New Artwork to be Inspired by University Classics and Archaeology Collections


A creative take on artefacts in the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology at the University of Reading will be produced thanks to Meeting Point, a scheme putting art in unexpected places.

The Ure Museum, in the Classics Department, located in the Classics Department in the Edith Morley building on the Whiteknights campus, has been chosen as one of six museums and heritage sites to work in partnership with artists to commission a new work of art inspired by each venue.

The Meeting Point programme is led by contemporary arts agency Arts&Heritage, which supports small and medium scale museums to put art at the heart of their programmes and to forge new relationships between the contemporary arts and heritage sectors.

Professor Amy Smith, Curator of the Ure Museum and Head of the Classics Department at University of Reading, said: “Meeting Point is a great way to keep museums at the forefront of cultural activity, that is, to help ever wider audiences see the connection between contemporary creative arts and the collections of historical, archaeological and sociological information encapsulated in our museums.


We are really looking forward to discovering how artists might respond to different aspects of our collection, perhaps even our archives which themselves tell great stories about those who collected and curated the collections in the 19th-20th centuries. We are also hoping to recruit an artist who is interested to share their creative process with the students.”

The Meeting Point programme has previously worked with venues in the North East, North West and the midlands, partnering more than 20 museums with artists from across the UK.

As well as commissioning a new artwork which responds to their collection, each venue also receives training in best practice for working with artists.

Steph Allen, Executive Director at Arts&Heritage, said: “Arts&Heritage works with museums and heritage sites which have little previous experience of commissioning contemporary art.

We’ll be working with these six venues to pair each with an artist who will create a brand new piece of work – which could be anything from sculpture to a sound installation – created especially for the venue and inspired by its history and collections.”

Arts&Heritage is funded as a Sector Support Organisation by Arts Council England through its National Portfolio Organisation funding.

The other museums selected to take part in the Meeting Point Programme are Didcot Railway Centre; the National Paralympic Heritage Centre in Aylesbury; Furzey Gardens in the New Forest National Park; and‘a space’ arts; and The Brickworks Museum in Southampton.


-The Meeting Point Team

The Price of Purple – The Procurement of Dyes and Colourants in the Ancient World.

Archaeology Magazine has recently published an article on new archaeological evidence of a robust dye industry, that endured on the Mediterranean coast for millennia. University of Reading’s Prof. Annalisa Marzano of the Classics Department has provided expert analysis alongside an interdisciplinary board of specialists, on how archaeological finds can offer insights to the procurement, production and purchasing of dyes in the ancient world. Read The Price of Purple HERE.


Seminar Series Programme -Autumn 2020

The Department of Classics’ Autumn 2020 seminar series will take place on Wednesdays at 4pm, via MS TEAMS. To request a link to attend one or all of the following sessions, please email

7 October: Prof. Thorsten Fögen (Durham), Rival or ally? Competition, controversy and polemics in ancient technical discourse

14 October: Dr Maria Pretzler (Swansea), The Beginning of the Peloponnesian League – not quite as Herodotus tells it?

21 October: Dr Chris Stray (Swansea), Uncovering Kenneth Dover: A scandalous eminence.

28 October: Dr Jennifer Cromwell (Manchester Metropolitan), The use of indigenous languages in conquest societies: the case of Coptic in early Islamic Egypt

11 November: Prof. Fiona Macintosh (University of Oxford), Archiving and Interpreting Performance

18 November: Dr Jack Hanson (Reading), Cities, temples, and scale: A comparative approach

25 November: Dr Julia Hamilton (Leiden), Secondary epigraphy in Old Kingdom Saqqara

Reading Classics in Omnibus

Temple of Apollo at CorinthThe research of two Reading colleagues is featured in this month’s Omnibus, the magazine of the Classical Association.  Now in its fortieth year and eightieth issue, the first edition of Omnibus came out in March 1981, and so it is also exactly the same age as one of its Reading contributors!

Professor Barbara Goff’s article on ‘Greek tragedy in a time of mass migration’ examines recent productions of Greek tragedy emerging from the Syrian civil war and the migrant crisis.  These include several different stagings of Sophocles’ Antigone, in which Syrian refugee participants had some very different ideas about who the characters of the play most resembled in their own lives and experiences.

