Visiting Roma Christiana


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

Welcome to our new Fulbright scholar

Reading Classics extends an enthusiastic welcome to Bill Beck, who will be joining us for the 2015-16 academic year. Currently finishing a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Bill has won a prestigious Fulbright award from the US government in order to come to Reading. During the year he will be working on a translation of the scholia (ancient commentaries) to the first four books of Homer’s ‘Iliad’. Professor Eleanor Dickey, who will be working with Beck, comments, ‘I am very excited about this project. The ‘Iliad’ scholia are a vital resource for our understanding of the text and ancient interpretation of Homer, as well as numerous other topics, and yet they have never been translated into any modern language. Since they are often challenging to read — a normal training in reading ancient Greek does not enable someone to understand them — the lack of a translation means that only an elite group of exceptionally well-trained scholars has access to this valuable material. Bill’s project will make these scholia available to a wide audience and therefore do a tremendous service to the field as a whole. And he is the ideal person to undertake it: a project of this nature requires someone with a special combination of skills as well as energy and enthusiasm, so very few scholars are in a position even to contemplate it. Bill could have asked to conduct this project anywhere, so I am particularly pleased that he wants to work with us!’

Professor Annalisa Marzano, head of Classics at Reading, comments: ‘I congratulate Bill on his achievement, which is even more impressive considering that he won the award in the ‘All Disciplines’ category where he was competing not only with other Classicists but with applicants from a wide range of fields. His future stay in our Department while he will be conducting his research is yet another sign of Reading Classics’ thriving research community and numerous international links.’

Bill Beck comments: ‘I am thrilled to have the opportunity to pursue this project, and I am delighted to be able to come to Reading and to work with Professor Dickey, who has been unbelievably supportive of my project from its inception. I’m very much looking forward to getting to know the rest of the Department, as well; with a text as varied as the ‘Iliad’ scholia are, I will no doubt have much to learn from everyone there. Hopefully, this work will help bring the margins a little closer to the center.’


Dr Nicholls awarded a BA Rising Star Engagement Award.

Post from Dr Nicholls

I am delighted to have been awarded a British Academy ‘Rising Star’ Engagement Award (BARSEA). The BARSEA scheme is intended to allow humanities researchers at a relatively early stage of their careers to engage with the work of the Academy, and to organise events, training, and mentoring activities for colleagues in their own and other disciplines.

My application to the scheme was based on my work in digital visualisation. I have completed a large digital model of ancient Rome for use in research and teaching. I have developed that interest into an undergraduate module in which I teach undergraduates how to research and create their own digital reconstructions of our local town of Silchester. Last year this work won an award from the Guardian.

For the BARSEA scheme, I wanted to make contact with others engaged in similar work. Even within my own field of ancient history I know of several other visualisation schemes, and the recent REF – especially the impact case studies – show that this is true of other disciplines. There’s a lot to discuss for those of us working in this relatively new field – tools and techniques, aims, integration with existing research, new avenues of exploration. It would also be helpful to talk to those working in commercial digital studios, as there could be much to learn from each others’ approaches and techniques.

I know that I would find this sort of discussion helpful and interesting, and hope others would too. I proposed to the British Academy that I should use the funding offered by this scheme to find and talk to other projects, and bring them together for a colloquium, in Reading (next Easter) to discuss their work and how it helps their research.

The award scheme also supports training and mentoring events. As I have experience in teaching the software (SketchUp) that I use for a lot of my modelling, I thought it might be useful to offer a day workshop to researchers interested in exploring such techniques for themselves. This will happen in Reading next academic year, and anyone interested in participating is invited to contact me.

As well as running my own project, I look forward to working with my very distinguished fellow award-winners. They have a range of fascinating projects – law, oral traditions in African countries, energy ethics, and medieval multilingualism to name just a few – and we will be learning more about each other’s work at the Academy’s induction event in May.

