On a sometimes wet and sometimes gorgeous autumnal Saturday, OLCAP ran its first Master’s workshop aimed at level six (third year) and MA students. For our first event we went back to basics to practice mapping monuments. The main aim was to get students thinking about the types of skills that they might need to fulfil their career aspirations as well as to get them thinking critically about space, maps and the landscape.
Using Singleton Park as our base, and armed with wellies and rain coats, we spent the day measuring and recording parts of the Gorsedd stone circle that was built in 1925 and expanded for the 1964 Eisteddford. The “master” who kindly donated his expertise for the day was Alex Makovics, a GIS specialist, surveyor and archaeologist. Alex has worked all over the world surveying a range of environments from the deserts of Egypt and Sudan to the jungle of Laos and now with the GIS office for Keep Wales Tidy.
Our students, from History, Egyptology and Ancient History worked in two groups to measure, record and draw the key contours and features of the central “altar” and one of the taller stones in the circle. We got to grips with drawing skills, using tape measures, string, plumb bobs, wooden stakes, and grid paper. Precision, patience, problem solving and teamwork were key!
Recording the 'stone altar'.
Documenting the outline of a stone monument.
A fancy plumb bob!
Alex demonstrating how to level up the auto level.
Our students were also able to practice setting up and levelling an auto level to measure heights – easier said than done. Our main challenges were keeping dry, making sure that the grass did not interfere with measurements we needed to take on the ground, and trying not to get too distracted by the many dogs that wanted to join in! Over the space of four hours we were able to mark out grids on the ground, measure and fully record our “excavation” units.
We rounded the workshop off with a short talk from Alex who shared with us some of his favourite maps. Highlights included data collated to visually represent the spread of cholera in 19th century London (the led to stemming the disease), the dramatic depletion of army recruits involved in the Napoleonic War (see the map below!), the density of hedge rows across Wales, and an intriguing example of map misuse that juxtaposed voting patterns with wild boar populations in modern day Poland. What a great way to get us thinking about how precise measurements of the minutiae can feed into the bigger picture!
A huge thank you to Alex for joining us, to Alex Langlands (History, Swansea) for supporting the event by sharing equipment needed to undertake our surveys, and to our wonderful students for taking part!
This year the Department of Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology decided to start a series of social events for staff and students, with the aim to celebrate and strengthen our sense of community. This week’s post is by Dr Maria Pretzer who has been co-ordinating these events. Maria reports:
As it happened, the first event was scheduled for 31st October, so a Halloween theme was a given. We decided to start with frightening our Egyptologists particularly by putting on The Mummy (1999) with its highly accurate depiction of ancient Egypt and Egyptian archaeology.
After the end of the movie, Troy Sagrillo offered some comments about some of the details. Astonishingly, the production did have an Egyptologist as adviser, and with some effort and expertise, one can actually spot their impact, in places where details are somewhat more Egyptologically inaccurate than throughout the rest of the movie.
One crucial take-away from the story is certainly that speed-reading hieroglyphs is a necessary survival skill: the ancient historian struggling with the hieroglyphics on the DVD menu could have done with some of that, too. It is clear that may more people should take our modules in Ancient Egyptian language! The film also features spoken ancient Egyptian, using a pronunciation that’s a few thousand years out of date.
Prizes were handed out for the best costume (a carrot, as it happens) and to the winner and runners-up in the move bingo, which featured, among other questions, the identification of various things Christian Knoblauch wouldn’t do on his excavation in Sudan. Christian will be relieved to hear that the accumulated answers pretty much encompass everything anybody does with ancient artefacts in this film.
This was a lot of fun, and we had a good turn-out, too: thanks to everybody for coming! The ‘Departmental Social Event’ experiment continues on 21st November, when we’ll be putting Socrates on trial all over again.
The Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology and KYKNOS, The Centre for Research on the Narrative Literatures of the Ancient World, hosted a COAH-sponsored Research Colloquium on Friday, 25 October 2019, in the Mall Room, Taliesin, on Singleton Campus.
The international event – part of the regular biannual Colloquia programme of KYKNOS – centred around four exciting lectures on Greek and Latin texts and their historical and cultural contexts.
Alan Lloyd (Swansea) ‘Timeo Danaos: Motifs can walk’
Rachel Bird (Swansea) ‘The Greek Novel: Voyeurism, Sophrosyne and Heroines as Text’
Olivier Demerre (Ghent) ‘Catching Bodies, Catching Texts: Longus and Ovid on hunting’
Koen de Temmerman (Ghent) ‘Stories of Erotic Desire in Late Antique Hagiography:
the curious case of Euphemia and the Goth (and Callirhoe)’
The Colloquium, organised by Ian Repath and Fritz-Gregor Herrmann, marked the 15th anniversary of the foundation of KYKNOS at Swansea, and at the same time celebrated the 40th anniversary of the arrival at Swansea of Prof. em. John Morgan, at whose initiative KYKNOS was established as a research centre in 2004. At the end of the formal proceedings, John Morgan was presented with a Festschrift with contributions by former colleagues and students, many of whom were present at the event. Some Organic Readings in Narrative, Ancient and Modern contains seventeen original essays which reflect both the wide range of John’s interests and the high esteem in which he is held internationally.
KYKNOS promotes research on the narrative literatures of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Near East.