In ‘Greeks, Egyptians and their languages in Ptolemaic Egypt,’ Professor Rachel Mairs looks at a court case from the second century BC involving two Egyptian women, named Taesis and Sachperis, who belonged to community of priests.  Taesis and Sachperis used all the resources at their disposal, including both the Egyptian and Greek languages, and two legal systems, to protect ownership of their property.

Classicising Crisis: a new publication

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Some important modern political movements call on us to ‘decolonise’ the discipline of Classics and reframe it with less of an emphasis on ‘dead white males’. This is a positive way forward, but we should not forget that the literature and culture of antiquity, in all its diversity, has repeatedly been used to to explore […]

Towards a more inclusive Classics – update on the June workshop

[Update: a nice external writeup of this event has now been published by ‘Mixed up in Classics’ at]

(Posted on behalf of Professor Barbara Goff)

Well, the event exceeded all our expectations.  150 participants registered, including about 30 students and 30 school teachers, and also including colleagues from New Zealand, China, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, France, Austria, Spain, Greece and Belgium.  It was a remarkable meeting, and my co-organiser and I are so pleased we went the online route – without that, we would never have met so many inspiring classicists.

The Zoom format was a bit daunting at first to manage, but we had excellent technical support from Reading’s very own Dr James Lloyd, and our confidence did grow over the two days.  We adopted a new format for this workshop which we can highly recommend.  Speakers’ materials were precirculated online, and then speakers’ actual presentations were very short – only 5 minutes.  Subsequent to that, questions were posted in the chat and moderated by one of the hosts, after which the workshop went into breakout rooms of about 7 people each, for smaller group discussions.

The chat was astonishingly rich, as people did not only post questions but also numerous suggestions for each other, with links and recommendations of books and websites.  All the chat was saved so it can form part of our final report to the Council of University Classics Departments (CUCD) who will publish it in their Bulletin.  I loved reading all the exchanges, although it was hard work to winnow them when it was my turn to moderate and feed pertinent questions to speakers.  I also loved being in the breakout rooms, where I met a huge range of people interested both in the ancient world and in how to promote new ideas about its diversity.

All the papers were stimulating and many dove-tailed with each other in very rewarding ways.  Highlights of discussion included: how to decolonise the teaching of classics in schools as well as at universities; what role reception studies can play in reconceptualising our relations to the ancient world; how to factor a greater range of texts into teaching in order to understand the diversity of antiquity; how the move of teaching online has enhanced some opportunities, and encouraged people to rethink resources; whether we can rethink Classics without rethinking other aspects of the university and higher education generally; and whether we should consider renaming our discipline.  This was all in addition to more specific discussion generated by the variety of papers.  We closed with a panel that included a teacher, two students, and two academics from South America, who debated specific suggestions towards more inclusive teaching, which will also form part of our report.

Work is now afoot to convene a steering committee who will make the workshop an annual event.  Meanwhile, one of our participants has come up with an ‘Inclusive Unseens’ project, which is crowdsourcing new passages for the Latin GCSE unseen.  Teachers and academics are collaborating to provide passages from a greater variety of places, cultures and social classes across the Roman world. 

It is great to know that there is so much energy for the project of making our discipline more welcoming and better suited to our multicultural world.  If you would like to be part of a new Working Group which links the Department of Classics at Reading with the Department of Archaeology, to investigate the inclusivity of our courses and scholarship, please do get in touch.

Towards a more inclusive Classics

Last autumn – it seems a long time ago! – I was very honoured to be invited to speak on ‘Classics and Race’ at an event hosted by St Andrews.  The organisers were aware of my research on Classics in West Africa, and I was pleased to be able to share that, plus I spoke about books that had recently inspired me, like Superior: the return of race science and Afropean: notes from Black Europe.












Afropean reminds readers of the persistent presence of people of African descent within a European continent that people sometimes think of as ‘white’. Superior starts with a visit to the British Museum, where the neoclassical architecture shows us that ‘Britain framed itself as the heir to the great civilizations of Egypt, Greece, the Middle East, and Rome’.  This cultural power and entitlement expressed itself in many ways, including the domination of non-white people throughout the world.  The legacies of this hierarchical attitude beset us still today.












