Revolutions and Classics workshop

‘Revolutions and Classics’, a one-day workshop at University College London, Friday July 22nd 2016.

Researchers in classical reception are increasingly intrigued by the political significances of antiquity for subsequent cultures and societies the field has been energised by the recent publication of Classics and Communism (2013) and Greek and Roman Classics in the British Struggle for Social Reform (2015).

’Revolutions and Classics’ examines the manner in which classical texts and artefacts have been deployed in societies undergoing rapid and radical social change. This one-day workshop aims to foster interdisciplinary discussion of intersections between classics and revolutions; substantial time will also be given to discussion of teaching across classical reception, classics, and politics.

The workshop is hosted by The Classical Reception Studies Network and the Legacy of Greek Political Thought Network, with the support of the Department of Greek and Latin at UCL, and the Department of Classics at the University of Reading. In line with the aims of the Classical Receptions Studies Network, the day is designed to be especially useful for doctoral researchers and early career academics.

Confirmed speakers include Rosa Andújar (UCL), Carol Atack (Warwick), Emma Cole (Bristol), Nicholas Cole (Oxford), Susan Deacy (Roehampton), Benjamin Gray (Edinburgh), Adam Lecznar (Bristol), Jo Paul (Open University), Sanja Petrovic and Rosa Mucignat (Kings College London), and Luke Richardson (University College London).

There is no charge to attend, but registration is required; Interested participants should register via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/revolutions-and-classics-tickets-22796492924

Should you have any questions, please contact the organisers: Barbara Goff, University of Reading (b.e.goff@reading.ac.uk) and Rosa Andújar, UCL (r.andujar@ucl.ac.uk)

The organisers are very grateful to the A. G. Leventis Fund at UCL for their generous support, as well as the UCL Institute for Advanced Studies and CUCD.

IAS leventis foundation

Learning Latin the Ancient Way – Reading research in the Guardian

Learning Latin the Ancient Way, Reading Classics professor Eleanor Dickey’s latest book published this week by Cambridge University Press, has been reviewed in the Guardian. The review can be seen at http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/10/ancient-greek-manuscripts-reveal-life-lessons-from-the-roman-empire The book explores how Greek-speaking students in the Roman empire learned Latin, using the fragments of their Latin textbooks preserved on papyri from Egypt and in medieval manuscripts. In some ways these ancient Latin learners had an experience strikingly similar to that of modern students: they used grammars, dictionaries, and commentaries; they read Cicero’s Catilinarian orations and Virgil’s Aeneid; they memorized vocabulary; they looked up the hard words and wrote translations into their Latin texts.

Prof. Dickey's most recent book: Learning Latin the Ancient Way (Cambridge, 2016)

Prof. Dickey’s most recent book: Learning Latin the Ancient Way (Cambridge, 2016)

But in other ways the ancient Latin learners had a very different experience from that of their modern counterparts. Some of these differences come from the fact that ancient learners came to Latin knowing ancient Greek rather than English. So they struggled to learn the Roman alphabet, but they had no problems with the distinction between nominative and accusative cases. Other differences come from ancient educational conventions: ancient beginners started off with bilingual texts, easy Latin accompanied by a running translation. Of course the students could not translate the Latin for themselves as a modern learner might do, since a translation was provided; instead they memorized the Latin, rather the way a student studying French today might memorize a dialogue about ordering croissants in a café in Paris.

Indeed the texts read by ancient beginners have much more in common with material read by modern French learners than with that read by modern Latin learners. Ancient students studied short dialogues and narratives about daily life: buying clothes, buying food, having lunch, borrowing money, and visiting sick friends. Of course, ancient daily life was not quite like modern daily life, so the dialogues also cover going to the public baths, winning court cases, making excuses, getting into fights, taking oaths in temples, and coming home drunk after a Roman orgy. Just like their modern counterparts, these dialogues were written to teach students about culture as well as language; therefore they offer us priceless insight into life in the Roman empire as Romans saw it.

