Ancient Egypt and New Technology: The Present and Future of Computer Visualization, Virtual Reality and Other Digital Humanities in Egyptology, Indiana University, Bloomington, 29-30 March, 2019

(Posted on behalf of Dr Hana Navratilova, Research Associate at Reading Classics.)

Moviegoers and gamers have been used to stunning visualisations of an ancient Egyptian landscape already for some time. And some of these visualisations have been based on a surprising amount of archaeological and historical data, such as in the popular Assassin’s Creed Origins. However, even apart from impressive educational potential, there is much that digital humanities can offer. The meeting ‘Ancient Egypt and New Technology’ held at the Indiana University’s Bloomington campus and organised by Dr Steve Vinson, aimed at harnessing the possibilities of digital technology to help and enhance research work in the humanities, particularly in Egyptology, alongside an instructive and impactful outreach.

The meeting constituted of two intense days of talks and discussions. We have revisited digital dictionaries as well as 3D and virtual reality reconstructions, which Reading readers will be familiar with from University of Reading’s very own Virtual Rome.  Diverse models of digital research infrastructures were compared – from relational databases to large collections with potential use of the AI to support interactive resources search in large datasets – such as a planned complete list of Egyptian artefacts in the museums and collections across the world.

As in medical sciences, Egyptology too could benefit from digital technology bringing quantity of data to our fingertips – in a hope that this would promote a high quality research. As Mark Depauw of the Trismegistos project noted, Egyptology has been rather good at producing diverse ‘silos’ of knowledge. It will help to promote a richer knowledge-making, if we can connect these ‘silos’.

Immersive VR experiences attracted attention, but there was a good level of critical assessment of respective pros and cons of various approaches. The discussions were productive and touched upon issues of sustainability, long-term archiving, accessibility and linking of the various silos of data that Egyptology and other humanities are generating. A call for transparency was made, as well as for an ethical approach to acknowledging not only the origin of data but also the process of selection and interpretation, as noted by Willeke Wendrich. Generally, there was a balanced appreciation of new technologies as useful tools, but without naïve enchantment. Visualisations of the ancient world, repositioning of artefacts in their space and time, modelling of related artefacts spread across the world and integration of archival legacy with recent results will benefit scholarship, education and popularisation.

Publishing news from Reading Classics students!

We have recently learned of wonderful publishing successes by one of our recent alumni, and by a current doctoral student.

Charles Stewart, who completed his BA in Ancient History in summer 2018, has had an article accepted by the Journal of Roman Studies.  The article is based on part of his undergraduate dissertation, which won one of the Department’s prizes for the best dissertation in 2017-18.  Entitled ‘Fractional arithmetic in the Tabula Alimentaria of Veleia’, the article posits a new way of understanding practical arithmetic was conducted in the Roman world of the second century AD, and in so doing resolves an apparent anomaly that has long plagued scholarly reconstructions of Trajanic alimentary schemes.  It will come out in the next issue of JRS, published in the autumn.  Charles is now a Research Associate of the Department, and is considering postgraduate study.

Rosie Mack is writing her PhD thesis on the depiction of horses on ancient Thessalian coins, under the supervision of Drs. Emma Aston and Rachel Mairs.  Her article, ‘Numismatic evidence (or not) for the aphippodroma horse race at Larisa’, has been accepted for publication in the numismatics journal Koinon.  Like Charles’, it takes on a long-standing misunderstanding of ancient material, in this case a series of Larisaian coins which have traditionally been taken as evidence for a certain equestrian contest at a Thessalian festival.  Rosie shows that, in fact, the coins depict an aspect of horse-training and so shed light on practical horsemanship in northern Greece as well as on the numismatic strategies of the polis of Larisa.

We are delighted by these publishing successes of our students: many congratulations to both Charles and Rosie!   

Charles Stewart (and Auguste Rodin!)