OLCAP – the research group for Object and Landscape Centred Approaches to the Past is new to the College of Arts and Humanities. The group’s core aim is to promote and support research, teaching, and training that falls broadly in the fields of material culture studies and landscape, especially where these relate to the ancient world. There are three main, related strands of our mission: Research, Pedagogy, Training and Employability. You can read more about these on OLCAP’s webpage. On 14th October, OLCAP celebrated its official launch and we introduced these aims to staff and students across COAH to explore research synergies and potential future collaborations. The kick-off event was a wonderful opportunity to advertise our annual programme – details of which can also be found here: OLCAP 2019 2020 Events. This term we particularly look forward to hosting our first (of many!) termly core skills training workshops, ‘Mapping Material Culture’ where our students will have the chance to practice mapping the landscape in preparation for archaeological investigation! This will take place on 09.11.19 at Singleton Campus, 11.00-16.00.
OLCAP’s first sponsored post on Hieroglyphs, Heroes, and Heretics is a report from Dr Christian Knoblauch (Lecturer in Egyptian material Culture) about his collaboration with Brown University and their excavations in the Sudan. If you would like to hear more about the project, Christian will be giving a talk at 3pm on Tuesday 29th of October at Singleton Campus, Keir Hardie Building Room 429 as part of the CLAHE Research Seminar Series.
Swansea in the Sudan
The first ever Swansea-Brown Uronarti Regional Archaeological Project team on site in the Sudan, January 2019 (image 1). The project is co-directed by Dr Christian Knoblauch (Swansea, far right) and Dr Laurel Bestock (Brown, front left). In the background, there is the remains of the massive mudbrick gateway that controlled entry into the Middle Kingdom fortress – the focus of our work. Although it is almost 4000 years old, the fortress still stands in places to a height of 7 metres. In the foreground is a back-filled administrative building excavated by the team where we were able to observe, for the first time, the arrival of the Egyptians at the site and their organisation of a mammoth building project. Beyond the fortress, looking south, one can see Lake Nasser/Lake Nubia and the desert adjacent to the ancient border with Kush at the Semna Nile Cataract. During the season, we conducted a systematic survey (image 2) of these areas in order to contextualise the fortress in wider settlement and activity patterns. A report on this last aspect of the work has been accepted for publication by Antiquity and will appear in the Project Gallery shortly.
One interesting aspect of the season was the recording and micro-morphological sampling of an intact column of stratigraphy (image 3) Such well-defined occupation layers are a rarity due to the clearing of most of the interior of the fortress in the 1930’s.
We are hopeful the final scientific analysis of the layers and artefacts will shed light on the changing nature of the occupation of the site over two and a half centuries. Finds from these layers included fish-bones and angling equipment, administrative seals, stone arrowheads and some remarkably well preserved textiles (image 4).
There was also time to conduct a condition report of the New Kingdom stone temple that has suffered considerable damage in recent years. An inventory of all decorated blocks (e.g. image 5) was compiled and recommendations were made to our partner, the National Corporation of Museums and Antiquities concerning conserving the structure and making it better accessible to other scholars and the public in the future. We plan to continue this work in early 2020.
The author thanks the COAH Research Fund for enabling his participation in the project in January 2019. Images courtesy of URAP.
Today’s post kick-starts a mini series that will feature on Hieroglyphs, Heroes and Heretics this academic year that showcases the type of teaching that we deliver and our student work. Dr Stephen Harrison, module co-ordinator, introduces the focus and aims of the module, to provide that all important context for the first of our student pieces!
Stephen Harrison: Ronseal don’t sponsor any of our modules at Swansea University, but if they did Beyond Mainland Greece would probably be that module because, like their quick drying wood stain, it is a course that does exactly what It says on the tin: it takes students beyond the Greek mainland – into Asia. The course focuses on two empires, the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire and the Seleucid Empire. The Persians are traditionally seen as the bad guys in Western history: the barbarian invaders whose cruel kings Darius and Xerxes (especially Xerxes) burned Athens to the ground, threatening to snuff out democracy before it was fully established. 150 years later, the Greeks were to have their revenge thanks to Alexander III of Macedon, who earned the moniker ‘Alexander the Great’ as a result of his conquest of Persia. But Alexander died without an established heir and his empire quickly disintegrated as his leading generals fought to succeed to the throne. In territorial terms, at least, the most successful of the contenders was Seleucus I, who emerged who carved out an empire which stretched from India to the Ionian coast. His family would rule much of Asia before pressure from the twin threats of Parthia and Rome in the Second Century BC reduced the Seleucid Empire to a small kingdom centred on Syria.
Traditionally, university courses have given short shrift to these empires – the Persians pop up as invaders at the foundational moment of Classical Greece but are soon dismissed in favour of a focus on Athenian democracy, Spartan idiosyncrasies, and the Peloponnesian War. Then they reappear as the dramatic foil for Alexander’s heroic exploits in the Fourth Century. The Seleucids fair even worse, often dealt with only as one of a succession of powers defeated by the Romans on their march to imperial glory. But the privileging of the Greek mainland is hugely problematic for lots of reasons not least the fact that these two empires were the superpowers of their day – it is as though one were to write a history of the 20th Century and focus solely on, say, Cuba, without ever mentioning the United States. So, this module sought to allow students to study the Persian and Seleucid Empires on their own terms.