MN blog pic

Publication of Europe’s oldest children’s book completed at Reading

The recent publication of the Colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana volume II, by Reading Classicist Eleanor Dickey, completes the work begun with her 2012 volume and makes available for the first time a complete translation of Europe’s oldest children’s book. The Colloquia are a set of bilingual dialogues and narratives used in antiquity for language teaching. They are a combination of material used for teaching Greek to Roman schoolchildren and material used for teaching Latin to Greek-speaking adults. The former materials make up the children’s book, which may have been used by Rome’s greatest emperors when they were at school.

This section of the book describes the daily lives of schoolboys. For example:

Teacher: Yesterday you played truant, and at midday you were not at home. I went to look for you and heard everything you did from your nurse.

Pupil: The person who spoke to you is lying; my father took me with him up to the praetorium. The magistrates greeted him personally, and he received letters from the emperors. When he got them he immediately went up to the temple and offered sacrifice for the eternal preservation and victory of the emperors. Only after that did we come down. He’s an important judge, you know: today he started hearing cases at dawn.

Teacher: You can always think of an excuse, can’t you? You don’t seem to realize that time off from school results in an ignorant boy. Now show me, how much have you written? Do you call that good? You really deserve to be flogged, but I’ll let you off this time.

The Latin-teaching materials include vignettes from the lives of adults in the Roman empire: shopping, eating, drinking, fighting, bathing, etc. This passage, for example, illustrates how to tell off a friend or relative who comes home the worse for wear after an orgy:

– Sir, is there anyone who acts like you and drinks as much as you do? What will the people who saw you in this condition say? Never before have you acted so greedily at a dinner party! Is this the way to behave when you are a respectable father, someone to whom others come for advice? It’s impossible to act more shamefully or ignominiously than you did yesterday!

– I certainly am very much ashamed.

– What are other people saying behind your back? You have got yourself great infamy and blame through such intemperance! Please never do anything like this again. Oh no, do you need to vomit now? I can’t believe this!

– I don’t know what to say; I’m so upset that I can’t explain anything to anyone.

The Colloquia also include collections of useful phrases, like a modern Berlitz phrasebook. The topics covered, however, are somewhat different from those one expects to find in Berlitz. For example, here is the section on how to make excuses:

– You did do what I asked you to immediately, didn’t you?

– Actually I haven’t done it yet.

– Why not?

– I’m going to do it in a little while, because now I’m in a hurry to go out / I’m hungry / I’m on my way to a wedding / I’m on my way to see a friend / my friends are waiting for me / I’m on my way to take a bath.

Professor Dickey, who is spending this term as Spinoza Visiting Scholar at Leiden University in the Netherlands, is surprisingly sorrowful at the publication of her book. She commented, ‘Of course it’s great to see the book appear at last, and Cambridge University Press has done a fantastic job of producing a beautiful volume with top-quality illustrations. But to be honest,

I’m sad to have finished this project. I’ll miss the Colloquia: it’s very rare that one has such a fun text to work on!’

For further information on the Colloquia see

REF 2014 Confirms: Reading’s Classics Department is World-Leading

Eagerly awaited, results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 were published today.

Reading’s Classics Department is proud to feature in the Top 3 Classics Departments in the UK for research outputs (otherwise known as publications): we achieved a GPA of 3.16, and only the Universities of Cambridge (3.19) and St. Andrews (3.17) scored higher.


Over 37% of our research outputs were rated 4* (for quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour), and an additional 45% were rated 3* (for quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour). This puts over 82% of our research outputs in the highest categories of excellence.

Considering further indicators such as research environment (with 80% of our indicators rated as of 4* and 3* quality) and impact (100% of our activities rated as of 4* and 3* quality), the department managed to achieve an outstanding sixth position overall in the rankings for our unit of assessment (otherwise known as Classics).

This is a substantial improvement from our position of 2008, where the department achieved a respectable 13th position (out of 24 departments).

The cutting-edge research of the Reading Classics department covers many different areas within Classics: linguistics, literature, multiculturalism, historiography, ancient religion, ancient economic history, Classical tradition, and digital humanities.

