On 16 October 2023, the Ure Museum was delighted to welcome Prof. Véronique Dasen from University of Fribourg to deliver the James E. Gordon Lecture. Professor Véronique Dasen is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Fribourg, Honorary Professor at the University of Lille, and Vice-President of the Conseil Scientifique Institut National d‘Histoire de l’Art, Paris. Her multidisciplinary research, which takes an anthropological perspective, concerns ancient iconography and material culture as it relates to the history of the body, medicine and of magical practices, gender studies, history of childhood and play as metaphor.
In her lecture, Play or cheat? Games in Greek and Roman antiquity, Prof. Dasen introduced and explained fascinating discoveries from her Locus Ludi project, funded by the European Research Council, 2017-22. Her lecture culminated with the launch of an exciting new video on ‘loaded’ Roman dice currently undergoing scientific analyses.
The annual Gordon lecture honours the memory of Professor James Edward Gordon (1913–1998), his interdisciplinary spirit and enthusiasm for the relevance of science to our understanding of the ancient world. Prof Gordon was a pioneering materials scientist and biomechanical engineer who served as Professor of Materials Engineering at University of Reading, where he collaborated, especially with the late Dr John Landels, on engineering in antiquity. Together with Landels he established a joint degree in Classics and Engineering.
This year’s Gordon Lecture coincided with a special viewing of the Ure Museum’s temporary exhibit, Locus Ludi. Anyone can play! — with loans from the British Museum, Colchester Museum, Museum of Reading, and University of Reading collections — on display until the end of November. In the Ure Museum, visitors also had a chance to play a full-size reconstruction of The Doctor’s Game made by Giles Cattermole, a local engineer and craftsman.
Members of the public are also encouraged to join us for another games-related lecture — More than just fun and games: Why study board games in Roman society? — to be delivered by Dr Tim Penn (currently at University of Oxford), on 22 November at 18:00 in Edith Morley G44. Please cntact firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.