Learning Latin the Ancient Way provides extracts from all types of ancient Latin-learning texts: bilingual dialogues, alphabets, grammars, dictionaries, annotated copies of Sallust, word-lists to Virgil, prose composition exercises, Aesop’s fables, stories about the Trojan war, letters of congratulation for sending to successful legacy hunters, an explanation of the Roman law on manumission, etc. Portions originally written in Greek have normally been translated into English, but the Latin remains in Latin; this means that modern students can experience and use these texts as their ancient counterparts would have done (or ignore the English and treat the passages like any other translation exercise). A few passages lack word division and punctuation, to make it clear what reading was really like in antiquity.

Professor Dickey hopes that her book will be used by modern Latin teachers and students (it is suitable for learners who have already done at least one year of Latin) and that it will enable modern learners to enjoy the ancient Latin-learning materials, which are now able to be used once more for their original purpose.

Copies can be purchased from Cambridge University Press (to whom Professor Dickey is very grateful for pricing the book at an affordable £18, a sharp contrast to most of her previous books): http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/classical-studies/classical-languages/learning-latin-ancient-way-latin-textbooks-ancient-world?format=PB.

Classics Summer Schools

By Rachael Hopley, Finalist, BA Classics

Being a classics student you are really spoilt for choice when it comes to summer schools. There are opportunities to brush up on your ancient language skills through the various JACT summer schools (Bryanston, Durham and Wells) or others such as at University of Swansea, Kings College London, University College Cork, or if you just fancy a bit of Homer, the Homer summer school at University College London. If you would like to immerse yourself in the classical world, JACT offers a Classical Civilisation and Ancient History summer school at Repton or you could apply to attend the undergraduate summer schools at the British School at either Athens or Rome, spending 2-3 weeks abroad in the hands of experts. I had the privilege of attending the JACT Greek summer school at Bryanston and, thanks to the Department’s Wardman bursary, the British School at Rome undergraduate summer school in the summer of 2015.

Bryanston, as the Greek summer school has become known, is an intense course. There were three hours of lessons a day (and as much work in between!), an afternoon seminar, evening lecture and opportunities to participate in plays and music as well as excursions on days off. It may not seem like a jolly way to spend the holidays but the small class sizes and frequent grammar tests worked wonders for my ancient Greek. Also, I was able to appreciate far more elements of the language, with some of my favourite seminars and lectures being David Raeburn’s readings (in translation and then in Greek) and Philomen Probert’s lecture on the debate of Greek pronunciation. Every year they also put on a production of a comedy (in translation) and tragedy (in Greek). A little shy, I was able to take a non-speaking role in the tragedy, which was a roaring success. As it was in Greek, you got a feel for how musical the performance of ancient plays would have been, with the chorus chanting to the beat of a drum. Bryanston’s comedies are always experimental and you can see how someone can play with ancient productions to pitch them to a modern audience (and see a few cameos played by renowned lecturers, which is always fun).

The British School at Rome undergraduate summer school was an immeasurably enjoyable and rewarding experience. Every day we explored a new theme (leisure and entertainment, death and burial, etc) through the sites and museums of Rome. We had the incredible guides of Robert Coates-Stephens, the Cary fellow at the school, and Ed Bispham, lecturer in Ancient History at Brasenose College, Oxford. In addition, the British School was able to obtain privileged access into sites normally not accessible to the general public. Highlights for me include going inside the Mausoleum of Augustus and into the substructure and top floors of the Colosseum. Having been focused strongly on just literature during my degree, I was able to better understand the use of archaeology in the study of ancient history while still using texts to bring sites to life.

These experiences were invaluable and I am extremely grateful to the Classics Department for the generous Wardman bursary which allowed me to go to the British School at Rome.

Reading Ancient Schoolroom

The Reading Ancient Schoolroom welcomed more than 100 participants to campus on 27th and 28th January. Groups from Farnborough Hill School, Leweston School, St Gabriels School, and Langley Academy, as well as numerous families and individuals, learned how to act like Roman children. Participants also read Homer from papyrus scrolls, wrote with styluses on wax-coated tablets, learned how to do mathematical calculations on an abacus and Roman counting board, wrote with reed pens and ink on ostraca, studied Latin from a textbook used by ancient Greek speakers to learn Latin, learned the Greek alphabet the way a Roman would have learned it, and recited poetry from memory. There were also opportunities to handle objects in the Ure Museum.