All of this reflects my firm belief that extending beyond the usual geographic limitations of ancient history courses offers students the opportunity to develop a much broader understanding of the ancient world, which also helps them to appreciate the importance of some of the unique developments in Greece itself. But in order to do this, students need to be able to work with an array of sources produced in Asia itself, rather than rely solely on written accounts produced on the fringes of these empires by men such as Herodotus, Xenophon, and Polybius. Consequently, we looked at a wide range of sources – from inscriptions written in the name of reigning kings to celebrate and to emphasise their power, to the fascinating astronomical diaries from Babylon, which were recorded fastidiously for several centuries – primarily, these diaries are records of astrological observations, but details such as price data from the local market give us a glimpse into life in the city. Coins, civic inscriptions, archaeology, art, and even letters between local officials in Bactria (ancient Afghanistan) also featured. The students were asked to write four critical analyses of 500 words on some of these pieces of evidence over the course of the term – we have selected some of the best responses for publication here to give you an insight into the sort of thing that our students get up to here at Swansea and the things they are capable of achieving. You will find some creative and original thinking in these pieces of work.
Our first piece is a contribution from Aidan Kee, an Ancient History student, who assessed an inscription from the tomb of Darius I as part of his coursework for the module.
The Persians did not produce the sort of written histories that we often use to explore a society. Instead, one of our best ways into examining the topic are a series of royal inscriptions that the Persian kings set up at key places to emphasise their power and to outline their ideology. These inscriptions very much reflect a top-down perspective on the Persian Empire so there are very real questions about how far the claims made in these documents reflect reality, but they can still be revealing. This particular inscription is part of the text that was carved onto the tomb of Darius I at Naqs-i-Rustam, a few miles from Persepolis, the most important city in the empire. (Introduction by Stephen Harrison)
Translation (from: Kuhrt, A., The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources from the Achaemenid Period. Routledge, 2007):
(1) A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this excellent thing which is seen, who created happiness for man, who set wisdom and capability down upon King Darius.
(2a) King Darius/Xerxes says: By the grace of Ahuramazda I am of such a sort, I am a friend of the right, of wrong I am not a friend. It is not my wish that the weak should have harm done him by the strong, nor is it my wish that the strong should have harm done him by the weak.
(2b) The right, that is my desire. To the man who is a follower of the lie I am no friend. I am not hot-tempered. What things develop in my anger, I hold firmly under control by my thinking power. I am firmly ruling over my own impulses.
(2c) The man who is cooperative, according to his cooperation thus I reward him. Who does harm, him according to the harm I punish. It is not my wish that a man should do harm; nor indeed is it my wish that if he does harm he should not be punished.
(2d) What a man says against a man, that does not convince me, until I hear the sworn statements of both.
(2e) What a man does or performs, according to his ability, by that I become satisfied with him, and it is much to my desire, and I am well pleased, and I give much to loyal men.
(2f) Of such a sort are my understanding and my judgment: if what has been done by me you see or hear of, both in in the palace and in the expeditionary camp, this is my capability over will and understanding.
(2g) This indeed my capability: that my body is strong. As a fighter of battles I am a good fighter of battles. When ever with my judgment in a place I determine whether I behold or do not behold an enemy, both with understanding and with judgment, then I think prior to panic, when I see an enemy as when I do not see one.
(2h) I am skilled both in hands and in feet. As a horseman, I am a good horseman. As a bowman, I am a good bowman, both on foot and on horseback. As a spearman, I am a good spearman, both on foot and on horseback.
(2i) These skills that Ahuramazda set down upon me, and which I am strong enough to bear, by the will of Ahuramazda, what was done by me, with these skills I did, which Ahuramazda set down upon me.
(3a) Man, vigorously make you known of what sort I am, and of what sort my skillfulnesses, and of what sort my superiority. Let not that seem false to you, which has been heard by your ears. Listen to what is said to you.
(3b) Man, let that not be made to seem false to you, which has been done by me. That do you behold, which has been inscribed. Let not the laws be disobeyed by you. Let not anyone be untrained in obedience. [The last line is unintelligible]
‘Although […] the Achaemenid History Workshop profoundly transformed our understanding of the Achaemenid empire, members of that group devoted surprisingly little attention to the role of religion.’ So, Lincoln shows, the question of Achaemenid religion is far from answered in scholarship. Therefore, considering the religious aspect of the inscription, it is a useful source of evidence on the subject, especially in relation to Achaemenid kingship. Darius thanks the help that Ahurumazda has given him in his journey to kingship multiple times in the passage. Its placement at the site of Darius’ tomb means that the text is what Darius wishes to be remembered for, clearly revealing the importance of Ahurumazda to his reign.