Rosie Mack at Delphi

Classics Department International Reading of Homer’s Iliad – By Bunny Waring (MA City of Rome)

On Friday 22nd March 2019 the Classics Department led the University of Reading’s participation in the European Festival of Latin and Greek.  This global event encourages academic communities to introduce and seduce public audiences with passage readings of ancient literary works. This year’s choice was Homer’s Iliad, an ancient Greek tale spanning many books of legendary battles, bravery and beloveds. After much thought, it was decided that Book Six would be suitably enticing and informative. In this Book Homer describes the honour and bereavement of war, detailing the pride of the soldier Hector and the grief of his wife. Book 6 provides detailed scenes of war, brotherhood and an importantly detailed portrayal of the ancient custom of guest-friendship. Book 6 also provides dialogues between lower ranking soldiers, such as the friends Glaucus and Sarpedon. These Trojan allies give short conversational speeches to each other through which Homer highlights the complexities of military relationships, the compelling nature of heroism, and the grim reality of war. As the battle commences, low ranked soldiers are killed by higher ranking soldiers, who in turn are killed by the leading characters Hector and Achilles. The narrative provided by this wide range of characters, emotive circumstances and moral conflicts produces the epic battle, which is still remembered through Homer’s work in the present day.

At 1pm, with Book 6 in hand, professors, undergraduates, postgraduates, curators and volunteers from the University and the town marched into the open air quad and surrounded on three sides by the Edith Morley building, they gathered on the green stage of this temporary theatre. PhD Researcher James Lloyd opened the event with a musical rendition of an ancient Greek song, thought to have been used thousands of years ago to begin such recitals. Subsequently, Head of Department Dr Emma Aston read, in ancient Greek, lines 1-11 recalling a fierce battle the led against the Trojans by Ajax. Each passage was then narrated by attendees who described the torment of Hector, Andromache and Paris in English, Italian, Chinese and German. The event was uplifting for all those taking part, with many onlookers stopping to observe. James Lloyd of Classics said: “the event was well attended and enjoyed by all. It was particularly good to hear the variety of different languages spoken during the reading, which is testimony to the thriving international community present in the Department of Classics”.

The reading of Homer’s Iliad was a success and a credit to those who organised it. The event was short, precise and rekindled a passion for the storytellers of old whilst introducing the works to those unfamiliar with the tales. If you missed the event, fear not. The video of the recital is on YouTube and can be viewed here.

Photo credits: James Lloyd, Amy Smith & Bunny Waring.


LGBT history in Berkshire: the project continues

Over the summer in 2018, two Reading students, George Stokes and Amy Hitchings, worked with  Katherine Harloe of the Classics Department, in collaboration with the Berkshire Record Office and the County Archivist Mark Stevens, on a UROP project entitled ‘Offences against the person: tracing hidden LGB histories through the Berkshire County Archives’.  This project continues to produce fascinating results, and readers of our blog may be interested in the attached issue of the Berkshire Echo devoted to a write-up of George’s and Amy’s work to date: Berkshire Echo January 2019.

Keeping it in the Family? Exploring familial tension and rupture in the ancient & early-medieval Mediterranean. CALL FOR POSTERS

Call for attendees and poster presenters

We are delighted to announce the programme and our call for attendees and poster presenters at the PG & ECR conference ‘Keeping it in the Family: Exploring familial tension and rupture in the ancient and early-medieval Mediterranean’ at the University of Reading on 24-5/4/19.

This event and the lack of registration fee is made possible by the generous support of the Past & Present Society and Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies in providing accommodation and travel bursaries to speakers, and the Department of Classics at the University of Reading.


We invite posters that respond to our central question, or to the themes that emerge from our papers as listed below. Those working on chronological periods or regions outside our initial remit are especially welcomed to invite comparative discussion, as are those who are unable to attend the entire event.


A limited number of places for attendees are available for postgraduates and early-career researchers working in all related disciplines.

Needs-based Bursaries

Thanks to the generosity of the Classical Association, we have 7 travel bursaries of maximum £60 to support attendees or poster presenters.

Attendees or poster presenters who wish to apply for a travel bursary should write to us at by 02/4/19 with a response to the following criteria:

  1. a) Their current funding status (i.e. funded/unfunded doctoral position, post-doc, sessional lecturer, teaching fellow etc.)
  2. b) Alternative sources of conference funding to which they have applied, or indication of why they are ineligible.
  3. c) If they have any extenuating circumstances that make conference attendance more expensive.

Decisions will be given by 4/04/19.


Poster presenters who do not wish to apply for a travel bursary can register by email on a first-come-first served basis until 19/4/19 listing their name, affiliation and potential title.