This terrific result in the REF 2014 exercise recognizes the hard work of all academic staff, their enthusiasm for the discipline, and their international standing.


Enthusiasm for ‘Experiencing Ancient Education’ pours in from participants


Participants in Reading’s ‘Experiencing Ancient Education’ event, at which we re-created a Roman schoolroom and invited local children to experience the type of exercises done in ancient schools, have expressed gratitude and enthusiasm for the event, along with hopes that we will repeat it. (Participants have also sent us photographs, which can be seen along with our own at Their reflections on the value of the experience and how much could be learned from it are illuminating not only about the ancient world but also about our own. Here is a selection of comments from both the department’s own volunteers and the parents and teachers who brought children to our schoolroom:

“The whole day in all its aspects provided an interesting and enjoyable experience for both the public and the staff members involved, but certain things struck me particularly forcibly. The first was how easy it is, in fact, to exclude the outward signs of modernity: a few bolts of painted cloth and paper, and some straw, created a real sense of separation from the rest of the HumSS building and from the campus outside. As a result of this, and of their own enthusiasm, the ‘pupils’ in the ancient schoolroom behaved quite differently as they stepped through the door-curtain, leaving behind them the usual twenty-first century mannerisms and showing an amazing willingness to embrace the new experience of writing and learning in a different environment. It was eye-opening to have to grapple with the technical challenges of ancient writing materials, though – at risk of sounding patronising towards the ancients – it was immediately apparent that these had advantages quite as strong as their restrictiveness, especially in terms of sustainability, a quality pertinent to our present-day concerns: the re-use of ostraka and the smoothing out of wax tablets to receive the next set of text showed how in antiquity scarce and pricey resources were husbanded with inspiring care.” — Emma Aston, head teacher.

“Being a late antique headteacher was great fun and not much like any teaching I’ve done in any other context. We were all transported, through the smells (straw & sandals & later sweat) into another world in which you could barely tell the difference between boys/girls and children/adults … since we were all dressed identically (only we teachers were set apart by our majesterial chairs) and pupils & their usual teachers were crouched on the haystacks & ground together, sharing inkwells, all talking out loud! I particularly enjoyed the one-on-one aspect of the teaching, so that we could take each person on his or her own terms, helping her or him with whatever s/he wanted to do and whatever previous knowledge s/he may or may not have brought into the room.” — Amy Smith, head teacher.

“What terrific fun it was!” — Rachel Mairs, head teacher.

“The ancient school room was a fantastic experience to be a part of. I appreciate it was a great experience for the children – sitting in straw writing on all sorts of ancient materials. However, I can’t help but marvel at what I’ve been able to do and learn from the experience. In preparing the materials I was able to indulge in, what it is for us, an unusual and poetic translation of the start of the Iliad as well as some really interesting poems from our own British poets. Also, it is often difficult to visualise the things you are told in lectures. Being told they wrote on wax tablets, you think ‘but how does that work?’ Well, I enjoyed playing with the materials as much as the children did (especially the wax tablets). Of course it was also lovely to engage with the wider community and bring them into our marvellous world of Classics. It challenged my skills to teach as I had to adapt to the varying abilities of the students and varying knowledge that they had. Indeed ancient teachers would have clearly had to deal with this also! I would thoroughly recommend, if the Classics department do such an activity again, that any student get involved in any way they can.” — Rachael Hopley, student volunteer.

“Being involved in the ‘Ancient Schoolroom’ event was just as much of an education for me as it was for our visitors. In immersing myself through role-playing a teacher in an ancient schoolroom, I learnt a great deal about methods of ancient education. Our visitors also clearly enjoyed their time in the schoolroom, likely due to their fascination with the activities that are so far removed from any modern experience of school; indeed all the visitors that I spoke with were very quick to offer praise to both Eleanor and the department as a whole (I heard no criticism all day!). The schoolroom itself was unrecognisably transformed into an ancient schoolroom and the costumes were impressive. I believe that Eleanor’s attention to detail in the pursuit of authenticity was the primary reason for the success of the event.” — Chris Pritchard, student volunteer.