Zoroaster, a prophet considered active around 1000 BC, allegedly produced the Gāthās setting out ‘a dualistic system in which aša (truth, rightness) is opposed to druj (lie, deceit) with Ahurumazda as the supreme deity.’ Whilst Zoroaster may not have been a historical figure, the rough estimate of when he lived usefully provides us with a rough date for the commencement of the oral tradition conveying the Gāthās. Considering this oral tradition that carried the Gāthās from this time through to Sasanian times, where it was eventually textualized, it stands to reason that it reflected Achaemenid religious ideology in order to survive. Therefore, whilst the Achaemenids may not strictly have been Zoroastrians, it is likely that the Achaemenid Ahurumazda is very similar to its Zoroastrian counterpart. Thus, in the inscription where Darius attributes his ‘wisdom and capability’ to being gifted to him by Ahurumazda, Darius legitimises his reign. Darius has been supported by the protector of aša with skills that make him a good king. Perhaps surprisingly, Darius also presents himself as a judge of aša and druj in the passage, ‘I am a friend of the right, of the wrong I am not a friend’. This idea is also present in the Bisitun inscription, indicating it as an important aspect of his kingship and how he legitimised himself. Therefore, in the inscription Darius aligns himself with Ahurumazda with a subtle hint at his own divinity. However, this is counterbalanced by Darius also presenting himself as a human, subject to aša and druj respectively, ‘I am firmly ruling over my own impulses’. He is clearly below Ahurumazda here, as the Gāthās state ‘look upon the two sides, between which each man must choose for himself.’ Darius clearly is subject to the trials of ‘each man’ demonstrated by his ‘impulses’. This illustrates the caution that Darius had to take when dealing with religion as on one hand it was a useful tool for legitimising his reign, whilst on the other it was vital to simultaneously remain humble and pious. The religious aspect of the inscription is replicated by Xerxes at Persepolis indicating that the way Darius deals with religion in the passage was deemed contemporarily successful. So, the inscription presents us with a useful opportunity to examine how religion was utilised successfully to legitimise the early Achaemenid king’s reigns.
The Temple of Apollo at Corinth with the acropolis in the distance
The Temple of Apollo at Corinth with the acropolis in the distance
Palaestra of Ancient Messene
Palaestra of Ancient Messene
Fortress at Rhamnous
Fortress at Rhamnous
The Lion Gate, Mycenae
The Lion Gate, Mycenae
In this week’s post Jan Doskocil, a third year Ancient History undergraduate, writes about his travels to Greece over the Summer. With the support of his academic mentor, Dr Janja Soldo, Jan applied for a Society of Dilettanti Travel Scholarship to fund this study trip. This is a wonderful opportunity for undergraduate students to apply for funding to support independent travel to classical sites and museums in Greece, Italy or the Eastern Mediterranean. More information about this scheme – and many others that support and encourage exploration of the ancient world – can be found here. Reflecting on the application process, Janja says, ‘When Jan asked me if I would support his application, I was happy to help him with the application letter and to write a reference – his enthusiasm for Greece is contagious and inspiring. I am very glad that he received the scholarship and that he had the opportunity to see the ancient sites, which he learned so much about in his classes, with his own eyes.’
Exploring ancient Greece by Jan Doskocil
Images by Jan Doskocil: The Temple of Hephaestus, Athens; The Temple of Apollo at Corinth with the acropolis in the distance; Palaestra of Ancient Messene; Fortress at Rhamnous; The Lion Gate, Mycenae.
“Awesome! So, this is the place I’ve heard so much about. How could they build that thing?” Such were my thoughts as I visited ancient monuments and wondered which king, hero or famous statesman stood at the same spot thousands of years before me. Although I admit I had to use my imagination quite a lot sometimes, the sites, which some call mere ruins, have still preserved a magical sense of mystery.
First, on my two-week trip around Greece, I explored Pella and Vergina. This area formed the heart of ancient Macedonia. Among the remains of the city of Pella there were elaborated mosaics, and the museum contained a number of fine objects – especially the exhibition of weapons decorated with gold, but what really impressed me was the scenery. Dark green mountains in the distance, red roofs of tiny villages, columns made of white stone, olive trees covering the flat land, and the sea mirroring the azure sky… And after this colourful play I entered the underground museum of Vergina and could observe the royal tombs in near darkness. It is worth visiting for lively frescos depicting mythological stories and hunting scenes, gold crowns imitating a wreath of oak leaves, or armour and weapons that may have belonged to Philip II himself. Further south I was fascinated by the epic view of cloud-covered Mt Olympos, the highest mountain in Greece and seat of the gods.
Next I spent some time wandering around Athens. Imagine you sit under the temple of Hephaestus listening to the sound of cicadas early in the morning, feeling the aura of the place. Then you look up at the Acropolis and can’t believe your eyes. There were tourists everywhere, almost falling over the edges. As I went up, it got very hot. Crowds were pushed into one long queue that moved at a snail’s pace. Guards with whistles were screaming at us: “Quick photos and keep moving! Don’t touch it!” Classical monuments, like isolated islands lost in that turmoil of the modern city, were being attacked by roaring masses of selfie hunters. Still, popularity of the place is a proof that the ancient world with its splendour and staggering megalomania has something to say even today. For those who appreciate more peaceful places, I would recommend Rhamnous, situated near the Marathon battlefield, where you can find the temple of Nemesis and fortress. But it is quite an adventure to get there.
Olympia and Delphi also enjoy extraordinary prestige. To visit both sites, I took serpentine roads in the mountains. Then I walked around the temples of Zeus and Apollo respectively. It had to be amazing to be a spectator of the Panhellenic Games or to ask the oracle for advice. Another impressive places were Mycenae and Tiryns – the Lion Gate, citadels, massive walls composed of huge pieces of rock – frankly, some Cyclops were surely assisting… I chanced to attend Epidaurus theatre festival and watched Euripides’ play Iphigenia in Aulis. The performance took place at the ancient theatre in the open air at night. Even though it was in Greek (with English subtitles), I was drawn in the play, the atmosphere and experience were fabulous.
