All presentations will be offered remotely this year, but you can choose from a live “in-person” presentation or a pre-recorded presentation tailored to your group. All presentations can be modified to meet your own interests, age group, and time limit. When you see a topic that sounds good, please fill out our online presentation order form with your preferred dates, topics, and method of delivery. UC’s semester system means that we will have presenters available from now through early May 2021.
Featured: Presentations suitable for STEM Classes (and everyone else!)
PLAGUES AND PANDEMICS [New!]
Sarah Beal, Christine Wong, or Brent Arehart, Graduate Students
We are currently living in a global pandemic, but pandemics are nothing new. This presentation explores the evidence for ancient diseases and how people responded to them. We will look at the descriptions of pandemics written by eyewitnesses and compare them to osteoarcheological remains (ancient skeletons!) to see how scholars can study the effects of pandemics within different societies.
HOW ERATOSTHENES MEASURED THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF THE EARTH [New!]
Austin Hattori, Ph.D. Student
How do you measure the size of Earth without satellite technology or circling the globe yourself? More than 2,200 years ago, the philosopher/scientist Eratosthenes did just that. This presentation discusses Eratosthenes' method of calculation of Earth's circumference as well as his life and times, and students will gain not only insight into Eratosthenes' discovery but also the scientific and mathematical developments connected to the famed Library of Alexandria. Versions of this presentation geared to either middle or high school audiences are available.
SICK DAY! HOW TO SURVIVE AN ANCIENT FEVER [New!]
Christine Wong, M.A. Student
You wake up and have a fever. What do you do? This presentation follows an ancient Greek as he travels from doctors to healing sanctuaries to find a cure. We will explore ancient remedies to common diseases and examine the archaeological remains of medical practices. This presentation is an interactive choose your own adventure!
ANCIENT STORIES IN THE STARS [New!]
Luiza dos Santos Souza, PhD Student
Human curiosity about the stars has existed for a very long time. The era of space exploration--the race to the Moon, sci-fi series, and the search for life on Mars--in fact, started millennia ago with the attentive observation of the heavenly bodies. Many stories from Greek Mythology deal with the existence of constellations which frequently memorialize heroes, heroines, and creatures in the sky. In this presentation we will discuss some of these stories, learn about the Zodiac constellations and the movements of the stars, and explore how the setting and rising of some stars was essential to the daily lives of the Ancient Greeks, from farming to sea voyages.
MIND YOUR HUMORS: HOW ANCIENT MEDICINE BECAME MODERN [New!]
Brent Arehart, Ph.D. student
Everybody has heard of Hippocrates and his famous oath, which doctors to this day still swear by in one form or another. But what kind of medicine did Hippocrates actually practice, and how does it compare to our medicine? In this talk, we will explore some of the major ideas that the Greeks and Romans had about health. While many of these ideas seem ridiculous today, they remained influential for centuries. Even up until the 1800s, the system of Western medicine was still widely based on the writings of Hippocrates and his most famous fan, Galen. By investigating how two men that got it so wrong were believed to be right for so long, we can learn an important lesson about the relationship between humanity and science.
ANCIENT CURSES AND MAGICAL MALADIES [New!]
Christine Wong, M.A. Student
Ancient Greeks and Romans often turned to magic to solve their everyday problems. From curse tablets and voodoo dolls to herbal remedies and incantations, magic provides an insight into the ancient understandings of the natural world. In this presentation, we will explore how ancient magic worked, what it was used for, and how it was perceived.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SCIENCE IN ACTION
Anna Belza, Ph.D. Student
Did you know that archaeology is described as a science? Archaeologists today are required to use social sciences, environmental sciences, mathematics, and humanities to understand the ways that peopled lived in the past, to conduct archaeological investigations, and to interpret the material we uncover. In recent years, archaeologists have begun to employ modern technologies and science more than ever before. In this outreach presentation, your audience will learn about how these methods are applied to Old World (Mediterranean) and New World (South American) archaeological expeditions to best uncover the past. We will cover various topics such as: remote sensing methods like Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) which are used to locate urban centers in the Mayan plains and archaeological remains at ancient Greek sites; Portable X-ray Fluorescence (PXRF) which can be used remotely to identify the chemical make-up of an artifact (like silver cups from a warrior’s grave!); Radiocarbon dating which is used to reconstruct diet and ancient environments (what did ancient Greeks eat?); and organic residue analysis which allows archaeologists to understand what the ancients ate and drank. This outreach is suited to all age-ranges and audience levels and can be tailored by request.