Both these books invite reflections from classicists who are keen to site our discipline firmly in the twenty-first century, and to foreground a history that need not be one only of exclusion. Although these books address questions of race (even while they query the term), other recent work in Classics has shown how the marginalised populations of women and the working class have laboured to build meaningful relationships with the art, literature and history of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  This is an important reminder about what our discipline can be and do, at a time when numerous communities across the world are protesting the fallout from centuries of racism.













The move to ‘decolonise’ Classics take place in a context when disciplines like History, Art History, and Mediaeval Studies have all had similar developments.  All of these disciplines want to rethink their history and make themselves welcoming to more diverse populations of students and scholars.   The ‘Classics and Race’ workshop was part of this, as was the ‘Decolonising Classics’ workshop organised at Reading by Katherine Harloe and Rachel Mairs, in 2018.













All these intellectual currents came together at St Andrews, and I was delighted when Dr Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis suggested that she and I collaborate to organise a seminar series on inclusive Classics at the Institute of Classical Studies.  Alexia has long been involved in outreach events that promote diversity within Classics, and has a special interest in how material culture can be used in such contexts.

Events quickly overtook us and we found ourselves organising a big one-day workshop instead of a seminar series; our call for papers produced 12 contributions that range widely over topics like how to teach the ancient Persians, how to teach Latin to students with dyslexia, how to make the Parthenon Marbles accessible to blind students, and how to negotiate a career in Classics as a person of colour.  When Covid-19 struck, we realised we had been even more overtaken by events.  We wondered whether to cancel or postpone, but decided the issues were too urgent.  So we agreed to take the event online, and spread it out over two afternoons, so as not to have too much ‘Zoom fatigue’.

The wonderful thing that has now happened is that instead of getting 30 scholars and students from the UK in a room at the Institute in London, we have 106 participants from 11 countries.  Needless to say, we are terrified, but wildly excited too. It is a sign that these discussions are timely and are what people want to engage with.  We are very much looking forward to intense and fruitful conversations, and we must cross our fingers that the new technology can keep up with the ancient discipline.  Have a look at our programme here.

And please feel free to get in touch for further information.

Professor Barbara Goff (

Call for Papers: Rome’s Forgotten Poetry

Rome’s forgotten poetry:

Poetic production between community-based art, folklore, and avant-garde entertainment


Panel in the 13th Celtic Conference in Classics, Lyon 15-18 July 2020


Poetry was an omnipresent element of cultural practice of the Roman world. The corpus of ‘published’ (literary) poetry that survives until the present day, to a very large extent, was the product of individuals who, as members of Rome’s ruling classes or their protégés, would find a medium for personal expression and declaration of feelings and beliefs in their poetic compositions, a way to demonstrate artistic skills and aspirations, a ticket to the limelight, etc. Persius’ first satire, for example, is abundant in references to this role of literature in the 1st c. AD: the satirist finds in his little book the way to express his innermost thoughts (1.120), whereas the majority of poets publish their work in the hope of public attention (1.26-77). 

Not all of the poetic activity of the Romans was made public, however. Poetry was written also casually and shared among friends, either expressing affection or wittiness, as Cicero (Fam. 12.16) tells us about one of his friends. And although the surviving remnants of published evidence is more easily accessible to us, poetic activity was documented more conspicuously in everyday life in the Roman world. For one, messages conveyed in verses inscribed in the walls of Pompeii testify to this, whereas verse inscriptions are visible and tangible reminders of poetic compositions that belonged to the people outside the educated elite and beyond the city of Rome.

Beyond its production, poetic activity was also apparent in recitations and manifold performances that are not necessarily best described as examples of dramatic or performing genres. In a notorious passage, Livy (7.2.1-8) explores the development of what one might loosely describe as forms of scenic entertainment in its various manifestations before the paradigmatic shift associated with Livius Andronicus. However, performances of this type with casual verse composition and exchanges between actors have survived until much later, with the participation and active as well as passive involvement of people regardless their social class. Petronius (Sat. 90) reports such a poetic recitation without the expected results, whereas Persius again in his first satire gives examples of poetic recitations that provoke his criticism (1.15-23, 88-90). All these examples elevate Latin poetry from compositions that were merely produced for publication, recitations and performances with specific settings, and artistic products associated with an educated upper class, to a predominantly cultural activity which was inclusive, with the engagement of people that we do not need to understand as historically or socially determined communities.