“It was such a great experience, and the atmosphere in the classroom was just magical!” — Bethan White, student volunteer.

“This opportunity to experience ancient life is one I wish I had as a child, especially as the schoolroom was impressively put together with amazing attention to detail. My favourite part was speaking to people of all ages about the objects and the Ure Museum during the handling sessions- it was lovely to see both the students and parents enjoying them.” — Rebecca MacRae, Ure Museum.

“You could see that the children that took part in the event enjoyed dressing up as Roman children and made excellent pupils in the classroom – I’ve never seen children more engaged – concentrating hard on the exercises they were given and queuing up to ask the teachers for more work! It became difficult to get the children to leave the class so that others could have their turn. I personally enjoyed checking whether the children knew that they should greet the teacher and other children when they entered the classroom, and was blown away when some children very naturally told me the greetings in Latin! An enjoyable day and wonderful opportunity for children to step back in time.” — Katie Mitchell, staff volunteer.

“The children clearly enjoyed every moment of it and it was so good to hear them come out saying ‘that was really fun’ or ‘that was fantastic’ which I heard more than once. The fact that they remained in the classroom for at least an hour despite it being really so hot in the morning indicates how much they were enjoying it. It was interesting that some of the younger ones were particularly taken with learning by heart and became quite competitive. So often we hear of learning by heart being dismissed by teachers and competition being thought of as a really bad thing! Maybe not….” — Jackie Baines, staff volunteer.

“I really enjoyed learning to calculate using Roman numerals. It isn’t as difficult as one might think: some calculations are actually easier than they are with our own numerals. What was much more challenging than I expected was writing on an ostracon with a reed pen. I’m looking forward to using an abacus next time!” — Philomen Probert, maths teacher.

“Thank you for letting me participate in such a brilliant event!” — from an outside volunteer.

“I totally loved the whole experience.” — from an outside volunteer.

“Just wanted to thank you for a superb time yesterday. … The girls absolutely loved the morning and were also raving about the handling session given to them in the Museum.” — from a teacher who brought her class.

“Thank you so much for organising a wonderful event. The girls and I thoroughly enjoyed it and they certainly took a lot away which will inform their learning once we study the topic later in the year. … The school room itself was wonderfully prepared and I loved the rushes on the floor … Please please do it again next year!” — from a teacher who brought her class.

“It was a big success and the students loved the whole experience.” — from a teacher who brought her class.

“Would just like to extend our thanks for the University making us feel so welcome and included in the project. I have received lots of positive feedback of how much they all enjoyed the day. Thank you again – they are already looking forward to next year.” — from the organizer of a group of homeschooling parents who brought their children to the event.

“I just wanted to thank you for being so helpful and accommodating regarding [child’s name] yesterday. She really enjoyed the event and didn’t want to leave! Bethan was really lovely with her – I wish that everybody [child’s name] comes across was so good with her! I have to say both [child’s name] and I preferred the Roman style of education to the modern “everyone learning the same” model! Setting up the schoolroom clearly involved an awful lot of work so many thanks for all of your efforts putting on such a great event.” — from a parent who brought a child with special needs.

“My two children really enjoyed the Roman school yesterday and both felt it was fun and educational. We would definitely recommend the day to others.” — from a parent.

“It was a fantastic experience for my daughter. The Roman alphabets copied by her on a piece of pottery was used by classmates to write their names. She also took a loaf a spelt bread to share with her class. A big thank you to all involved. Look forward to more events like this.” — from a parent.

“I really enjoyed the trip to Reading university, as I had a lot of fun and learnt lots about ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. My favourite part of the trip was learning about the genuine artefacts and handling them. It was amazing to see the miniature pots and jugs, that were used as toys. I was a bit nervous before I went into the ancient classroom but everyone was so relaxed and nice, that I had a great time. I particularly liked reading the extract from Homer’s Iliad, and writing on the wax tablets, which was actually quite hard to rub out. Overall I had a brilliant time and would recommend it to anyone interested in Classics, Latin or Greek.” — from a pupil named Emily.