Attendees who do not wish to apply for a travel bursary can register by email on a first-come-first served basis until 22/04/2019 listing their name and affiliation.


Becca Grose, Doukissa Kamini & Rebecca Rusk (organising committee) 


Keeping it in the Family? Exploring familial tension and rupture in the ancient & early-medieval Mediterranean (PG and ECR Conference)

24-25th April 2019, University of Reading – London Road Campus

Conference Programme

Day 1 (Wednesday 24th April)

10.00-11.00: Registration

11.00-12.30: First session

Taboos within the Family Structure (chair: Andreas Gavrielatos)
Olive, Peter (Royal Holloway University of London): Re-centring debate about the Danaïds’ plea in Aeschylus’ Supplices.

Watson, Joe (Durham University): Inscribing Incest: Byblis’ Love Letter to Caunus and Ovid’s Fear of Taboo in Metamorphoses 9

Kirsch, Stephanie (University of Bonn): Taboo to topic? – Small scale violence against children and disciplina in the Roman family from the 2nd century BCE till 2nd century CE.

12.30-13.20: Lunch break

13.20-15.10: First keynote speech & response

Kate Cooper (RHUL): When Fathers Fail: Gender, cultural change and family dynamics in late antiquity
Response: Christa Gray (Reading)

(including 14.20-14.40 coffee & cake pause)

15.20-16.50: Second session

Interfamilial Conflict, Succession and Inheritance (chair: Rebecca Rusk)

Paprocki, Maciej (Universität München): Apollo, Kronos’ avenger? Divine intergenerational conflicts in light of ‘Kronos’ curse’.

Martorana, Simona (Durham University): Telemachus, Penelope’s puer: (de-) legitimation, precarious masculinity and familial liminality in Ovid’s Heroides 1.

Shields, Katharine (University College of London): “Do not kill anyone of [your] family, it is not good.” Succession, inheritance, and legal language in the Proclamation of Telipinu.

16.50-17.15: Coffee Break

17.15-19.05: Second keynote speech & response

Edith Hall (KCL): Are house slaves family? Seeking Illumination from Artemidorus’ Interpretation of Dreams

Response: Emma Aston (Reading)

(including 18.15-18.35 wine & nibbles pause)

19.05-20.00 Continued wine reception and poster session.

20.00: Dinner

Day 2 (Thursday 25th April)

09.00-10.30: Third session

Family on the Edge: Perceptions and Pressure of Family Image (chair: tbd.)

Kostecka, Katarzyna (University of Warsaw): Dealing with family failure – unsuccessful kin in the Epinician Odes of Pindar.

Sandon, Tatjana (University of Edinburgh): Concubina mea amantissima. The role of concubinae in Roman family and society in light of the epigraphic evidence. 

Morassi, Davide (University of Oxford): Tough love: fatherhood as a metaphor for political and military leadership.

10.30-11.00: Coffee Break

11.00-12.30: Fourth session

Wives and Mothers: Expectations and Challenges (chair: tbd.)

Golay, Charlotte (University of Lausanne): Reproductive expectations:  Fear and tension around the production of children within the Hellenistic couple.

Thoma, Marianna (University of Athens): Women and intergenerational conflict in Greco-Roman family: “If she spends another month with me like this, I will throw myself into the sea.” 1 (P.Petaus 29,8-10).

Patzelt, Maik (University of Sheffield): The aftermath of familial rupture: constructing and contesting the widow’s identity in late antiquity.
12.30-13.30: Lunch Break

13.30-15.00: Fifth session (chair: tbd.)
(Re-)Constructing Families

Clarke, Anactoria (King’s College London): Mantic lineage: Constructing hereditary transmission of prophetic skills.

De Luca, Gaia (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris; Università Orientale, Naples): Conflicting citizenship within the family: a Rhodian example.

15.00-16.30: Roundtable Chair: Barbara Goff (Reading)

Title: tbd.