Disentangling the widespread, shared cultural practice  from dogmatically imposed social and spatial constraints, we propose to examine the poetry of ‘the people’ in its own right, while including its social dynamics, with a view to how poetry as a cultural activity interacted with society, which role(s) it played to its heterogeneous audiences, and how the Romans construed poetry by perpetually interacting with it. Thus, we will look into the poetics of these compositions and enquire into the extent to which people complied to traditional norms and genres. From a different angle, it is also possible to investigate this evidence and examples as parts or variables of ‘popular culture’, exploiting the framework that has been developed recently by Horsfall (2003), Toner (2009), and Grig (2017). Finally, research on literary developments and poetic compositions as cultural activities will contribute to a better understanding of the Roman poetic landscape, as well as of the Roman literary culture (Fantham 1996). Overall, we believe that this approach is designed to bridge the gap between composition and activity in our studying of Roman poetry, considering literary production across social, ethnic, and linguistic groups.

Within this context, we would like to invite proposals for a panel in the 13th Celtic Conference in Classics (Lyon, 15-18 July 2020). Proposals can address themes and answer questions related, but not limited, to:


  • Evidence for documented but not survived poetic activity and its reception in the historical, social, and literary context.
  • Poetic compositions shared within communities and networks without any intention to be published can be examples of this.
  • Poetic compositions publicly displayed (e.g. inscriptions), but not published.
  • Testimonia of oral composition.


  • Poetics of the poetry of the people: stylization; metres and canons; compliance with or divergence from the traditional forms?
  • Themes in the poetry of the people: love, death, wittiness, satire.
  • Short poetic compositions that cannot be defined in terms of genre.

Poetry as cultural activity

  • Forms and contexts of poetic recitations and performing acts in their historical and literary contexts; the evidence for mime.
  • Literary production that is deliberately associated with or disassociated from social classes and its implications. Poetic composition beyond the city of Rome.
  • Poetic production and/against consumption; different compositions in private/public spheres of cultural activities; was the consumed poetry the same or correspondent to the poetry they composed and/or published?
  • Poetry of the people and interaction with the historical, social, and political contexts. E.g. Suetonius (Ner. 39.1) reports the short compositions against Nero that people circulated or posted.


Confirmed speakers:

Yelena Baraz (Princeton University)

Hans Bork (Stanford University)

Maria Jennifer Falcone (University of Pavia)

Jan Kwapisz (University of Warsaw)

Marie Ledentu (Université Lyon III – Jean Moulin)

Luke Roman (Memorial University)

Christoph Schubert (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität)


Please, send your abstracts (300 words) to either of or both the organisers: Dr Andreas Gavrielatos ( and Professor Peter Kruschwitz ( by the 28th February 2020. We aim to complete the selection of papers by the Ides of March.

Due to some secured funding, a limited amount of money will be used to support participants towards travel expenses and/or registration fees. Priority will be given to those without a permanent post, independent researchers, scholars from under-represented groups, etc.

Fear in Ancient Culture

The 15th Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature 2020 University of Reading, Department of Classics
Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th of June 2020

The Department of Classics at the University of Reading is delighted to host the 15th Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature (AMPAL) in 2020. The theme for this year is Fear in Ancient Culture.

This year’s AMPAL includes a tour of the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, our departmental museum founded by Percy and Annie Ure. In addition to the museum’s permanent display, we are proud to present two temporary displays: the British Museum’s Spotlight loan on the theme of Helen and Achilles: beauty, heroism & the fall of Troy, and an inaugural student exhibit, Fear Beyond Words.

We are delighted to announce that the AMPAL 2020 Keynote Speech will be delivered by Professor Fiona McHardy (University of Roehampton). The speech will be open to all university members and the general public.

Fear is a driving force behind human action that can push people to exceed their own expectations or prevent them from acting at all. As a powerful motivator and emotion, fear has a pervasive presence in ancient life and thought, which is also reflected in literature in multiple ways relating among others to motivation, social interaction and power dynamics. Furthermore, as early as Aristotle’s Poetics, fear had already been understood as a ruling force and a powerful notion even for the construction of literary genres, especially of tragedy. While evaluating the ancient literature as an integral part of understanding such a concept, the diverse influences of different fields of study, such as literary criticism, political theory, psychoanalysis, and philosophy, can add valuable insights.

