Studying at the Fondation Hardt

The Hardt Foundation for the Study of Classical Antiquity in Vandoeuvres near Geneva is well-known among classicists for their excellent library, annual research conferences organised by world-leading experts in their fields, and the Entretiens collection of volumes covering particular topics about the ancient world. But perhaps even more important is the peaceful and friendly environment that helps researchers to concentrate on their work. Last year, I was awarded The Hardt Foundation Research Scholarship for young researchers and had the opportunity to spend two weeks in the Foundation estate in Vandoeuvres enjoying the fresh mountain air and the beautiful lake Geneva views, and, of course, working hard.


In particular, I was writing a chapter of my thesis on the representations of ritual space in Greek comedy. The final stage of work required a lot of attention and concentration to put all the material together and to provide the analysis with the conceptual framework. In that respect, I benefited a lot from my research stay at the Foundation library. I had a chance to consult all necessary commentaries and editions of Greek authors as well as secondary literature on my subject which proved to be – together with a truly productive lifestyle – particularly fruitful for writing up the piece.

I also prepared for publication a research output related to the topic of space in Greek comedy. This was a paper `Performing sacred landscape: worship and praise of land in Greek drama’ for an Oxbow volume of collected papers. In this article I consider direct addresses to land and landscape in Greek tragedies and comedies in the context of the Greek lyric tradition of cultic hymns. I study the function of these addresses within the dramatic plays and I discuss their role in constructing the identity of the audience through investing spaces with religious meanings.


I found the Hardt Foundation ideal for writing and thinking about my current work. At the same time it was great pleasure to meet other researchers and PhD students from all over Europe, as well as the director of the Foundation, ancient Greek historian and archaeologist Pierre Ducrey, the scientific secretary Gary and the maître dhôtel Heidi who prepared delightful meals that brought everyone together to share and discuss inspiring research ideas.

Elena Chepel

Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill presented with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters at the December graduation ceremony

The Department of Classics at Reading was delighted to welcome back one of its most distinguished former members at our recent graduation ceremony. Alongside several of our own BA and MA graduates, the University of Reading celebrated the disciplines of Classics and Archaeology by conferring an Honorary Degree on Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, OBE, FBA, FSA. Professor Wallace-Hadrill, former Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, is currently Honorary Professor of Roman Studies at the University of Cambridge and is the Director of the Herculaneum Conservation Project.

AWH Honorary

Professor Wallace-Hadrill is very well known to students of Classics, Ancient History and Classical Archaeology because of his seminal books Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (1994) and Rome’s Cultural Revolution (2008). Those who enjoy TV documentaries on the ancient world will have seen him often, including in his programme ‘The Other Pompeii: Life and Death in Herculaneum’

They might, however, not know that Professor Wallace-Hadrill’s contributions to the discipline of Classics are even more wide-ranging and far-reaching, and that he has a special connection with Reading Classics Department.

Wallace-Hadrill was appointed to the Chair in Classics at Reading in 1987. With his arrival, Reading’s Classics Department began to explore new avenues of Classical scholarship and also began to grow steadily in size, transforming itself into the strong department it now is. In 1995 he was appointed as Director of the British School at Rome, the base for British archaeology, ancient history, and fine arts work in Rome and Italy. He held that post until 2009, on secondment from Reading. Under his leadership the BSR underwent a considerable transformation, acquiring new and improved facilities, which made it an enviable centre for research and scholarship. Thanks to his Reading connection, it was possible to develop our unique and still-thriving MA programme, the MA in the City of Rome, which included a two-month study period at the BSR. His legacy here is also visible in our Department’s close links with the BSR and its continued interest in Roman history, archaeology, and architecture.

His understanding that proper conservation for large archaeological sites is a considerable challenge made him a champion in promoting the importance of conservation and regular maintenance, particularly in the case of Pompeii’s less well-known ‘sister’ town, Herculaneum. Here exposure to the elements had led to severe degradation, and The Herculaneum Conservation Project, led by Wallace-Hadrill, sought to arrest and reverse that decline. Generous funding from the Packard Institute for the Humanities and support from the local Soprintendenza Archeologica and the British School at Rome enabled major progress to be made at the site, with new archaeological discoveries emerging alongside the vital preservation work.

The honorary degree presented to him on Friday December 12th is thus a fitting recognition of his contribution to many key areas of our discipline, and to the University of Reading’s long and distinguished history of excellence in Classical research and teaching. The occasion was duly celebrated afterwards at the Acacias Senior Common Room with drinks and lunch hosted by the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor.

Reading ancient schoolroom a great success!

