Forearmed — or forgotten

“Tomlinson's diploma is expected to chose between 15 to 20 areas of learning, broadly grouped under humanities, arts, sciences, health and social care. Subjects such as Urdu and Arabic, whihch many students think are more relevant to the modern world than learning French will be offered” — 'The Observer', 17/10/04.

Whilst I can see the validity of the argument about the increasing relevance of Urdu and Arabic, I fear that this would be to the added detriment of European languages, whose relevance to this country is also increasing, and, what is of concern to Classicists, to the added detriment of Latin, whose relevance remains undiminished.

Forewarmed is forearmed — or forgotten.

Brian Bishop


Quotes from Oz

On the effect of films about the ancient world:

“They can always come along and get the real story from us later,” says Associate Professor Dexter Hoyos, of Sydney University's Department of Classics and Ancient History. “It's if we don't get them in the first place that we have problems. And so far we haven't had any students coming to us after their first year saying it's not like it was in Gladiator.”

The return of the Olympic Games to Athens, with an ambitious opening ceremony loaded with ancient heroic symbols, transported a global audience back to Greece's golden age and its legacies of democracy and philosophy and culture and myth.

The ceremony's various references would have been especially pertinent for New South Wales' ancient history students, nearly 10,000 of whom will sit their Higher School Certificate exam on November 4. Having overhauled modern history this year, the subject is now threatening to outstrip physics and chemistry in popularity.

Erin Spike is a year 11 student at Baulkham Hills High School, one of the few public schools to also offer Latin. Nearing the end of her first year of ancient history, during which her class put together its own Roman feast and went to see Troy, the 15-year-old is quick to sum up its appeal. “I was really interested to see how people lived in a time so far removed from our lives,” she says. “It is inherently really, really fascinating and no one is dropping it for the HSC.”

Read the whole article.

One of my favourite Iron Age sites on video

I didn't know what to expect, the morning I followed the brown 'heritage' signs to Danebury Iron Age hillfort.

I had just returned from Greece on an overnight flight and was driving west on the A 303 when I realised I was going to fall asleep at the wheel. That was when I spotted the brown sign, and got safely off the main road. It was further from the A303 than I had expected, but when I got there I found Danebury a delight. Mind you, it helped that the weather was warm and sunny. After parking the car I walked across an expanse of grassland up to the hill. The site had been thoroughly excavated under Barry Cunliffe, and was excellently presented. The paths were well maintained, and interpretation boards with reconstruction paintings were just where you needed them.

Now you can see a video, almost 20 minutes long, about Danebury and life in the Iron Age on the Archaeology Channel site. I don't know how long it will be there, so if you think it might be useful in teaching Roman Britain, look at it now. You can buy the video, they say. You choose between 56K (modem) and 300K (broadband). The sound is fine in both versions, but obviously the 56K version is a very small size of picture, and if you watch it on full screen the quality is wretched. The broadband version comes up nicely full-screen. You might even get away with projecting it to show to a class.

Barry Cunliffe and Miranda Aldhouse-Green provide expert comment on the structure of the hill-fort and particularly on the religion and ritual that was integral to daily life. I think it would be useful to fill out the picture of the Celtic society that the Romans found, and changed.

Good for Weymouth and Portland Council!

I was following up a news item mentioned in today's Explorator when I came across Weymouth and Portland Council's page all about the Romans. Cheerfully illustrated, this page lists Roman sites in the area to visit.

The same page of Google came up with the English Heritage
collection of guides for teachers. These are .pdf or .doc versions of printed booklets. There aren't many on Roman sites; many more mediaeval castles and suchlike. But I had a look at Wall and Portchester, and they seemed to be worth inspection, whether you are near enough to visit, or simply want some reconstruction pictures of Roman buildings.