Participants ranged in age from 4 to 18, and all reported having a great time. Volunteers, who included numerous first-year undergraduates as well as graduate students and staff, also had terrific fun; this is good as no-one is paid for work on the schoolroom. So we are EXTREMELY grateful to all our hard-working volunteers!

More detail on the event, and more photographs, can be seen at http://readingancientschoolroom.com/2016-schoolroom/Writing 15

Reading Ancient Schoolroom returns on 27th and 28th January

Our wildly popular ‘Experiencing Ancient Education’ event, run last year as part of the Being Human festival, returns this year as a stand-alone event on 27th and 28th January. Staff and students are busy trimming pens and studying poetry in preparation for welcoming several hundred local and not-so-local participants to this historically accurate re-enactment of an ancient classroom. Participants will immerse themselves in antiquity, not only dressing as Romans and using papyri, wax tablets, and ostraca to write on, but also acting like Roman children and doing the type of exercises that they would have done. There are still a few places; if you would like to come, contact E.Dickey@reading.ac.uk.

For more information, see www.readingancientschoolroom.com.

 

Schoolroom in action 3

Research Seminars – Spring Term 2016

We are delighted to invite you to the following research seminars during Spring Term 2016:

Jan 13 Sam Mirelman (ISAW, NY), ‘Mesopotamian Music Theory and Notation Texts’ – NB, this starts at 5pm

Jan 20 Youssri Abdelwahed (Minia), ‘The Illumination of Lamps for Athena/Neith in Sais/Esna in Graeco-Roman Egypt’

Jan 27 Bill Beck (Reading, Penn), ‘Lost in the Middle: Discourse Time and Story Time in the Iliad

Feb 3 Mick Stringer (Reading), ‘Impensae, operae and the pastio uillatica. Investment appraisal in the Roman agricultural treatises’

Feb 10 Classics Meets CeLM

Feb 24 Hella Eckardt (Reading), ‘Writing in practice: metal inkwells, literacy and identities in the Roman world’

Mar 2 Emmanuela Bakkola (Warwick), ‘Where are the Erinyes in Aeschylus’ Oresteia?’

Mar 9 Oriol Olesti (Barcelona), ‘The Land Surveyors experiences in Roman and Byzantine Hispania: new documentation’

Mar 16 Lynette Mitchell (Exeter), ‘Disremembering Cyrus and Tomyris’

All seminars, unless otherwise stated, will be held at 4pm in HumSS G25 on Reading’s Whiteknights Campus.

All Welcome!

Fishing Through Time

Every year the Department of Classics supports students through generous travel awards. Here is a report from our doctoral researcher Lee Graña:

FRWG

This autumn Lisbon was host to the 18th biennial meeting of the Fish Remains Working Group (FRWG), a conference attracting historians, archaeologists and ichthyologists from across the globe, with a common passion for the study of fish and fishing. Following my successful application for the Alan Wardman Travel Award I was able to attend the conference and following field trips to several important sites in the districts of Lisbon and Setubal. The insight into ongoing studies of ancient fisheries, alongside the contacts made, have made this a fruitful and influential experience.

FRWG2

The conference took place at the Lisbon Geographic Society over three days. There were nine diverse sessions promoting a rich interdisciplinary approach to the subject and therefore providing invaluable information on potential theories and approaches. Session Three: ‘Roman Fisheries and Fish Products’, highlighted the ongoing debates on the subject of Roman fish-processing. There continue to be various contrasting interpretations of the literary evidence, concerning the methods of salting fish for dried or sauce products. It seems the archaeological evidence from the Southern Iberian coast continues to be highly influenced by the classical authors and our interpretations of these texts. In addition to this debate, archaeological discoveries throughout Europe are revealing a complex structure of Roman fisheries with diverse approaches to the exploitation of freshwater and marine resources. I had a great opportunity to discuss this evidence further with current researchers and specialists in the field, while receiving invaluable feedback on my research. Several contacts were made with potential case studies for ongoing or future research.