Kindly supported by the Past & Present Society, the Classical Association, the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies and the University of Reading Classics Department


A tribute to Greek poet tribute to Titos Patrikios

A very moving tribute to Titos Patrikios, one of the greatest living Greek poets, was organized by the Greek library of London, the Hellenic Hub and the Poetry Office at the Hellenic Centre in London on the occasion of his 90th birthday. A full house of well above two hundred people, Greek and British, enjoyed a great evening forworded by the emeritus Korais professor Roderick Beaton and his former colleague Professor David Ricks, both distinguished Hellenists from King’s College London. A very rare audiovisual show of Patrikios’ early years was also projected. There were of course readings of Patrikios’ poems from different periods of all his long prolific lifetime, beautifully enacted by former ambassador of Great Britain in Greece Jonn Kittmer, our own Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps, Modern Greek fellow and actress, and Greek actor author Konstantinos Alsinos. All the readings were interspersed with beautiful original piano compositions by the Italian pianist Anthimo. Finally, the Poetry Office’s head and author, Mr Skiathas, conducted a lively interview of the poet himself followed by an extremely stimulating live audience interaction with the poet. 










Dr Tzanidaki-Kreps performing the work of Titos Patrikios













Claiming the Classical – link

Readers may be interested in the latest CUCD Bulletin, which contains a jointly prepared piece to which our own Barbara Goff contributed: you can find the piece here.  The article considers the continued appropriation, and misappropriation, of Classical themes in political discourse, which is one of Barbara’s research specialisms.

Women and Classics at University College Reading

(By Dr Amara Thornton, Ure Museum Research Officer)

It’s Women’s History Month in the UK, so it seems the right time to draw attention to one of the best overview resources for late 19th and early 20th century women’s history I know: The Englishwoman’s Yearbook and Directory.  The EWYB (for short) was a reference manual outlining educational and employment opportunities open to women. Also known as the “Woman’s Whitaker” (after the well-known annual Whitaker’s Almanack), it was published annually by Adam & Charles Black between the early 1880s and 1916.

The EWYB offered women who spent 2s 6d on a copy (or borrowed one) an overview of their prospects for improving their situation in life.  The volumes began with sections on education and list the universities and university colleges offering classes that were open to women, along with information on fees, courses, staff, and accommodation.  One of these institutions was University College Reading. 


Englishwoman’s Year-Book. Photo: Amara Thornton


University of Reading came out of the University Extension Movement, a new route for extra-university adult education in the late 19th century.  The first University Extension lectures in Reading, a series on the Napoleonic Wars, were delivered in 1885.  A newspaper report at the time noted that the series attracted nearly 80 women and “a few gentlemen”.

Moving forward to 1892, the extension lectures begun at Reading the previous decade had evolved into “The University Extension College at Reading” as it was listed in the “Universities” section of the Englishwoman’s Year Book.  From 1902 it was University College Reading, and offered women the opportunity to take degree examinations with the University of London.

Although classics was taught at University College Reading before 1911, in that year a Chair in Classics was established and Percy Ure was appointed the first Professor.  And women came to Reading to give formal lectures: in January 1911 archaeologist Evelyn Radford lectured to the Classics department on the sites of ancient Greek games. 

Over the next decade the number of women reported as working in the Classics Department increased.  

Annie Dunman Hunt, who had studied classics at Reading and obtained with a 2nd class honours degree in 1914, returned to the College in 1916 on a scholarship. Her postgraduate project focused on ancient Greek sites in Ukraine (then called “South Russia”), so she spent her time reading reports from the Russian Archaeological Commission – in Russian.


Fig: Annie Hunt, c. 1914.  Annie was a member of
University College Reading
women’s rowing team.
Photo: Courtesy of Bonnie Ure.


Other women students working on Classics-based projects were recorded too.  The College had for several years been amassing a collection of antiquities.  Two different collections of Roman coins – one from Stanford-in-the-Vale and one from Abingdon – were acquired during the war.  Two women, Ethel Scruton and Eileen Craig McGlinchy, were responsible for the initial collection catalogues.

By autumn of 1917, conscription continued to strip the College of available men lecturers.  The Classics Department’s Research Fellow in Roman Archaeology, Donald Atkinson, was called up.  To replace him, two women were hired: Annie Hunt and Katherine McCutcheon, who had been lecturing in Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, one of Oxford’s women’s colleges.