Sometimes I can’t find enough words to describe everything, or, maybe, I use to many – nothing can compare when you see it for yourself.
Interested in a career in broadcasting, journalism or marketing? Enjoy creative writing and Social media? Want to work with like-minded people to share knowledge about the ancient world to a wider audience?
Look no further! The Department of Classics, Ancient History, and Egyptology is inviting students interested in developing a range of transferable skills to apply for a one of a number of Week of Work (WOW) placements.
The Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology is offering up to four WOW placements to support the department’s web officer with the development and maintenance of the department’s blog, newly launched newsletter and their Twitter and Facebook accounts.
This is a fantastic opportunity to gain employability skills, meet new people, and create web and media content for our department! Ella Thomas (a second year Media and Communication Student) held a WOW placement last year and was a Social Media Assistant to Dr. Ersin Hussein, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology. Ella said the following of her experience:
“I have been responsible managing future contributions to the departmental blog Hieroglyphs, Heroes, and Heretics and I have worked closely with Ersin to create an official annual departmental newsletter. Duties have included emailing staff and students (current and alumni) for contributions to the newsletter’s content and helping in the design and layout of the newsletter. The placement greatly helped me to develop and implement marketing and PR skills that I had been taught on my course, such as managing social media platforms and designing layouts for public facing documents (e.g. leaflets). I have also developed valuable administration skills, such as time management. As a result of my placement I am eligible to gain the SEA award, which will greatly enhance my career prospects after University. The amount of support received from Ersin has been amazing and has greatly enhanced my confidence and belief in my own capabilities. I would recommend undertaking a placement to all students who wish to improve upon their academic and personal skills.”
Good organisational skills and the ability to complete a task to a deadline
Excellent attention to detail and accuracy
The ability to work independently, and to know when and how to seek guidance
Excellent verbal and written communication skills
Good interpersonal skills
A quick learner and able to adapt to change/display flexibility
Est. 04/11/19 – 04/05/20
18 teaching weeks, 1-2 hours per week. Scheduled workshops of 2-3 hours throughout the term.
Application and Closing Date
To apply, please send your CV and covering letter to COAHEmployability@swansea.ac.uk by midnight on Sunday 20th October. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with the employability office (using the email above) or with Dr Ersin Hussein (ersin.hussein@Swansea.ac.uk).
We may have been a little quiet on the blog front last term, but by no means did this mean that we weren’t busy! For example, we saw the completion and launch of the Ancient World on Film project and the successful delivery of new, innovative modules (including handlings sessions in the Egypt Centre and a trip to the British Museum) – you can read about these in the COAH College newsletter here. Towards the end of term, many staff and students delivered papers at The Egypt Centre’s conference ‘Wonderful Things‘, an event that showcased the history of the museum and current research that is taking place there in conjunction with our department. The Egypt Centre Collection Blog is a fantastic read as it regularly features news about its volunteers, the research that our students undertake, collaborative work with the department and the current renovations to its store rooms. All in all it has been an exciting year and the 2019/20 academic year promises to be equally as busy for all staff and students here in the department…
Along with the rest of the university, we are celebrating the Swansea 2020 centenary! This academic year will also see the official launch of OLCAP – our new research group for object and landscape centred approaches to the ancient past. More on this to come! In April, the department will also host the Classical Association conference in April 2020 – a truly international event that draws attention to cutting edge research, innovations in pedagogy across all stages of education provision and pressing issues for our fields of study and work. So watch this space as more information about these events, as well as many others, will be featured on the blog! We also have a number of contributions from our undergraduate and postgraduate researchers to look forward to.
To kick start the year, I draw your attention to the UWICAH postgraduate conference that will take place on 16th November on the theme of Narratives of Power! This conference has been organised by our postgraduate research students and, as you can see below, promises to be a fantastic event. We look forward to seeing you there!
From the organisers:
On the sixteenth of November the Universities of Wales Institute of Classics and Ancient History Postgraduate conference will take place in the Council Chamber and Conference Room 2 in Singleton Abbey. PhD candidates in the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology at Swansea University have this year organized the conference. The topic of this year’s conference will be Narratives of Power, and explores powerful narratives in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Near East. After a successful call for papers, the conference has drawn speakers from across Britain and beyond. The conference will feature twenty-two speakers, from eighteen institutions (including all three UWICAH Universities, Swansea, Cardiff and Trinity St David’s, Lampeter) and run from 09:30-17:30; followed by a roundtable debate and drinks in a nearby pub.
The delegates have interpreted Narratives of Power in a wide variety of ways, and therefore there will be talks on many topics including mythology, material culture, rulers, identity and more. Furthermore, we are thinking of publishing some of the papers from the conference in an edited volume. Food and drinks will be provided for attendees of the conference, and we hope to see as many people as possible from Swansea to support the event. If you are interested in attending, email firstname.lastname@example.org and/or sign up on Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/uwicah-2019-narratives-of-power-tickets-73538673151).
Eventbrite QR code:
Thomas Alexander Husøy, William Clayton, Urska Furlan.