In this context, AMPAL 2020 invites presentations on fear from literary or interdisciplinary approaches. Questions as to how fear can be defined, who, how and why, causes fear, how fear is related to other aspects of ancient thought, how the sense of fear grows or fades, how this notion forms the interaction among humans or between mortals and gods,

and the role of language in the creation of a fearful or fear-free context, are all considered to be substantial aspects of this year’s theme.

Suggested topics on fear may include, but are not limited to:

  • Fear and literary criticism, meta-poetical or reception analysis
  • Fear and other emotions; fear disguised as other emotions; fear and the sense of respect; fear and related notions and experiences; fear and the five senses or other body reactions
  • Cognitive and behavioural approaches to fear, and emotions in general
  • Fear and the manipulation of memory
  • Fear and the construction of myth and heroic profiles or/and social or political identity
  • Fear and power play; the control of political dynamics; the promotion of political agendas and ideas
  • Psychoanalytical approaches to fear; gendered fear; fear as a significant aspect of rites; fear as anxiety
  • Fear of the other (Orientalism, Amazons etc.); philosophical approaches to fear; fear and the fundamental existential questions
  • Depictions and illustrations of fear in ancient art and material culture
  • Aspects, perceptions and depictions of fear in late antique and early Christian literature and thought; reception of the ancient concept of fear in early modern literature

The Department of Classics at Reading invites postgraduates of every level to submit an abstract of 250-300 words for a 20-minute paper followed by 10-minute discussion by the 21st of February 2020. Abstracts should be sent as an unnamed PDF to Please include your name, university affiliation, programme and year of study in the body of your email and not in the abstract.

AMPAL 2020 is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students in any relevant discipline as well as to the general public. Details on the registration fee, the conference dinner and other relevant procedures will be announced in due time. All welcome!

Further information on the exact location of the conference and other events attached to AMPAL 2020 can be found at its website.

Please keep an eye on AMPAL 2020 website and to AMPAL Facebook and Twitter for further announcements. Feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and spread the word!

Ure researchers show Cyprus in 3D

Through the “Cyprus: 3D” project Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology researchers are highlighting the Ure’s Cypriot holdings and investigation their research and pedagogical value. From among its 100+ artefacts from this Mediterranean island, 19 terracotta figurines of the Kamelarga style from Kition have been chosen for this project. The figurines, which date from the Cypro-Archaic period (750-480 BC), represent worshipers holding food, animals, shields and musical instruments. Such figurines have been interpretedTraditionally as ex-votos, but the loss of their archaeological context leaves many questions yet to be answered.

We captured these figurines through photogrammetry to get virtual 3D models, which we later edited and 3D printed. We printed them in different textures, sizes and colours, as some of the original terracottas were found fragmented, with and without traces of paint, etc. Our goal was to encourage the handling of these replicas and to analyse our audience’s reactions. Cyprus: 3D was the common thread throughout our calendar of educational activities for 2018-2019: we have incorporated our figurines in many events to promote the collection as part of our outreach programme and audience development, in which older teenagers and families had the chance to play with our prints as a way to have a better understanding of Cypriot ancient culture. We encouraged responses from the participants with questions about what the figures looked like, who they might represent, what genders they might reflect, what each figure was carrying, with follow-on questions such as why they might be carrying these attributes.

Claudina Romero Mayorga

Learners from different backgrounds, ages and learning abilities engaged with our resources in similar ways: they overlooked the printing quality in some of the replicas and embraced the opportunity to touch and “play” with copies of fragile artefacts that are usually safeguarded inside our cases. The sense of touch provide us with a “tactile reality”, sensations capable of generating mental images that are important for communication, aesthetics and concept formation. Audience interpretations of the artefacts —in terms of gender, status, attributes, etc.—largely matching the theories of the excavators and scholars that have been studying Cypriot material for decades. Learners “played” with the replicas, allowing us to create different slow-motion animations that tried to evoke ancient rituals and behavioural patterns from a civilisation now long gone. With these animations #TheVotives, our team of Cypriote musicians, has developed quite a following on twitter.


[i] Calendar of activities in a slide