yet no detailed study exists to help us understand precisely how the sanctuary’s situation and components interacted visually with the wider territory, and especially vis-à-vis the various settlements within its viewing range. In this paper, I present a series of digital...

Projects

Projects (3)
Project
I am combining archaeological, ethnographic, and historical approaches to explore how individuals differently interpret and react to natural and human-made boundaries on the island of Patmos.
Project
The Saint Mary of Carmen Annual Festival takes place in Nonantum, Massachusetts. This small village in Newton is home to many generations of Italian immigrants (Marrocco 2015; Clemente 2021). The multi-day festival (i.e. festa) hosts secular events like scholarship fundraisers, local outdoor vendors, and a carnival. Italian American festivals like this one are promoted as secular events open to the general public (Cohen 2019). The outdoor vendors, musicians, and carnivals attract diverse crowds. Italian American festivals, however, are also significantly religious (Alano 2004: 150; Ferraiuolo 2009: 273). They honor the neighborhood’s patron, Saint Mary of Carmen by carrying her statue in a religious processional to Our Lady Help of Christians Church. The last night of the festa is also marked with a walking candlelight vigil. Participants walk to the church carrying candles. There, they watch the “angel flying”: a local child is dressed like an angel, put into a climbing harness, and hoisted into a tree (Souza 2019). Using observation, anonymous surveys, as well as historical research about the festival and local community, this study will address the following: 1) How does human movement and/or vision impact the location, extent, and function of the festa’s sacred and secular boundaries? 2) How do festa participants mentally map the event? Do they perceive sacred and secular spaces as separate entities, or do they overlap, and are these opinions shaped as a result of attendees’ religious identity? 3) Do these boundaries shift over the course of the day? The festa week? What about the year? The festa’s geography – being a close-knit community where many inhabitants identify as Italian American Catholics – in combination with its reputation as a secular, family-friendly event – makes the Saint Mary of Carmen Annual Festival an ideal subject for exploring transient sacred space. Through observations about attendees’ movements in the area of the festa and firsthand accounts about the festa’s landscape, this study will address how mobility, vision, and other sensory experiences produce intuitive spatial boundaries. All of this will happen at a pivotal moment in the festa's history, following 2020's canceled event. It goes without saying that Covid-19 has impacted spatial behaviors in group settings. The society’s planning committee is currently developing a safe plan to implement the festival, meaning that there will undoubtedly be changes made to the festival space. More broadly, this study will contribute towards conversations about sacred placemaking and mobility: specifically, the embodied experiences triggering the formation of places, and the various agents contributing towards their maintenance or dissolution.
Project
The Greek Natural Cults Project combines multidisciplinary approaches to understand functional links between ancient Greek religious sites and their natural environments. Currently, the project is focused on the Peloponnesian regions of the Argolid and Messenia, and in 2020, will extend to Crete.