Plato, the Forms and Fictional Worlds

We had a very mind-bending lesson this week, where we had our first taste of Ancient Greek philosophy! Last week, we saw how the Athenians had the first known democracy – a direct democracy where everyone who was entitled to do so, voted on all issues. We contrasted this with our own representational democracy today….

The Power of the Vote

In the last two lessons we have been exploring one of the most important and exciting ancient Greek inventions: democracy. We looked at the two ancient Greek words which give us the word democracy – “demos” meaning “people” and “kratos” meaning “power”. We discussed how before the Greeks introduced democracy, cities were ruled by “archons”,…

Empedocles and a Klepsydra

In today’s lesson, we started with two ancient Greek words, “κλέπτω” and “ῠ̔́δωρ“. I asked you to transliterate them and then we talked about what they might mean. You were quick to guess the first, “I steal”, and link it to ‘kleptomaniac’, and some of you spotted the similarity to ‘hydrate’ for “ῠ̔́δωρ“, leading to…

Introducing the Presocratics

We started back this term on a completely new module! After some warm-up Latin verbs and nouns, I explained that we were leaving behind the Trojan War and Dark Ages, and skipping forward in time to around the sixth century BC. Around this time, a group of early thinkers, known as the Presocratics, emerged, and…

Bakeries and Snack Bars: Exploring Businesses in Pompeii

In this week’s lesson, I started by showing you Oxford’s Westgate, before showing you the Pompeian equivalent! We saw how the shop fronts opened to the main thoroughfare, and their entrances were often combined with entrances to living accommodation too. A good example of this was the “Pistrinum of Sotericus”. This was one of thirty-three…

Vesuvius: An Eye-Witness Account

In this week’s lesson, we explored the details of the eruption of Vesuvius on 24th and 25th August, 79 AD through the eyes of Pliny the Younger, who left us a very detailed and vivid eye-witness account. This account has enabled archaeologists and scientists to better understand both this particular eruption and many others. We…

A Shark in a Roof and a Poet on a Wall: Interpreting the Past

In our lesson this week, we started by looking at some photographs of modern day Oxford, and asking you what you thought an archaeologist from the future might make of them? We all know that one picture shows tourists taking a group photograph, and that another shows the university traditions of graduating and celebrating a…

What’s in the Jars?

For our next lesson, we looked at an area of the Palace at Knossos which appeared on the site map as lots of very long, very narrow rooms. There were various interesting guesses from the groups about what these rooms might be for. Suggestions included a gallery or slave rooms. In fact, these were storage…

Piecing Together the Palace

In this week’s lessons, we have been exploring the challenges of reconstructing the past from fragments of archaeological evidence. We looked at some of the striking reconstructions of the palace at Knossos which Sir Arthur Evans undertook; these have been a big part of what has made visiting and viewing the ancient site so alluring…