Also new this year is a presentation on the birth of ancient Greek Democracy suitable for a Civics or American History curriculum (and everyone!).
DEMOCRACY THROUGH THE EYES OF A WOMAN: ASPASIA IN ANCIENT ATHENS[New!]
Cecilia Cozzi, Ph.D. student
We take democracy for granted today, but we do not often realize that it was first born as a groundbreaking experiment in ancient Greece! More than two thousand years ago Athens, Greece witnessed the birth of a new society, where freedom of speech and equality before the law were more important than noble ancestry and wealth—at least for some. Notably, the first democracy did not allow women, slaves, or foreigners living in Athens to vote. We will venture through the streets of this colorful and dynamic city with a special companion, Aspasia, guiding us. Aspasia is a real historical figure, born in what is now Turkey. As a woman and a foreigner, she challenges the narrow minds of the all-male democratic government. Through her eyes we will witness the power of freedom of speech through the subtle political criticism of ancient Greek plays and through sparkling debates with exceptional personalities, such as Socrates. Join this amazing journey back in time to discover the first democracy at work. Aspasia will demonstrate that there is more to Athens than its immaculate white marbles.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO FOUNTAIN SQUARE: ROME AND THE ROOTS OF THE MODERN CITY
Maura Brennan or Jeff Banks, Ph.D. Students
If an ancient Roman traveled to modern-day Cincinnati, what would he or she think? Certainly the technology would be shocking, but in many ways, both cities have much in common. Indeed, modern cities trace their roots back to the ancient Greek "polis" and the Roman "civitas," including governmental structures and entertainment facilities. With Rome and Cincinnati, however, the similarities are all the more striking. Let's take a walk along the Ohio and Tiber rivers, comparing the many buildings in terms of their architecture, arrangement and the different functions they play (for example: the Colosseum and Paul Brown Stadium!). We will discover how alike the modern city and its citizens are to the ancient civitas.
Note: this presentation includes some discussion of the FOUNDING FATHERS, their connection to Greece and Rome, and to Cincinnati. Educators interested in a Founding Fathers based presentation can request a modified version of the presentation that focuses more on this aspect of the presentation.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT: MAN OF GLORY
Tiziano Boggio, Ph.D. Student
He was tutored by the great philosopher Aristotle. He won his first battle at age 18 and became king at 20. He attacked and conquered the greatest empire known to ancient Greeks. He reached the borders of India with his army. All this before dying suddenly and mysteriously when only 33 years old. This and more is what made Alexander of Macedon one of the most famous characters in history. His life and deeds were recorded by Greek and Roman historians, and entered the tradition of many other people. Let’s embark on a trip to discover more about a man who single-handedly changed the course of history, and marked the beginning of a new era for the Greek world. We will learn more about his conquest of the East and the effects that this had. On the road, we will uncover some of the mysteries of this “Great” leader, while also observing what we still have in common with Alexander himself.
AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!: A DAY AT THE GLADIATORIAL GAMES
Jeff Banks, Allie Pohler, Luiza dos Santos Souza, or Rebecca Kerns, Nora Madrigal, Ph.D. Students
We’ve all seen Hollywood’s depictions of gladiatorial combat, but what was a day at the games really like? Through the eyes of the Roman citizen Marcus, you’ll experience the full program of events at the spectacle that defined the Roman Empire and literally set the stage for many of today’s entertainments, including mixed-martial arts events and Spanish bullfights. Enjoy the history of the Colosseum, the greatest amphitheater of the Roman world, and watch as the action pits man against beast in the venationes. Hear about the training of the fighters, learn to tell the difference between types of gladiators based on their armor, and cheer on your favorite fighter in a final battle as an experienced retiarius attempts to win his freedom. Finally, exiting the amphitheater, you will discover the true meaning of what the Romans referred to as a vomitorium!