FRWG3

The field trip started at the port of Setubal with a boat journey on a seventy-year-old ‘galleon’, originally used to transport salt. Accompanied by curious dolphins, we followed the Sado estuary to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean and where the coastline is strewn with over two thousand years of manmade structures applied to the exploitation of marine resources. To date, many traditional fishing methods continue to be used, avoiding the influences of modern fisheries (the photograph above was taken at the quays of Carrasqueira, demonstrating the influence of the tidal estuary and the continuity of traditional fisheries).

The following day we visited the site of ‘Alcacér do Sal’ (The Salt Fortress). For close to three thousand years this site has acted as an acropolis overlooking the Sado river and its vast fertile banks where endless fields of rice are now cultivated, but where once salt pans stretched as far as the eye could see. The use of this resource for the production of salted fish products at an industrial scale may have its origins in the Phoenician occupation of southern Iberia, reaching its zenith during the Roman Empire. Alcacer is now a hotel and museum encompassing the medieval nunnery, which subsequently encompasses a 13th century Moorish fortress, in turn built on Roman foundations. However, not all of the Roman sites in the region have such a complex stratigraphy. The following visit was to the Troia Peninsula, where one of the largest Roman fish processing sites has survived, buried under vast sand dunes.

It is believed that fish sauce would have been produced at these workshops by mixing vast amounts of locally sourced fish with the salt being produced at Alcacer. The tanks vary in size, though the largest examples can reach 7 x 4 x 2m with a capacity of over 65m³. Twenty-five workshops (structures with one or more salting vats) have been identified at Troia, though much remains buried. Future excavations may provide more evidence on the capture and processing of local marine resources (the image below is a southern view of Workshop 1 and the FRWG team).

FRWG4

The final trip was to the ‘Merrcado do Livramento’, a local bazar rivaling the largest supermarket in Setubal. One third of the market was dedicated to selling fish, containing hundreds of species from diverse environments. From finger length anchovies to 2m long sword fish, the market provided us with fresh examples of the species identified in the archaeological record, as well as supper for the evening.

FRWG5

Though many countries contain archaeological examples of Roman fisheries, or are the subject of Roman literary texts on local fish consumption, Portugal provides a unique case study of a country which perpetuates the importance of local marine resources, as significant to the local economy and population today as it likely was two thousand years ago. The culture remains immersed and dependent on marine resources, combining ancient tradition with modern advances in a way that promotes the continued exploitation of local supplies, rather than their substitution for cheaper resources in international waters (as is the case in many European countries). It was therefore an ideal setting for the FRWG and an inspirational location for my research.

I would like to thank our host, Sónia Gabriel and the rest of the organizing committee for such an incredible experience and enriching conference. I would also like to thank Professor Annalisa Marzano and the Classics department for their support in making this trip possible.

Research Seminars – Autumn Term 2015

We are delighted to invite you to the following research seminars during Autumn Term 2015:

Oct 7 Anastasia Bakogianni (Open): ‘Electra’s Turn to the Dark Side: Nelson Rodrigues’ Brazilian Refiguration of the Tragic Heroine in Lady of the Drowned (1947)’

Oct 14 William Mack (Birmingham): ‘Vox Populi, Vox Deorum? Re-examining the Attic Document Reliefs’

Oct 21 Elton Barker (Open): ‘Towards a new geography of the ancient world: countercartography, networks and bottomless maps’

Nov 11 NO SEMINAR

Nov 18 Peter Kruschwitz (Reading): ‘Poetica Britannica: Approaching Britain’s Most Ancient Poetry’

Nov 25 Kunbi Olasope (Ibadan): ‘Elegiac Odes: The Burden of Women from Troy to Owu’

Dec 2 Consuelo Ruiz-Montero (Murcia): ‘The Ancient Greek Novel: An Introduction’

All seminars will be held at 4pm in HumSS G25 on Reading’s Whiteknights Campus.