More than 100 local and not-so-local schoolchildren, teachers, and parents came to Reading on November 19th for Experiencing Ancient Education, an event in which research by Reading Classicists on how ancient schools functioned was presented in action by creating a replica ancient schoolroom for a day.

Roman clothes were produced specially for the event by copying the garments on an ancient picture of a school, and all participants dressed in these costumes and learned in a room decorated as a replica of a real ancient schoolroom recently excavated in Egypt.

Windows looking out on the Nile river were contributed by an artist connected to the department, and the walls were painted by enthusiastic students and staff.

Participants practiced reading from a scroll of papyrus written in ancient fashion (i.e. no spaces between the words or other reading aids), writing on wax tablets, copying poetry onto ostraca (pieces of broken pottery), and doing mathematical calculations in Roman numerals.

The event also included a visit from the Classics Kitchen, which served delicious Roman food and sold beautiful recipe booklets as well as providing an opportunity to handle and learn about the different grain crops on which the Roman diet was based.

The Roman Shop, the source of much of the replica equipment used in the event, also had a stand displaying some of their beautiful and amazingly affordable merchandise, and the Ure museum offered participants an opportunity to handle real ancient objects and learn about their history.

For more photographs of the event see

This event was a joint effort from many people, including not only staff members but also some very intelligent, committed, and hard-working students, and the department would like to express its gratitude to them all. In particular we are grateful to:

  • Eleanor Dickey, main organizer
  • Emma Aston, Amy Smith, and Rachel Mairs, head teachers and providers of help with organization
  • Stephen Perrin, David Logue, Alex Heavens, Chris Pritchard, Sarah Wallace, Bethan White, and Rachael Hopley, junior teachers
  • Philomen Probert, mathematics teacher
  • Frances Sturgeon, head of costumes
  • Bethan White, Sarah Wallace, Stephen Perrin, and Chris Pritchard, costumers
  • Daniela Colomo, David Logue, and Rachael Hopley, ostraca washers
  • Chris Pritchard and Jessica Wragg, papyrus sellers
  • Jackie Baines and Katie Maria Mitchell, logistics
  • Sarah Wallace, Emma Aston, Rachel Mairs, Philomen Probert, Daniela Colomo, Cristiano Viglietti, Ulrich Mania, Jessica Wragg, Chris Pritchard, Stephen Perrin, David Logue, Alex Heavens, Rachael Hopley, and Eleanor Dickey, setup and cleanup
  • Cressida Ryan, Katie Maria Mitchell, James Barr, Jayne Holly-Wait, and Rebecca MacRae, publicity
  • Rosemary Aston, creator of the windows
  • Phoebe West, Jessica Wragg, and Eleanor Dickey, costume makers
  • Phoebe West, maker of the pen wipers
  • Jayne Holly-Wait and Rebecca MacRae, bag collection and Ure activities
  • Miriam Bay and Stefanie Metcalf, Classics Kitchen
  • Taery Kim and The Roman Shop, shoes, papyrus, tablets and styluses, pens, baskets, cup
  • Claire Sharp and John Peter Wild, costume consultants
  • The School of Advanced Study, AHRC, and British Academy, sponsors of the Being Human festival of which the schoolroom was a part (
  • Homebase Oxford, source of ostraca

Tramps, Tyrants, and Tenth Birthdays: encounters of the ‘classical reception’ kind

‘Classical reception’ is the study of the afterlife of classical literature and artefacts, in whatever medium. So it can include topics as diverse as theatre and film based on classical myths, political philosophy based on Plato and Aristotle, classicising sculpture of the Renaissance, or classicising architecture of the British empire. In Reading we currently teach reception via modules like ‘Ancient World on Film’ and ‘Transformations of Helen’. This weekend I encountered classical reception in other forms. I am on the advisory panel for the the AHRC-funded project ‘Classics and Class’, which is investigating how working-class readers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries engaged with the Greek and Roman classics, and on Friday I attended a workshop to discuss the latest findings. The principal investigators have trawled through published and unpublished archival sources in order to reconstruct the reading experience of hundreds of ordinary people who were not professional classicists, or even particularly educated, but who made the classics their own out of sheer interest and dedication. Of particular note was Dirty Dick of Aberdaron, a Welsh vagrant who knew several languages including Ancient Greek and Latin, and who hand-wrote numerous dictionaries – which were all stolen from him in the various hostels where he had to stay. The project has an extensive website,, where you can read his story as well as many others.