As war drew to a close in 1918, Atkinson resigned to take up a position at the University of Manchester. His post was filled by two classicists – Eric Robertson Dodds and Margaret Leigh, who had completed her studies at Somerville College, Oxford.  Margaret Leigh was Dorothy Leigh Sayers‘ first cousin, just one year younger than Sayers. They were at Somerville at the same time, and they both contributed to a volume of poetry (co-edited by Sayers) Oxford Poetry, 1918. Leigh’s poem “The Journalist”, a searing criticism of the press’s wartime role, was praised in a 1919 issue of The Bookman. (The reviewer was none other than poet and critic Arthur Waugh, father of Evelyn.)

That year, Leigh achieved what she called her “heart’s desire” – the lectureship at Reading.  Writing about her experience at Reading in later life as a Carmelite nun she describes it as a time when she pushed religion temporarily out of her life. Details on her life at Reading are minimal in her autobiography, but her description of Percy Ure is a sympathetic one: “He was considerate and full of humour, and knew how to give us the benefit of his knowledge and experience without interfering with the details of our work.” A few years into her lectureship, University College Reading’s Annual Report noted that she was granted research leave “to prosecute her studies on the early relations between Brittany and the Celtic communities of the British Isles”.

In the early 1920s, another post-graduate student came to the Classics department: Elsie Calam.  Her special studies in Romano-British archaeology were funded by the Town of Huddersfield; she had been a student at Huddersfield Technical College during the war.

Beyond Annie Hunt (later Annie Ure), who achieved considerable success as an archaeologist and curator, very little information has been published on the experiences of most of these early Reading women. You might notice that more men in this post have weblinks than the women mentioned.*  But there is more to find in the archives – this is only the beginning.


*Special thanks to the women involved in #WCCWiki for helping me identify first names for some of the women listed here!


References/Further Reading

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette. 1909. The Englishwoman’s Year Book. [British Newspaper Archive], 23 Dec.

Berkshire Chronicle. 1885. Oxford Extension Lectures. [British Newspaper Archive] 27 June.

Leigh, M. 1952. The Fruit in the Seed. London: Phoenix House.

Waugh, A. 1919. Modernity and Consolation. The Bookman. [British Periodicals] February.

University College Reading Annual Reports.

Did you miss the MOISA 2018 concert?

The videos of the stunning musical performances from the concert held during the 2018 MOISA conference (organised at the University of Reading by James Lloyd, Ian Rutherford and Donatella Restani) are now available on the Department of Classics’ YouTube channel.  They represent the latest research into ancient musical performance and how Greek songs would have sounded.  Here are the links.

Various pieces

Delphic paean

Your Department Needs You! … to read Homer’s Iliad

Next month (Friday 22nd March) the Department will take part in an international festival of Latin and Greek.  Students, staff and other colleagues will join people across the world in reading a book of the Iliad out loud in a public place.  This way, we shall be experiencing the Iliad in the ways that ancient Greeks might have done, and we shall be sharing our love of classical poetry and culture with random passersby!

Here is a link to the Festival homepage, and to a map of all the reading locations.




Why would I want to do this?  Because it will be fun!  Get together with classmates and lecturers, bring a translation, spend a relaxing lunchtime amazing the passersby.  It will be near the end of term, so you will need a distraction from all those deadlines…

My Ancient Greek is not up to much…  Not to worry!  The whole idea is to read in a variety of languages.  Across the world, people are reading in Ancient Greek, but also in English, French, German, Afrikaans, Portuguese, Mandarin…you get the picture.

I’m shy!  We all are, but there is strength in numbers, and as the Greeks say, we learn through suffering – you never know, you might enjoy it.

But the Iliad is boring…. Bits of it might be, but we are going to read Book 6, where, a) Sarpedon and Glaucus debate heroism, and decide that the generations of men are like the leaves that fall, so why not leave a heroic legend behind, and b) Hector takes a poignant farewell of Andromache and their son Astyanax.  Bring a hankie!


OK I’m convinced.  What do I do next?  Good!  Please sign up here: Iliad reading sign-up form. The more we are, the fewer lines we each have to read, so less chance of embarrassment!  We read at 1-2 on Friday 22nd March, 2019, in the Edith Morley quad – more details will follow.  For more information, please contact Barbara Goff,





Hector takes leave of Andromache and Astyanax,
Apulian red-figure column-crater, ca. 370–360 BC


In the manner of Angelica Kauffman, based on a lost painting by her
exhibited 1769 at the Royal Academy in London; now in the Tate collection