Singleton Abbey, Swansea University, SA2 8PP
Conference Room 2
Rebecca Rusk (Reading): The Rule of Zeus in Hesiod’s Theogony
Thomas Humphrey (UWTSD): Power and Diplomacy in the Amarna Letters: Cypro-Egyptian Relations in the 14th Century BCE
Brian McPhee (North Carolina): Brawn Without Brain? Mythopoetic Trajectories in Heracles’ Teratomachies
Rachael Cornwell (Liverpool): The Power of Change: The Accumulated Impact of Minor Linguistic Changes on the Egyptian Verbal System
Georgina Homer (Open University): Infamous Medea: Power Through Reputation and Infamy
John Rogers (Swansea): “I Made This as an Act of Praise”: Power and Agency in 7th-Century BCE Egyptian Non-Royal Statuary
Gina Bevan (Cardiff): Medusa’s Rape: Lady Gaga and Victimhood
Marwa Abdel Razek (Cairo/Cairo Museum): The Mystery of Female Figurines (Concubines) Represented on Plaques and Beds in the Cairo Museum
Archaic and Classical Greece
Thomas Alexander Husøy (Swansea): Thessaly and the Narrative of Identities in Central Greece
Lonneke Deipeut (Leiden): Horses in Egypt: A Status Symbol or a Status Marker?
Richard Phillips (Birkbeck College, London): Cultural and Political Soft Power in the Ancient Greek World: Paros and Athens
Islam Alwakeel (Ain Shams): Offering of the Field (sḫt) in the Egyptian Temples of the Greco-Roman Period (Edfou-Dendara)
Matt Thompson (Nottingham): Projecting Power By Displaying Nothing? Possible Motivations for the Apparent Refusal of the Spartans to Dedicate Captured Arms
Henry Bohun (UWTSD): Exploring Ptolemy II Within the Narrative of Ancient Egyptian Kingship: Ruler Cult and Material Culture
Ana Garcia Espinosa (Cardiff): Mercenary Armies and Power: The Narrative of Leadership in Xenophon’s Anabasis
Frédéric Rouffet (Paul-Valéry): Title TBC, Egyptian Magic
Conference Room 2
Late Classical Greece
Egyptian and Roman History
Maria Gisella Giannone (Exeter): Narratives of Power By and Within Athens in Isocrates’ On the Peace
Ella McCafferty Wright (Cambridge): The Meroe Bust of Augustus and Narratives of Rebellion
Leon Battista Borsano (Scuola Normale Superiore): Kyrios Estō: Narrative(s) of Power in Late Classical Lycia
Consuelo Martino (St. Andrews): The Last Republican or the First Emperor? Discussing Suetonius’ Divus Iulius and the Political Power of Biographical Writing
Roberta Dainotto (Crete): Building Concepts of Power Through Narrative in Forensic Speeches: The Case of Apollodorus
Domiziana Rossi (Cardiff): Sasanian Kings as Decision-Makers: Reshaping the Ērānshahr
In this week’s blog post Sam Powell reflects upon her volunteering and learning experiences at Swansea’s award winning Egypt Centre. Sam completed a BA Joint Honours in Egyptology and Ancient History at Swansea University in 2006. In 2010 she went on to complete an MA in Archaeology at UCL. Sam then worked at English Heritage/ Historic England and had two children before returning to Swansea in 2017 to study part time for an MA in Egyptian Material Culture.
During my undergraduate degree I enjoyed volunteering at the Egypt Centre. It is an absolutely fantastic resource for students and, as well as being home to over 5000 objects, it provides a great opportunity to volunteer as a gallery assistant and gain real experience of the workings of a museum. The museum opened in 1994 and houses a significant number of artefacts from the collection of Sir Henry Wellcome. The two galleries have a range of objects including coffins, jewellery, furniture and pottery. Unlike a “traditional” museum, there are lots of interactive activities including playing the Egyptian board game senet, a chance to try your hand at mummification (on a dummy-mummy!), and an object handling board, allowing visitors the chance to really examine ancient Egyptian artefacts in great detail.
Given how much I enjoyed my time volunteering at the Egypt Centre as an undergraduate, I was pleased to find out one of the optional modules for my MA was “Reaching the Public: Object Based Learning”. This module was an amazing opportunity to get up close with the objects and learn about the benefits of using artefacts as a medium for teaching. The history of museums, the creation of conservation reports, catering to different audiences, issues of display, and creating information files for objects were topics also covered.
As part of our assessment we were given the opportunity to choose a topic and to present five relevant objects to an audience. It was a brilliant way to actually apply what we had learnt about object based learning. I chose “depictions of childhood” as my theme and was able to research my chosen objects, review their object files, which included information about their provenance and how they came into the collection, as well as investigate similar objects for comparison regarding their function and original owners. Although technically an exam, I thoroughly enjoyed presenting my chosen objects to the three participants for my one hour session. It was fantastic to be able to practise answering questions from an audience and to guide them as they drew their own conclusions about the objects they were handling. My group responded really well to this and it was clear that they enjoyed a sense of ownership over their learning process.
I would highly recommend volunteering at the Egypt Centre, enrolling on a module which enables you to work with collection, or at the very least visit it if you find yourself at Swansea University. Click on the following link to find out more about the Egypt Centre, the volunteering opportunities on offer, and about the active Friends group which hosts monthly evening lectures for those with an interest in ancient Egypt!
