One million words. Six volumes. That’s the size of what some scholars are calling “a once-in-a-generation effort.” Classics department chair Christesen and coeditor Paul Cartledge, a former Cambridge University professor, have the Olympian job of editing the Oxford History of the Archaic Greek World (due by 2021). Together they are writing the volume Spartan Origins.
In May, Dartmouth hosts the other authors, 30 scholars from eight nations, a group Christesen calls “a pretty spectacular all-star cast.”
A crucial period in Greek history, the Archaic years (750-480 B.C.) saw the creation of the world’s first democracy and the spread of 900 Greek communities from present-day Spain to Afghanistan. Prepare to be surprised by what Christesen has to say about Spartans. “They almost never fought,” he says. “And they made specific efforts to avoid fighting.”