THE WORLD OF WOMEN IN HOMER’S ODYSSEY
Cecilia Cozzi, Ph.D. Student
Homer’s Odyssey has fascinated audiences for thousands of years thanks to the incredible and captivating adventures of its main character, Odysseus. But Homer’s world is populated with fascinating women at every stage of the hero’s troubled journey. This presentation will take us into the world of four mythological women, all different from one another, yet all crucial to Odysseus’ tale: Calypso, the powerful, loving nymph; Nausicaa, a young girl growing up; Circe, the enigmatic witch; and Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, his perfect match in skill and cunning. Together we will explore the world of these mythological women. What powers do women have in a man’s world? How do they contribute crucially to a heroic quest? We’ll answer these and other questions as we turn the spotlight on Odysseus’ fabulous female companions. (This presentation can be tailored to coincide with a unit on the Homeric poems or so that outside knowledge of the Odyssey is not necessary.)
DIGGING UP HOMER
Anna Belza, Ph.D. Student
Did the Trojan War really happen? This presentation is designed to give the audience an introduction to the archaeological evidence for one of the most gripping stories of the ancient world, Homer’s Iliad. Discussion focuses on archaeological excavations at Bronze Age palaces in Greece including those of Agamemnon and Nestor at Mycenae and Pylos, and from the citadel at Troy. Different forms of archaeological evidence including ceramics, fortifications, weapons, wall paintings, bones, and bathtubs paint a varied and dynamic picture of an ancient way of life. But is this enough to prove Homer’s tale? To answer this tantalizing question, this presentation looks at the problems involved when Homer and archaeology are brought together and what archaeologists are doing to figure out the best ways to determine if “X” truly marks the spot.
HISTORY’S LIES: FAKE NEWS AND ‘COVER-UPS’ IN ROMAN HISTORY
Austin Hattori, Ph.D. Students
Ancient Romans, just like many modern civilizations, had unsavory elements in their history. Wars, deaths, and transitions of power happened frequently but sometimes, these events had aspects that made the Roman people uncomfortable. In this presentation, we will discuss events in the Roman past and the different ways Roman writers talked about the unseemly aspects of their own history. What do these moments of discomfort show us about the Roman people? Does it matter if they lied about their history, or pretended certain events happened in different ways to make themselves sound better? We’ll consider these and other questions as we explore examples in Roman history that the Romans, great conquerors of the world and our cultural ancestors, preferred to forget.
THE ROMAN ARMY: THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU THE ROMAN EMPIRE
Allessandro Battaglia, Ph.D. Student
Everyone knows the Roman army was a powerful military force, but did you know it did much more than fight wars? It developed the road network that tied the empire together, brought men from around the Mediterranean to defend the borders, and took Rome from a village on the banks of a modest Italian river to unrivaled mastery. Along the way, it brought fame and power to Cincinnatus, Julius Caesar, and Constantine—to name just a few! This talk will explore the life and times of the Roman army—how it fought, what it looked like, and what its soldiers were up to when they weren’t at war. You’ll get a sense of the wealth of surviving evidence: from literature and fine sculpture to the letters soldiers wrote, the shoes they wore, and the tombstones they designed for themselves.
CINCINNATI IN THE AEGEAN: GREEK ARTIFACTS IN CINCINNATI
Jeff Banks or Anna Belza, Ph.D. Students
Did you know that archaeologists from Cincinnati have been digging in the lands around the Mediterranean since the 1920s? Using objects from the departmental Classics Study Collection, this talk presents the history of Greek archaeology at the University of Cincinnati. In particular, the great characters of Cincinnati Classical archaeology - Carl Blegen, Jack Caskey, Marion Rawson - and their amazing discoveries about the prehistory of the Aegean Sea region are presented alongside some of the objects found on their digs. Together with these pioneers, we will explore the sites at Troy, Pylos and many others.
HEROES: FATHERS AND SONS [New!]
Cecilia Cozzi, Ph.D. student
Greek mythology features a gallery of heroes: ambitious men, searching for glory and eager to prove their worth by undertaking challenges. They remind us of comic book superheroes, but they are extremely different. When we think of heroes, we imagine individuals selflessly devoting themselves to the common good, by protecting humanity against its bitter enemies. Instead, Ancient heroes dealt with another, internal struggle: they need to forge their own path, but also continue the good reputation of their family. Each hero starts as someone’s son, but will then himself become a father projecting on his offspring the same, heroic aspirations he entertained as a kid. The relationship between fathers and sons appears often in Greek plays, where ancient myth is the perfect medium for society to address its deepest concerns. We will follow the stories of three famous ancient heroes who participated in the Trojan war: Ajax, Achilles, and Agamemnon. Their sons are left with open questions and no easy answers: how to succeed under the shadow of a famous father? As any son in real life, they are at a crossroads, looking to their noble past but also glancing towards their unknown future. After all, myth is not as distant as one could think.
POMPEII: LIFE FROM THE ASHES
Michelle Lessard, Ph.D. Student
Walk with ancient Romans! This presentation will take students on a behind-the-scenes tour of Pompeii, a Roman city buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Tour stops will include the town forum, an elite house, a “fast food joint,” the theatre district, the amphitheater, and the cemeteries outside the city walls. And did you know that Cincinnati has been digging up Pompeii for over a decade? In fact it’s the largest area of Pompeii to be excavated in the past 200 years! We’ll show you what we’ve been discovering and learning about an entire neighborhood of the city.
SHERD NERDS: HOW BROKEN POTS TEACH US ABOUT ANCIENT LIFE
Sarah Beal, Ph.D. Student
When you open your kitchen cupboard, what do you see? What would an archaeologist find 2000 years in the future? The majority of artifacts that archaeologists discover are broken pieces of cups and bowls, just like the ones in your cupboards. But how do archaeologists study these broken pieces? Together, we will learn how ancient Greeks and Romans made, moved, and used pottery. We will discuss how archaeologists dig up this material, study it, and use it to learn about various aspects of the ancient world, from trade routes to how people ate and drank. Find out what pottery can tell us about people who lived 2000 years ago!
PASSION, MADNESS AND LOVE: WOMEN IN ANCIENT MYTH
Cecilia Cozzi, Ph.D. Student
We usually associate Greek mythology with the astonishing exploits of heroes, such as Achilles, Jason, or Hercules. What about the women? Greek society often left them in the background, in a secondary position as wives and daughters. But the women of mythology are a different story. They seize active roles and receive a prominence that women seldom experienced in real life. However, by doing this, they go against one of their most important obligations: live quietly and stay inside the house. Through this presentation, we will focus on three women whose strong agency and determination mark them out as sinister to the Greek imagination and yet somewhat heroic to ours. Medea, the sorcerer who left her homeland because of love; Antigone, the girl who sacrificed herself on behalf of her family; and Phaedra, the woman who died because of an insane passion. Together we will explore the stories of these women and investigate what they can tell us about being a woman in Ancient Greece in a man’s world.
ANCIENT VILLAGERS AND CITY SLICKERS
Sarah Beal, Ph.D. Student
What was it like to live in the past? This presentation brings to life the space and everyday activities of ancient farmers and urbanites. How did an ancient farm work and what kind of jobs did farmers do every day? How can we get at the sights and sounds of living in an ancient city like Athens or Rome, and what did city dwellers do to make a living? We will see how archaeologists use the trash of the past to answer these questions. This presentation will step into ancient farmhouses and giant apartment buildings. The secrets of good shepherding and the sales tricks of urban shopkeepers will be revealed. But it won't be all hard work, because the ancients knew how to have fun too!
WHAT DO ARCHAEOLOGISTS DO, ANYWAY?
Shelby Raynor or Charlie Kocurek, Ph.D. Students
This presentation explores the work of archaeologists and our place in society. The word “archaeologist” usually brings up images of Indiana Jones, treasure-hunting, or reanimated mummies. Real archaeology is not usually so Hollywood-friendly, but the field is full of both dangers and rewards. We will first discuss the goals of archaeology and how this discipline has contributed to our understanding of human history. We will then consider exactly what archaeologists do, including excavation, laboratory work, and experiments. We will look at a typical day on an excavation, including work, meals, accommodations, and recreation. Finally we will explore the role of archaeologists as advocates for the protection of our past.
ANCIENT ARTIFACTS FROM THE UC CLASSICS STUDY COLLECTION
Maura Brennan or Carol Hershenson, Ph.D. student and Curator of the Classics Study Collection
The UC Classics department owns an array of ancient artifacts, and in this virtual presentation we will use the objects to discuss what they can tell us about ancient life. We’ll consider the full life of the object, including its creation utilizing local resources, its function—both practical and symbolic, and its afterlife (how did it get to Cincinnati?). Although virtual, this presentation will allow participants to see 3000 year old objects up close and personal.