“It was a really fun experience because we got to learn about the Romans first hand, in a way we’ve never been able to before.” — from pupils named Imogen and Josie.

“I really enjoyed the ancient classroom as it was fascinating to see how we would have been taught if we had been alive all those years ago.” — from a pupil named Ellie.

“I found it a highly enjoyable experience and realistic! I really liked the Classics kitchen! The exercises were really interesting and the schoolroom experience was a complete change to what we are used to. I am extremely lucky that I was able to go on this trip – and I am so glad that I did!” — from a pupil named Kim.

“The children were so full of enthusiasm and so careful and considerate (not a single prop was lost at the end of the day, and no one even spilled any ink!) that it was a great pleasure to welcome them to our department. Having spent years researching ancient education in the abstract, I found it tremendously exciting to try out in practice the teaching methods I have painstakingly reconstructed from the ancient sources — and it was wonderful to see how well those methods work! Since whipping recalcitrant children is a well-known feature of ancient education (though not one found in the materials I have been editing, since those materials were written by teachers and it is normally former students who mention whippings), we had many discussions beforehand about how to handle misbehaviour and whether to have any sham whippings. We decided it would be better not to risk frightening anyone by even an obviously fake whipping, but the really striking thing was that on the day itself it would have made no difference what we decided, since there was no misbehaviour at all. What a lovely set of participants!” — Eleanor Dickey, main organizer (for relevant publications see and

We post below the report about the event in Reading’s Midweek Chronicle; see also the descriptions written by students from Farnborough Hill School, and by the Classics Kitchen.

Newspaper ED

Experiencing Ancient Education: the Reading ancient schoolroom

School image

A blog post from Eleanor Dickey.

Above: A Roman relief from Trier showing part of an ancient school, and Below: Reading’s Emma Aston modelling a costume based on that relief.

On November 19th the department will be hosting an ‘Experiencing Ancient Education’ event, in which local children will have the opportunity to find out first-hand what an ancient school was like. This day is part of the Being Human Festival of the Humanities, a new initiative aiming to bring cutting-edge Humanities research to the general public in novel and interesting ways. The festival includes many other exciting events, including some others at Reading; you can find the full programme at

Our event builds on recent work on ancient textbooks that describe a day in the life of schoolchildren; these textbooks have recently been translated into English for the first time ( by Reading’s Eleanor Dickey. We are gathering a set of Roman costumes along with wax tablets, styluses, reed pens, ostraca, papyrus, windows looking out on the Nile, and all the other accoutrements necessary to create an authentic atmosphere in what is usually the Resources Room. Lecturers and students from the department are learning about ancient teaching methods (no raised hands and no note-taking — how will we cope?) in preparation for guiding participants through a set of ancient-style school exercises. We are confident that the experience awaiting our participants will be unique in modern times — though with great regret we have decided not to use that stereotypical tool of the ancient classroom, the whip.

Several other activities are planned to accompany the event: the Classics Kitchen will be selling authentic Roman food and explaining how it is prepared, the Ure museum will be offering a special look at its collections, and we hope also to have a demonstration on how to make ancient writing equipment.

Bookings are almost full, but some tickets are still available; these are free but need to be reserved as the Resources Room has a finite capacity. You can reserve a place at


30-second ancient Rome

A blog post from Dr Matthew Nicholls

I’m delighted to announce the publication of ‘30-second ancient Rome’, a compact guide to fifty of the most important topics and people in ancient Roman history. This has been published as a handsome (but inexpensive) hardback by Ivy Press, and should, I hope, be of interest to anyone who wants to know a bit more about the Romans.

Putting the book together was a really enjoyable process. The format was set by the press, who have a whole series of these 30-second guides – my Rome book takes its place alongside introductions to architecture, mythology, anatomy, and so on, each following the same template (though strangely J.R.R. Tolkein was upgraded to a ‘three-minute guide’ – there are some things that resist simplification; happily the entirety of Roman history is not one of them).

