|Hadrian's Villa-Canopus & Serapeum.|
Dr. Vivian A. Laughlin's research and interests explore ancient esoteric and polytheistic religions east and west of the Mediterranean. She is interested in how ancient religions helped shape ancient cultures and societies. She is also interested in the imperial use of agency, specifically with how material culture was used as an ancient form of media.
Dr. Laughlin's dissertation entitled, “The Appropriation of the Hellenistic-Egyptian Cult of Serapis: A Multi-Disciplinary Study Focusing on Augustus, Nero, Hadrian, Their Coinage, and Villas,” is an interpretive analysis exhibiting that Augustus, Nero, and Hadrian, like the Ptolemies, appropriated iconography that stemmed from the Hellenistic-Egyptian Serapis cult. The cultic appropriation resulted in hybrid cultic forms (material culture) that extended to the Emperor's being viewed as divine beings. Her synthetic and analytical methodological approaches coupled with historiography showcases material culture from ancient Roman elite villas that displayed basic-to-complex influences derived from the Hellenistic-Egyptian cult of Serapis. Dr. Sarolta A. Takács served as Dissertation Chair, Mentor, and Advisor with specialized committee members Dr. Theodore Burgh and Dr. Stephen Chappell. This research is currently being revised for book publication.
During her U.S. Fulbright Postdoctoral Research at Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Laughlin expanded her research to trace the steps of Serapis and Isis in the Southern Levant. Her post-doctoral project investigated three aspects of the Serapis and Isis cults: First, the origins and diaspora material cultural evidence of the Hellenistic-Egyptian Serapis and Isis cults. Second, the growth-plates of the Serapis and Isis cults from a Hellenistic to a Roman imperialized Southern Levant. The first and second aspects helped to determine whether the cult was isolated, assimilated, syncretized, appropriated, erased, and/or juxtaposed into ancient culture and society. Thirdly, a comparative analysis on the political usages of the Serapis and Isis cults from the Roman period in the Southern Levant versus Rome. An introduction of this historical archaeological analysis is currently pending journal publication.