One member of the workshop, David Movrin from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, brought along a new publication, Classics and Communism: Greek and Latin behind the Iron Curtain (2013) ( This is a fascinating volume which outlines the careers of several mid-twentieth century classicists in former Soviet countries as they negotiated the difficulties of pursuing ‘humanist’ studies under authoritarian rule. The book has 150 pages of reproductions from Soviet archives including photographs, report cards, trial records, and hand-written poems from the labour camp where a classics professor was imprisoned for ‘contra-revolutionary propaganda’. A copy of Oedipus Tyrannus was sent to him, but it was interpreted as a slur on Stalin. These classicists were a very different set of people from the working-class readers, but they too pursued classics under impossibly hostile conditions.

On Monday I attended a less disturbing meeting, of the executive committee of the Classical Reception Studies Network. This Network brings together students and scholars of any discipline who have an interest in classical reception. It is ten years old this year, which is a source of great pride as well as a stimulus to reflection. In the relatively short space of ten years the focus on reception has transformed the field of classics, fostering connections both with other disciplines and with colleagues in other countries. Recent publications in reception include topics like Greek tragedy in prisons, Pompeii in the public imagination, Electra in film, Julius Caesar in American politics, and the Olympics in the modern world ( Very few of these subjects would have been considered part of ‘classics’ ten years ago, but they all enrich our understanding both of the ancient world and of the modern. It was an inspiring weekend.

Barbara Goff

Congratulations to Professor Eleanor Dickey for new accolade!

Less than a month after her election as Fellow of the British Academy, Prof. Eleanor Dickey has received another prestigious honour: she has just been elected as a Fellow of the Academia Europaea.

The Academia Europaea is the European-Union equivalent of the British Academy and the Royal Society, an international learned society composed of leading experts in the physical sciences and technology, biological sciences and medicine, mathematics, the letters and humanities, social and cognitive sciences, economics and the law. It was founded in 1988 and currently has c.3000 members, drawn from across the whole European continent. Only 24 of these are UK Classicists, so Professor Dickey joins a select group.

This honour is wholly independent of the British Academy election, as each election was based on a distinct and lengthy peer-review process. The rare double honour is testimony to Professor Dickey’s standing in the international scholarly community as well as in the UK.


Prof. Eleanor Dickey elected Fellow of the British Academy

Dickey photoThe British Academy today announces the election of Professor Eleanor Dickey (Classics) a specialist in Greek and Latin linguistics, as a Fellow of the British Academy. Several previous members of the Classics Department have been elected FBA after leaving Reading; Professor Dickey is the third Classicist to have been in post in the University as FBA, the second to have been elected while in post, and the first in the Classics Department to have been so elected.

When the Department of Linguistic Science was set up in 1965, the staff consisted mainly of Classicists. The Head of Department, Professor F. R. Palmer, a specialist in Latin linguistics, was elected FBA in 1975. Professor J.N. Adams, now widely regarded as the best living Latinist, was already an FBA when he joined the Reading Classics Department in the late 1990s. Professor Dickey is the first to have been elected FBA while in post in the Classics Department. She is also, together with another  newly-elected Fellow, one of  the only two current Classicist FBAs in post in any UK university outside the Golden  Triangle.

Congratulations to Professor Dickey on her notable achievement. Her colleague, Professor Peter Kruschwitz, a specialist in Latin linguistics, currently holds a British Academy Mid-career Research Fellowship. The study of ancient linguistics is clearly alive and flourishing in Reading!

Jane F. Gardner
Emeritus Professor of Ancient History

Reading students enjoy the opportunity to teach Minimus Latin

In June Alex Keane, Karim Bhaluani and I attended a Minimus training day. For those who don’t know, Minimus is a book that brings the joy of Latin to the primary classroom. Karim and I have been lucky enough to be given the opportunity of teaching Minimus to a lively home schooled group, whereas Alex will be teaching in a local primary school next academic year.

We were delighted to meet Barbara Bell and the team that created Minimus to learn not just how to teach it, but also the story behind it.  It was truly inspirational to see how Barbara Bell, upon visiting the Roman site at Vindolanda, created the entire story around evidence found there. Listening to this creative process was a fantastic way to learn how to engage the pupils when going through the course and some of the thinking processes involved when attempting to reconstruct the past. We were also treated to an example of a very interactive first lesson, with emphasis on inclusion, pronunciation and drama.

The resources of the Minimus course are simply astounding and we found out about some great ideas such as singing ‘Senex MacDonald’ (Old MacDonald had a farm), as I’m sure the Classics Department heard some days ago in the resources room. The whole day was a great experience on how to teach Minimus, Latin and primary school children in general with a whole plethora of old and new teachers sharing their own experiences.”

Rachael Hopley

Ure Move: young curators at the Ure Museum

Ure Move, the latest of a series of projects curated by local secondary school pupils, under the tutelage of University of Reading undergraduates, celebrated its conclusion last Saturday with the Grand Opening of a new exhibition. The event hosted by the Ure Museum and the Department of Classics and funded by Universities UK as part of Universities Week 2014 has been an occasion for giving thanks to all of the participants in the project.