This week’s blog is a call for filmmakers interested in working on an exciting new collaborative project between staff and students at Swansea University, local communities. Details below:
The Ancient World on Film is an exciting new collaborative project between staff and students at Swansea University, local communities, and filmmakers. Filmmakers will work with staff and students in the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology to produce a short film (5-10 minutes) about the ancient world which opens up the subject to new audiences. Staff and students will be responsible for writing the script in consultation with local communities so that the films can be targeted effectively at our ideal audiences. However, we hope that filmmakers will embrace this opportunity to mentor our students and help them explore the creative potential of the medium. We are particularly keen to develop new ways of presenting information about the ancient world which go beyond the traditional documentary format and will welcome suggestions from filmmakers about how to do this. The films will be shown at a big launch at the Taliesin theatre in May 2019, where filmmakers and students will have the opportunity to discuss the production process with members of the public and invited guests.
We are producing four films in total and invite pitches from filmmakers to produce one or more of those films. For each film:
You Will Need:
* Demonstrable experience producing short films; ideally you will be able to demonstrate experience delivering a contracted film on schedule and on budget.
* To supply your own filming and editing equipment.
* Public liability insurance.
* To be prepared to undertake a DBS check if necessary.
* Ideally you will have experience producing films as part of a team, and particularly of working with community groups and/or students.
* Ideally you will be available to attend a workshop with members of the local community in late January or early February 2019. Dates will be confirmed after further consultation with all parties involved.
* To consult with students and staff during the script-writing period (February-March 2019). This can be done remotely if necessary.
* To be able to shoot the film in March or early April 2019. Filming is expected to take no more than one day.
* To provide a rough cut of the film for discussion by mid-April 2019.
* To deliver the final film by 30th April 2019.
* To attend a film screening at the Taliesin theatre on the University’s Singleton Park Campus on Monday 13th May from 4.30 to 7.30.
You Will Receive:
* A fee of £1,500 to be paid in two instalments (the first instalment to be paid after filming, the second upon delivery of the final film).
* A budget of £1,000 to make the film.
* 1 film (5-10 minutes in length) shot in Full HD format (1920×1080)
* Delivered as an MP4 file and one copy on a blue-ray disc
* Deadline for completion: 30th April 2019
* You will also be required to discuss a rough cut of the film with students at an appropriate moment in the process, likely in March or April 2019.
We are looking to create exciting, new films about the ancient world and we intend to give filmmakers and students plenty of scope to utilise their creative vision and skills to develop the film. In particular, we want to move beyond the traditional documentary format and find innovative ways to communicate information about the ancient world. For an idea of what we mean by all of this, feel free to have a look at an earlier project led by Dr Harrison.
Send a brief (1 page max) cover letter detailing your experience and including a link to a showreel or equivalent to Dr Stephen Harrison (email@example.com) and Dr Joanne Berry (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 23.59 on 31st December 2018. Shortlisted applicants will be contacted in the first week of January 2019 with a view to further discussion.
We would love to hear from interested filmmakers, so please send informal queries and expressions of interest to Drs Berry and Harrison.
Continuing our celebration of the Egypt Centre this week’s blog post is an edited version of a short piece of coursework originally submitted for the module ‘Egyptian Art and Archaeology’. For this assignment students were required to write an object biography for an exhibit in the Egypt Centre. Our author, Warda Malik, chose object W985 because crocodile mummies were neither something she had significantly come across before in lectures nor extensively read about.
Object W985, exact provenance unknown, is a mummified crocodile and is currently on display in the ‘House of Death’ in the Egypt Centre, Swansea. W985 was initially perceived to be a false mummy as votive animal mummies were often empty or only contained fragmented remains. Votive animals usually died a natural death; however, many were deliberately killed ahead of religious festivals, as could have been the case with W985. It is probable that these mummies were produced at times when there was a shortage of the appropriate animal required. W985 was X-rayed by St James vets in 2008, revealing that the mummy contained the remains of a baby crocodile approximately 18 inches long inside, however, they were commonly placed alongside fully-grown crocodile remains. Some examples of other x-rays undertaken on mummified crocodiles from the same context can be observed in the following images:
The Late Period (664-332BC) witnessed a dramatic rise of animal cults in ancient Egypt and may have been a result of artistic archaizing of the period. Unlike most of the Mediterranean, Egyptians did not regard animals as inferior to humans, and believed that they had a soul. In ancient Egypt, crocodiles were predominantly associated with Sobek ancient Egyptian crocodile deity) who was venerated from the Old Kingdom. His cult increased particularly during the Ptolemaic Period. Crocodiles’ natural habitat was largely the Nile and they were generally considered as the offspring of the annual inundation and acted as a symbol for the Nile’s fertility. Crocodiles tend to transport their young in their mouths to ensure safe travel, and additional baby crocodiles could symbolise a positive nurturing quality of an otherwise dangerous animal. Additionally, sacred animals were identified by their ‘special markings’ which acted as proof of their embodiment of specific gods. Therefore, it is likely that W985 was worshipped as a living incarnation of Sobek during its lifetime.
The most prominent cult centres of Sobek in ancient Egypt were Tebtunis, Kom Ombo and the Fayum region. The excavations of Tebtunis in the 1930’s unearthed many shallow graves, with crocodile remains found buried in the sand. A distinctive style of wrapping the crocodile remains in sheets of papyrus had been adopted and can be dated to the Greco-Roman period due to writing found on recycled papyri. From this, one can conclude that W985 is unlikely to have originated from the site of Tebtunis as it does not bear the characteristic papyrus wrapping found on other contemporary crocodile mummies.