My first task was to choose the fifty entries. As our third-year dissertation students will know, the challenge in such an exercise is not what to put in, but what to leave out. Some topics were obvious enough, and the Press was understandably keen to see, for instance, entries on the legions and gladiatorial combat. For my part, I wanted the book to reflect something of the breadth of approach that a Classics department like ours brings to the study of an entire civilisation: one of the attractions of Classics as a subject is the chance to combine literary, historical, archaeological and other material. I also wanted the book to surprise or intrigue its readers as well as covering more familiar ground.

As the format called for seven chapters, I decided to group material into broad categories: a more or less chronologically organised opening chapter on the foundation and growth of Rome; chapters on social history and daily life topics; a section on language and literature and another on religion; and finally two chapters about art, architecture, monuments, and technology. Each chapter also includes a biography of a figure of particular relevance. Resisting the temptation to include the biography of Augustus in every chapter, I had fun thinking of suitable individuals.

Gradually the list of topics took shape, and then I had the enjoyable task of asking colleagues who are experts in each field to write the entries with me. With the honourable exception of Ailsa Hunt in Cambridge who kindly wrote the whole religion chapter, I was able to find current, past, and even (by an act of prescience) one future Reading colleague to share their wide-ranging expertise, so you will find entries by Susanne Turner, Dunstan Lowe, Peter Kruschwitz, Annalisa Marzano, and Luke Houghton.

I wrote most of the entries myself, though, and in doing so enjoyed the unusual discipline of writing for a general audience to a very tightly-controlled word count. The series is called the 30-second guides as the main entry on each page is meant to take no longer than that to read. This is a very different sort of writing to normal academic prose, which is statelier in its pace and rich in footnotes and detail; I found that it required real care to compress the maximum number of facts into a short compass, and writing in this way was an agreeable technical challenge.

By the time the entries were complete I was also working on the glossaries that accompany each chapter and consulting with the Press on illustrations – I managed to find a place for a couple of pictures from my own digital Rome model, not to mention my photos of various corners of the Roman world. I was particularly pleased that alongside all the things you’d expect in an introductory guide, we managed to fit in more recondite material including a chapter on

concrete and mentions – however brief – of porridge, jurisprudence, fish sauce, jokey tombstones, public libraries and – best of all – Sterculius, god of manure. As I wrote in the introduction, ‘all roads led to Rome, and we hope that this book will also take you there, by a variety of different routes.’


A new exciting publication from one of our staff members has just appeared: discover the The Hellenistic ‘Far East’ with Rachel Mairs

RachelBookClassics students – and those with a taste for sub-par Oliver Stone movies – will know that Alexander the Great campaigned as far as the very edges of the world as known to the ancient Greeks, in Afghanistan and India.  A story which is less well know is that of the military colonists he left behind.  Greek and Macedonian soldiers were settled in remote garrisons, as well as ancient cities such as Samarkand and Bactra.  For almost three hundred years, the descendants of these soldiers ruled as kings in Central Asia and India, minting coins with Greek legends.

Like many of our current third-year dissertation students, I found that unanswered questions from my undergraduate studies made for a great research project.  What happened at the ‘fringes’ of the ancient world?  How did Greek settlers interact with local populations?  In areas where few ancient written sources survive, what other forms of evidence can we employ in historical research?  Why have ancient Greek olive oil jars been excavated in Afghanistan?

My new book The Hellenistic Far East: Archaeology, Language and Identity in Greek Central Asia has just been published by University of California Press.  It presents exciting, and little known, textual and archaeological material from Central Asia and India in the period after Alexander the Great.  Through this evidence, we can explore a complex, multiethnic, multilingual society in the contact zone between Greek and ‘barbarian’, settled and nomad, East and West.For those interested in finding out more, the Hellenistic Far East blog ( has regularly updated bibliographical essays.