The great Ancient History movies of the last decade have changed popular views of the ancient world. They have altered our visual imagination of antiquity, for good or bad. Some of my favorite transformations include those of Xerxes and Artemisia (now a Gothic child), from 1965 to 2014. I wonder how lasting the Hollywood effect is. It entertains very large audiences, but I don't believe it impacts their ideas about what we do as academics.
The notion that our scholarly agenda continues to be determined by 'dead white males', extinct languages, and eurocentric ideas is still alive. If it's fair to conjecture that decision makers in politics and higher university administrations are in their 50s or 60s today, and if they hold a university degree, then it is likely that the last time that they have heard about Classical Studies in an academic setting was in the 1980s when they obtained their degrees. Not the best days for Classics and Ancient History. We've come a very long way since. Outreach events are key to spreading the news.
Video Interview on Olympic Games
This is scene is awesome, no? But not quite the spirit of the Olympic games in antiquity. Watch my brief video interview on questions you never dared to ask about ancient Olympia. (Click on image to play)
Lost Views. The McCullagh Photo Archive of the Ancient World
The McCullagh Photo Archive documents the travels of Paul F. McCullagh to the worlds of ancient Greece and Persia in the years between 1964 and 1976. Professor McCullagh, who taught at McGill from 1926 to 1988, was a passionate traveler to Classic sites as well as destinations that lay far off the beaten track. Captured on Kodak film, his photographs reveal intriguing views of monuments and sites that were later altered by the impact of tourism, environmental change, urban development, and warfare.
Pauline McCullagh donated the collection to Classical Studies at McGill in 2011. The slides were subsequently cleaned, scanned, and prepared for usage in the public domain under my direction. The full database is accessible through the McGill site, click here. And here are a few samples. Grab what you like. The copyright information is: © The McCullagh Photo Archive, Classical Studies, McGill University.
Alfred Seiland: Imperium Romanum
Modern encounters with antiquity differ vastly in the countries and cultures that occupy the space of the Imperium Romanum. Imagine travelling to all major sites of the Roman world – from Hadrian’s Wall to Sarmizegetusa in Romania, on to the frontier fortresses in the deserts of Arabia and Africa – to capture the rich diversity of the Roman legacy today. This is what Alfred Seiland did. For years, Seiland, award-winning photographer and Professor of Photography, has been indefatigably crisscrossing the Mediterranean world in search of the perfect shot of ancient Rome. Don’t get me wrong: his work is free from postcard postures and Classics kitsch. Seiland’s project started from a piece of commissioned work for the New York Times Magazine, when he was asked to document the principal filming of HBO’s Rome Series. The encounter was so intense that it sent Seiland on an extraordinary journey through time and space. His photography is the most comprehensive photographic documentation of what Rome was, and the space it occupies in different societies today.
So far, two volumes of Opus Extractum have been published. I have been fortunate enough to have served as consultant and to have contributed a series of captions, along with graduate student Meghan Poplacean. Here are a few samples of Seiland's work: