This week, Exeter Classics and Ancient History students from the Greek Mythology and Late Antiquity modules went to the British Museum on their first academic outing of the year, led by Professor John Wilkins and Dr Richard Flower. The day began with a private tour of the frieze of the temple of Bassai, something eagerly anticipated by all students in attendance. We were extremely privileged to have an object handling session, examining some of the British Museum’s finest artifacts up close. This was an invaluable experience, which served not only to enhance topics covered in lectures and seminars, but also to further our appreciation of our courses. This session was followed by a tour of the Roman Britain gallery by Dr Richard Flower, looking at examples of Christian and Pagan iconography in the collection. The day concluded with a tour of the Parthenon gallery by Professor John Wilkins, who drew our attention to key aspects of imagery on the Parthenon frieze, such as the depiction of humans and gods together. Here are some testimonials from students!
I thought the day was definitely useful as it gave us the opportunity to see the some of the things that have been described so much in class! The morning session was a highlight because Peter Biggs really brought the frieze to life. The artifact handling was a new and enjoyable experience too.
Hershil Kotak, 3rd Year Classics, SSLC Co-Subject Chair 2014-15
Being able to physically handle bronze age artifacts was a real privilege and really helps to give you an idea of just how old these items are…as well as an intense fear of breaking something!
Fred Morton, 3rd Year Classics
I think my favourite part of the experience was learning about the frieze from the temple of Apollo at Bassae. The tour-guide brought the sculptures to life in a way I have never seen them before, and I could imagine myself inside the ferocious battle scenes he was describing: the Centauromachy at the wedding feast of king Perithous. He also related the frieze to Pheidian sculpture of the late 5th century, and explained how the figures had become more ‘life-like’ and experimental. This was really useful.
Jack West-Sherring, 2nd Year Ancient History, Classics Society Department Liaison Officer 2014-15
The whole day was absolutely fantastic! Visiting a museum and seeing their collections is always wonderful, but to be guided through an artifact of exhibition by an expert is even better! I particularly enjoyed the tour of the Roman Britain gallery, as we got to look in great depth at collections such as the Mildenhall Treasure, which has fascinated me since I was a child. My favourite part of the day was definitely the object handling session, as we were able to look at (and hold!) an incredible range of Late Antique objects, including wedding rings, an earring (with ear still attached), and some really beautiful items from the Esquiline Treasure, including the wonderful Projecta Casket!
Elaine Sanderson, 3rd Year Classics, Classics Society President 2014-15
If you would like to see some of the things we saw, please follow the links below!