This project aims to teach students the number of ways in which one can access material evidence, in terms of excavating, publishing, displaying and addressing a wider audience about the role of cultural heritage. One thing we cannot do in a lecture of 100 is pass around a single object and evaluate it within an original context and/or a collection, nor can we consider how to use, promote or display an object, to a broader audience. By examining two different sites (Chedworth Roman villa and the Corinium museum) we can explore variations in the evidence as well as different methodologies in the study, curation, and presentation of cultural heritage, illustrating the numerous different ways in which one can interact and teach with ancient evidence. This is a crucial transferable skill with direct applicability across a number of sectors including marketing and education. The project, which also connects the museum with ongoing initiatives in the academic world, will develop positive working relationships and pathways for future collaborative possibilities. Through collaboration with local sites we hope to foster further relationships between our institution (and our students) and these sites (as well as scholars) in the field of cultural heritage.
Students in Roman Culture and Society (our first-year core module including join degree students from Philosophy and Italian) come from a number of different backgrounds with separate skill sets. Some have taken A levels in Classical subjects; others start with no prior knowledge, whilst others again come to us from other departments on joint degrees. The two sites allow direct interaction and analysis of materials on a number of levels; from in situ evidence, blogs of excavation reports, analysis of domestic space and functionality (at Chedworth), to recording and presenting materials at a museum and in a virtual environment (at Corinium museum). The collaboration with two very successful institutions will employ traditional as well as more modern didactic methods (such as blogs and apps), allowing the students an opportunity to understand and evaluate and use the latest techniques in teaching. Students will have the opportunity for hands-on interpretation either via video presentations (filmed at Chedworth) or in an interactive project with the Corinium museum, where we will examine the presentation of objects in a museum collection and on virtual media. The collaborative project at the Corinium museum, in which students will assess recording, displaying and teaching an object, will be presented at the museum and could then be published on an international portal for inscriptions (EAGLE, the Electronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy) with whom our department is affiliated through a number of projects including Alison Cooley’s publication of inscriptions at the Ashmolean Museum, my Postgraduate course in Epigraphy at the British School in Rome, as well as our department, which is currently involved in an ERC funding bid with EAGLE exploring the role of inscriptions in education. Another option is synergy with the new departmental of classics web portal, funded by the Warwick Impact Fund, which Michael Scott is creating this year.
The EAGLE website, to which we will be sending photographs, has developed a new app in which a person can take a picture of an inscription (from anywhere) and send it to the database. The app will then provide a history, translation and commentary of the inscription. Students will have the practical experience of using time-tested methods (photography, drawings, archives) as well as working with innovative and emerging techniques of ongoing research projects and collections. Working with the university and the museum, our students can participate in an exciting international collaborative project, whilst also developing an understanding of cultural heritage.
The legacy of this project will be an understanding of cultural heritage as well as an exposure to a number of techniques in didactic practice. If the project goes well, I imagine we could set up a yearly collaboration, perhaps with a broader scope of museums and sites to expand the university’s relationship and contribution to broader learning (and particularly, to new techniques).