Saturday, 19 May 2012
The Centre for Hellenic Studies at Harvard University are offering open access course materials for 'Concepts of the Hero in Greek Civilisation' by Gregory Nagy. Full details can be found here.
Monday, 14 May 2012
I have been appointed as Editor for Roman military history at a new digital humanities project entitled Classical Timeline. The site should develop into a fundamental research and study tool for students in Classics, Archaeology, Ancient History, Literature, Philosophy and Religious Studies. I look forward to working with my new colleagues in developing the project further. Please do recommend the site to your students to aid with their studies.
Monday, 7 May 2012
The study of Pompeii is one of the highlights of my teaching year. Pompeii offers so much for the student of the ancient world, from politics to business, religion to art, daily life to natural disaster. It also provides the opportunity to examine a very ordinary Roman city, much like many other settlements across the Empire. In contrast to the monuments and grandeur of Rome where the lives of 'ordinary' people can disappear (although see Mary Beard's recent documentary series on this topic), Pompeii reflects the lives of people like you and I. The purpose of this post is to outline some of the resources I have found useful in planning and delivering courses on Pompeii. For obvious reasons, this cannot be an exhaustive list and I hope that readers will feel free to add feedback and suggestions below.
Pompeii is well served by a range of suitable academic works. Professor Mary Beard's superlative 'Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town' offers a fundamental reconstruction of life in Pompeii. It is required reading for anyone with an interest in Pompeii, and Roman life in general. I also like 'Pompeii: The Living City' by Alex Butterworth and Ray Laurence. This text is particularly useful for the dramatic reconstructions it offers of particular places and individuals, which can be invaluable for inspiring student interest within a specific topic. 'Cities of Roman Italy' by Guy de la Bedoyere acts as an overview of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Ostia. It is particularly suitable for A Level students, although it could also be used profitably by undergraduates.'The Complete Pompeii' by Joanne Berry presents a comprehensive overview of the town and is made particularly attractive by the excellent illustrations and photographs throughout. Moving beyond general introductions to the site, there are a number of rigorous academic treatments of specific aspects of Pompeii. The definitive source book for Pompeii should be used for the epigraphic evidence from the site. 'Roman Pompeii: Space and Society' by Ray Laurence examines the connections between the fabric of Pompeii and the society of the city. Anyone with an interest in housing in Pompeii should read 'Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum' by Professor Anthony Wallace-Hadrill. Paul Zanker's 'Pompeii: Public and Private Life' is a sweeping analytical treatment suitable for more advanced students. Finally, the collection of essays in 'The World of Pompeii' cover most aspects of the ancient city.
A number of documentaries are useful for introducing students to the study of Pompeii. The BBC documentary accompanying Mary Beard's book has the distinction of being both learned and approachable. The BBC docu-drama 'The Last Day of Pompeii' is useful for the end of the city, although it is difficult to find nowadays. It does an admirable job of using the archaeological evidence to explain the destruction of Pompeii, meaning that the drama element is underpinned by suitable references to actual finds from the site. Pliny's recollections of the eruptions also feature prominently. I heartily recommend Guy de la Bedoyere's YouTube videos of sites from Pompeii. These are an excellent method of introducing students to particular buildings within the city.
A recent article in World Archaeology magazine is an accessible overview of recent work in Pompeii. Similarly, an article in a recent edition of the Journal of Classics Teaching by Dr Penny Goodman highlights recent archaeological research taking place in the city. Articles such as these serve to demonstrate to students that there is still much to be learnt from Pompeii. The latest news on Pompeii can be followed over at Blogging Pompeii, which forms a valuable forum for researchers interested in the ancient city. Access to a vast range of photographs of the city can be found at Pompeii in Pictures. An overview of the Forum can be found at the Pompeii Forum Project.
The resources outlined above form only a brief overview of the range of material which is available to support the teaching of Pompeii. It is a subject which, in my experience, continues to fascinate students and forms a perfect introduction to the study of the Roman world.
Friday, 4 May 2012
It is sad to hear that Peter Connolly, the esteemed author and illustrator of the Roman army has recently passed away. I was fortunate to meet him in person a couple of times at conferences and talks. I still have copies of Connolly's books which inspired me as a child. In particular, his books 'The Legionary' and 'The Cavalryman' present a comprehensive overview of their subjects which nevertheless are accessible to children. His illustrations of the Roman army are, in my opinion, some of the best archaeological reconstruction drawings ever created. Connolly was also an experimental archaeologist with an interest in cavalry saddles. His article on Roman cavalry saddles (co-authored with Carol Van Driel-Murray) published in Britannia is available on JSTOR.
Some of Connolly's image can be seen here. A range of Connolly's books can be found here.