In a series of 18 workshops during the Spring term, both in the Museum and at the local schools — Kendrick, Maiden Erlegh and Addington  — the Ure Museum’s Student Panel engaged with pupils in the curation of the Museum’s collection. The University students have used knowledge and skills gained from their various areas of study (Classics, Archaeology, Business, Fine Art, Psychology, etc.) and a fresh approach to education to inspire the pupils of local schools to innovate in bringing the ancient world to life. The resulting creations — animations, an iPad application and other related artworks — engage visitors with new and original interpretations of the collection. The involvement of the panel in Ure Move has touched every aspect of the project, from the planning to the design of posters, supporting pupils during workshops and making voice recordings for the iPad application.

This is the third yearly project in which students and pupils have worked together in curating the Ure collection. In the first two — Ure View (2011-12) and Ure Discovery (2012-13), funded by Arts Council England as part of the Stories of the World Project, the use of animations to express pupils’ ideas wowed visitors far and wide. The animations, realised by digital artist Steve Simons, are all viewable on

In Ure Move this year the student panel, responding to feedback from the previous years, put more emphasis on the active participation of the pupils not only in the planning of the animations — drawing story-­boards and writing scripts—but also in their realisation, using stop-motion animation technology. Their creations explain in a narrative and immediate way the pupils’ reinterpretations and the digital tablet application gives an interactive experience of curatorship to the visitor.

Continuing collaboration with the iMuse project of a local charity, AACT (, enabled the use of iPads for Ure Move — also positively received by visitors to Ure Discovery as way of bringing visitors inside the collection and allowing them to view the animations alongside the artefacts and related museum information. The expertise and enthusiasm of Annette Haworth, trustee of that charity and visiting fellow of the University of Reading, enabled a focus on accessibility and also involvement of the Addington School, a special needs school, in this project. The Student Panel also encouraged Ure Move pupil participants to use media and techniques of their own choice to creatively express their interpretations of the collection and their involvement in the project. As well as painting and sculpture, they used also videos, voice recordings and photos.

The iPad application and the other art works of the pupils will be displayed in an exhibition in the University of Reading Main Library, from Tuesday 17th June 2014 through the end of August. The Ure Move exhibition will also move (!) to other locations. The Museum has been invited by arts charity JELLY ( to have a pop-up exhibition of Ure Move at Reading Revival, a Reading town centre arts event the first weekend of July. Look for dates and locations of this and other pop-up exhibitions on the Ure Museum website, facebook page and twitter feed. The project Blog gives some insight into the making of the animations.

Guja Bandini

Athens 2014 Study Trip

Going to Athens has been one of the highlights of my time so far at University. The trip combined academia and socialising to create a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable experience.

One of the first things we did was dine in a local taverna in the evening. In doing so we experienced a slice of typical Greek life. The food throughout our brief time in Greece was always of a high quality, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Of course not the entire trip was eating and relaxing, hard study and learning had to be done (as well as a fair amount of walking!).

On day two we went to the Acropolis Museum. Being able to view Ancient Greek sculptures in person, after studying them for years, brought the whole thing to life. I was taken aback by the beauty of the caryatids. Later that day we went up Philopappou Hill, this optional climb was a must to see the incredible views of Athens.

On Wednesday, day 3, the stand out activity was visiting the ancient site of the Acropolis. We got to see the Parthenon and the Erechtheion. The main reason I enjoyed this so much was because of my avid interest in Ancient Greek architecture, but I would challenge anyone not to be amazed by the sheer beauty of the temples here.

The following day we went to Thorikos. By now you may be getting the impression that the trip consisted of a lot of climbing. Whilst it is true that we were active for a lot of our time in Greece the gains from these incredible views far surpassed the exhaustion of the excursion its self. The second hill we visited that day, Sounion, was much smaller. More importantly it is the site of Poseidon’s Temple, as well as having incredible views of the sea. This temple for me was the most aesthetically pleasing, and the fact that it was situated close to ground level was appreciated by my tired legs.

On our final full day in the afternoon we got a hands on session in the museum at the British School of Athens. Mr Robert Pitt, the director, allowed us to handle some of the artefacts in their sublime collection. On our last evening we had a group meal where we reflected on the incredible experiences we had shared throughout this trip.

My thoughts on the final day as we travelled home were positive for my whole time in Athens. I made lots of new friends on my course as well as getting closer to those I already had. Whilst my legs do not miss the walking, I certainly miss Athens!

(Text – Rose Lloyd; Photos – Kelly van Doorn)