In addition to the above, we would like to give advance notice of the 2015 Ure Lecture:

Oct 28 Ure Lecture: Ineke Sluiter (Leiden): ‘Anchoring Innovation’ (Henley Business School, G15; 5pm)

All Welcome!

Visiting Roma Christiana

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There is no contest: Rome is now by far my favourite city. With its ancient monuments and plethora of excavated ruins, juxtaposed with new buildings, expensive cars and tourists on Segways, Rome is an unique place where one may simultaneously experience both the ‘modern’ and the ‘ancient’; and I am certain that this will draw me back soon (if the gelato, which is, admittedly, reason enough to go back, does not do so first).

In June 2015, thanks to a generous grant from the Classics Dept. Wardman Memorial Fund, I was able to undertake a trip to Rome as a part of my research into the effects of Christianity upon the city during the fourth century. The topic of my MA dissertation is specifically centred upon the extent to which its contemporary residents would have deemed their city to be ‘visually Christian’.

As one can imagine, since I was in the city primarily to study the early Christians, the majority of my time in Rome was spent ‘hot-footing’ around the city to various churches! Although no fourth-century churches now exist as they once did (sadly!), excavations beneath a number of currently-standing churches have uncovered their remains – it was these excavations that I was most interested in. Whilst a somewhat uncomfortable experience – going underground as a city endures 30ºC+ heat alongside sky-high humidity is not something that I would now recommend(!) – my forays were ultimately both enjoyable and fascinating as they allowed me to familiarise myself with and (in some cases) photograph the architecture and art of early Christian places of worship.

Central fresco from the Confessio in the Case Romane beneath SS. Giovanni e Paolo.

Central fresco from the Confessio in the Case Romane beneath SS. Giovanni e Paolo.

Thankfully, not all of my time was spent underground! Rather than spending my entire trip shunning the sunlight, I manage to visit several above-ground sites of significance. One of the most impressive was S. Costanza, which was originally built as a mausoleum. I also managed to visit the Forum Romanum (stopping at a few of Rome’s glorious cafes and restaurants on the way…) and take a look around: doing so certainly gave me a good idea of the appearance of the late-antique city centre.

Going to the Forum also meant that I could visit the fourth-century Basilica Nova, so that I was later able to compare its architectural features with those of the other fourth-century Christian basilicas I had visited. Further, I was also able to photograph the Arch of Constantine and familiarise myself with early fourth-century, non-Christian artwork.

My trip to Rome was ultimately incredibly helpful as it allowed me to learn a great deal about the appearance of the fourth-century city; this experience will doubtless be invaluably helpful with my MA dissertation. I would thus like to extend my gratitude to both Prof. Marzano and the entirety of the Classics faculty at the University of Reading for granting me the opportunity to travel to and conduct my research in Rome.

Christopher Pritchard
– MA (Res.), Classics

Reading’s Latin Inscriptions: New Book by Prof. Peter Kruschwitz

We are delighted to announce the publication of a new book by Prof. Peter Kruschwitz with Reading’s very own Two Rivers Press:

WotWThe book contains an anthology of 48 Latin inscriptions that are on display in Berkshire’s county town of Reading (as well as an extra four that have disappeared some time ago!) – covering some 1,800 years of Latin in use as a language of authority, of the church, of business, of learning, and – of course – as a language to honour the dead.

The book, showcasing the very finest examples of a body of some 200 inscribed Latin texts altogether from the Reading area, is the result of several years of fieldwork (about which Prof. Kruschwitz has occasionally blogged on his blog ‘The Petrified Muse’) – and if you wish to follow his walking routes, there is even a handy map that shows you the location of the various pieces that are covered in the book on Google Maps!

The book, beautifully designed and illustrated, is available from the publisher, Inpress Books, Waterstones, and – soon –  Amazon.

For anyone in and around Reading: Prof. Kruschwitz will be signing copies of his book at Reading’s branch of Waterstones next Saturday (12 September, 3-4pm) as part of Reading’s activities during the 2015 Heritage Open Days (further information can be found here).