The Canopus, Hadrian's Villa.

Dr. Vivian A. Laughlin's research is honed to the Hellenistic and early Roman periods. These two eras were a time of considerable religious ferment and societal change around the Mediterranean. Two prominent cults at the time, Serapis and Isis, were connected to ancient Egyptian religion that gained pan-Mediterranean popularity. Because these two cults were intricately intertwined within Hellenistic and Roman religions, they provide pathways to examine the continuity and connectivity between ancient Egyptian religion and culture within Hellenistic and Roman religions. The following three projects are planned to be conducted simultaneously: (1) the monograph; (2) expanded research; and (3) digital archaeology:

1. The Monograph
Dr. Laughlin's dissertation-to-book project utilizes Serapis and Isis as catalysts to explore the continuity, connectivity, and influences of ancient Egyptian religion within Hellenistic and Roman religions. Because her monograph explores how ancient Egyptian religion was initially used within the political ploys of the Ptolemaic Dynastic Rulers of Egypt, it provides a trajectory that exhibits how the Ptolemaic Dynasty created a religiously socio-political paradigm for some Roman Emperors to emulate. The scope of her monograph showcases material culture that were used as forms of media, which became dynamic tools within the political propaganda of ancient rulers during both the Hellenistic and Roman periods. 

2. Expanded Research

It is the continued goal to expand this research around the Mediterranean (i.e., Egypt and various regions in North Africa, Jordan, Ancient Judea, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey). This expanded study will use material culture to showcase whether the Serapis and Isis cults were utilized to assimilate, syncretize, isolate, appropriate, expurgate, and/or juxtapose ancient Egyptian religion and culture into various ancient cultures and societies, and comparatively analyze the differences by regions. This expanded research project will become a second monograph volume to help archaeologists and historians better understand the historical archaeology of religious change that the ancient Egyptian religion and culture contributed to cross-culturally around the Mediterranean.

3. Digital Archaeology Projects:

Dr. Laughlin is the Principal Investigator of the following three digital archaeology projects:


The Roman Aqaba Project 2.0: A Legacy of Cultural Heritage
Aqaba was the only coastal city of ancient Jordan. Aqaba was founded by the Nabateans in first century BCE and later ruled by the Romans. Because Aqaba is on the coast of the Red Sea, which is a semi-enclosed inlet of the Indian Ocean, it provided access to various lands, including Egypt. Aqaba, which was originally known for its frankincense, myrrh, and spices, later became known as trading port for many items including glass, ceramics (amphora and fine wares), wine, olive oil, etc. Permissions are granted from Director, Megan A. Perry, Ph.D., East Carolina University, and the Department of Antiquities of the Royal Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 

Sustaining the Cultural Heritage Legacy of Tell Nimrin

Tell Nimrin is an archaeological legacy site in Jordan, north of the Dead Sea. It is a rich site with a vibrant history that some scholars connected to biblical history, the First Jewish-Roman Revolt, Madaba Map, and the Mosaic of Rehob, to name a few. Permissions  are granted from Co-Directors, David W. McCreery, Ph.D., Willamette University; Khair N. Yassine, Ph.D., University of Jordan; and the Department of Antiquities of the Royal Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Serapian and Isian Trails: A Digital Mapping Project

In relation to my forthcoming book, I am developing a digital map that displays Serapian and Isiac material culture around the Mediterranean.