Situated in Lower Egypt, near the Delta region, the area of Kom Ombo gained importance during the Ptolemaic Period due to its access to several trade routes and had a temple dedicated to both Sobek and Horus (Egyptian deity, associated with kingship). Living Crocodiles may have been kept in the vicinity due to the high regard given to Sobek. After its death, the crocodile would have been mummified and buried, achieving the state of immortality. During special religious festivals, mummified animals dedicated to specific deities were taken for procession and later buried in catacombs, sealed until the next celebration. It may be probable that W985 was initially found in such a cache, perhaps near the site of Kom Ombo rather than Tebtunis or the Fayum region as simpler burials of shallow graves were more common in those areas.
This year we’re celebrating the Egypt Centre’s 20th Anniversary! Below are ten fun facts about Egyptology and the collection housed in this award winning museum and educational centre.
An amulet or charm was worn to give the wearer protection or power. Different amulets were connected with different powers. The living wore amulets as jewellery. The dead wore amulets wrapped up in their mummification bandages to protect them. The wealthier you were, the more amulets you had. If you look really close – the detail is incredible!
Did you know that during the Victorian Era, wealthy Victorians would host ‘mummy parties’ as a social occasion? The upper-class Victorians would get together and unwrap a mummy to see how many amulets they could find and they’d be kept as gifts.
The Egyptians had their own numbering system. Here’s what 1 million looks like (a God with praised arms)… and 100,000 (a tadpole)…. And 1000 (lotus flower).
Did you know that during the mummification process, all organs were removed except the heart? Even the brain was pulled out from the nose!
The lungs, stomach, intestines, and liver were dried out and each placed in a canopic jar. The jars came in sets of four, and each of the Four Sons of Horus were assigned the duty of protecting the contents.
A Mummy Mask like this would be placed on the face of the dead. These would be made from a mixture of plaster and bandages, and gilded.
This beaded collar made of faience beads dates from the middle of the New Kingdom c1350BC. The object below may have belonged to an Amarna princess.
Take a look at this brand new VR feature! It brings to life a mysterious wrapped linen package that contains a mummified snake! @DrRichJohnston of @CollegeofEngineering made a 3D print of what the snake would look like.
Hundreds of gods and goddesses were worshipped in ancient Egypt, including this cheeky looking fellow Bes. Bes looked after women, children, and was even a god of music and dancing!
The Egypt Centre has a very full trophy cabinet. This year the centre was awarded The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for voluntary service by groups in the community. This is the equivalent of an MBE!
A popular module that can be taken by second year students (but all year groups are welcome on the study trip component!) is the Ancient and Historical Study Places module. This year, in April, Drs Nigel Pollard and Jo Berry took students to the Bay of Naples. There the students delivered on-site presentations as part of their assessment and visited a range of ancient sites and museums, including Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum and Cumae. In this week’s blog post, Selin Erez reflects upon her memories of the trip.
This Easter, as part of the Ancient and Historical Study Places module, I had the opportunity to visit numerous ancient archaeological sites around the Bay of Naples. The majority of the sites were buried after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. It was so rewarding to be able to visit the places I had heard and read so much about in lectures. As a result of this trip, I fell in love with the Bay of Naples and I definitely want to go back again someday. During the week, we visited twelve archaeological sites, the Naples Museum, and even had time to climb Mount Vesuvius where we all enjoyed a glass of wine at the summit!
Although I enjoyed the entirety of the trip, there were some moments and sites that particularly stood out. Visiting ancient villas outside of city walls, and the opportunity to investigate how wealthy Romans lived in comparison to those living in the smaller domus type houses, was a high point. Villa A at Oplontis, where it is rumoured that Empress Poppaea resided, was particularly informative. Another favourite moment was when I reached the top of Mount Vesuvius and saw the full extent of the Bay of Naples with my own eyes for the very first time. It truly demonstrated the severity of the AD 79 eruption and how far reaching its effects were upon the surrounding towns.
Before the trip to the Bay of Naples, I was already quite intrigued by the Roman town of Baiae, due to its description as a town that is now half underwater. This created a kind of ‘Atlantis-like’ impression for me, adding a sense of mystery due to buildings and statues being submerged! Additionally, it was interesting to hear about the ancient stories of drunken behaviour in Baiae, as it had created a name for itself as a place to escape your problems in Rome. Moreover, the architectural qualities interested me too. The cement domes frequently seen on the tops of buildings in the town demonstrate the development of styles and tastes in certain areas. These cement domes predated the dome on the Roman Pantheon, challenging misconceptions that Rome led the development of certain architectural features in the ancient world.
As a part of this trip, all students were required to prepare a fifteen-minute speech on a chosen site. I chose the theme of Romanisation and the Roman Forum at Paestum. At first I was nervous about standing in front of everyone (our trip was made up of undergraduates, postgraduates, and also lecturers!), but this was easy to overcome as everyone was in the same position and we were given a lot of support from our lecturers. All of the students on the trip reassured and supported one another too. I am actually grateful for this element of the trip because it provided us all with more in-depth learning experience at each site, as each presentation was detailed and entertaining.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this trip and would recommend it to anyone! The sheer number of sites we were able to fit in still surprises me and I felt I was completely immersed in ancient culture all week, whilst simultaneously making lots of new friends across all year groups in our department.