For the past few weeks, we’ve really been talking up a storm about our summer excavation at Ostia Antica and Latin programs. Why? Because we want you to come to Rome and we know you want to. But we realize that getting dirty or speaking colloquial Latin all day may not be your bag. And for the record, those are not the only options if you want to study abroad this summer with us in the Eternal City.
So we’ve ripped off the plastic and are launching the brand new Engaging History: Ancient Rome and Roman Culture, a four-week academic program for undergraduate students with interests in Classics/Classical Civilization, (Ancient) History, Art History, Archaeology/Anthropology, and Religious Studies.
The idea is that the classroom is Rome (and central Italy), living, breathing, outdoor program which examines the origins, development, and material culture of the Eternal City and Roman culture from before Romulus through the present day, concentrating on the roughly 1000 years between the city’s foundation and the Christianization of the empire. Get it? It’s history by grabbing you by the collar and getting you outside and involved. . . engaging.
Sounds intense? Think of it more as interactive. Under expert guidance of instructors with more than 40 years of combined experience in and around Rome, the program focuses on explorative mornings investigating significant areas of the historic, monumental center, including well-known sites such as the Roman Forum, Capitoline and Palatine hills,et al, as well as a series of rarely visited sites such as the Testaccio neighborhood, the Porta Maggiore, and the Sessorium palace.
We turn the tables in the afternoons where individual exploration sessions are based on direct assisgnments requiring personal investigation of the city itself to learn about the transformation of Rome between the Middle Ages and today. With Rome as just the first stepping stone, Engaging History walks out of the city and into the Empire with important and amazing sites outside of Rome including Ostia Antica, Palestrina, and the villa of the emperor Hadrian at Tivoli.
If you would like to learn more, we’d love to hear from you info[at]romanculture.org. And more importantly, we’d love you to join us this summer. To apply to Engaging History: Ancient Rome and Roman Culture, click here.
These basalt paving stones have had plenty of centuries to shift out of place. Inattentive walking can be a contact sport in Ostia Antica, and the blocks of volcanic stone and tree roots usually win. Clunk along the old Roman road in your steel-toed boots and breathe in the warm air that smells like fresh-baked bread and wild mint. Take a break from digging to swig some cool water and pick a few blackberries right off the bush.
Ostia is a wonderful place for field school because you have the entire ancient city to yourself. Duck into a mithraeum or a tomb, read an inscription, ponder an in-situ fresco (and interpret it for yourself), photograph another famous black-and-white mosaic every time you go to work. Getting up early is worth it when you have the pleasure of physical labor and intellectual advancement in an idyllic park outside bustling Rome. This way you get the best of both worlds: all you have to do is shower off the dirt and sunscreen, and you’re ready to enjoy the nightlife and incredible cultural attractions in Rome’s city center.
Ostia is a surprisingly pastoral ghost town of stone, brick, and concrete with hardy vegetation that both adorns and threatens it. The largest excavation campaign was in preparation for the 1942 World’s Fair, but a large chunk of territory both inside and outside the fence remains to be explored. That which has been exposed could do with further documentation and study, and AIRC is doing its part to strike a sustainable balance between uncovering the new and rediscovering the old. We are a staff of extremely passionate people who truly want to help you achieve your professional and academic goals, whether or not they lie within the archaeological discipline. We also hope that your experience of studying in a foreign country enriches you as a person. You will find that having to deal with everyday life in Italy can increase your patience and adaptability.
What can you expect to gain from your time at Ostia?
- A solid grounding in good archaeological methodology
- Several lasting friendships
- A grasp of ancient Roman history and Ostia’s place within it
- An excellent farmer’s tan
- The ability to wield a pick axe with panache
- Improved self-reliance and empowerment
What will you love, probably?
- Living in and getting to know Rome, transport strikes and all
- Working in a peaceful, beautiful environment
- Your trench and trenchmates/all other dig people
- Finding awesome stuff
What will you love, probably…not so much?
- Remembering how to fill out context sheets
- Your turn on finds duty (it’s okay, I love them enough for both of us…)
- Getting up early
- Returning to your home country at the end of your odyssey
~Julia Elsey is a three-peat field school participant, AIRC intern and programs assistant, lightning wit and long-distance friend. She scribed the Saverome blog in Spring and Summer 2011, and is tied with Albert Prieto as the best person for a bit of perspective on Life in the Trenches.
Q & A with Rachel Ash, co-host of our February 29 Latin Tweet Up #LTNL
1. What made you want to learn to speak Latin?
I fell in love with Indiana Jones when I was pretty young–and I knew I wanted to grow up to be him. I have always loved ancient cultures and the idea of unraveling a mystery about a people who lived thousands of years before now; when I was in college, I took Latin to fulfill a requirement for an ancient language in my major. A semester later, Latin was my major. I never looked back.
2. Who is/was your favorite magister?
My favorite would have to be Laura Gibbs, who gave me permission to try to use Latin as a language and make mistakes as I did. She let me explore Latin in a way that made it so much less intimidating than it could be sometimes in other classes and I learned much more quickly in that setting. I am still in contact with her and she is as enthusiastic and inspiring as ever.
3. What is your favorite Latin expression?
As cheesy as it is, I really value “carpe diem,” especially paired with “alea iacta est.” I think that whatever life hands you, “the die is cast” and you have to move forward, so you might as well “seize the day” and make each day as great as you can.
4. What are the benefits to studying Latin in Rome?
Studying Latin in the birthplace of the language would be the most inspirational setting I could imagine. How can you not want to live in Latin when you can see the touch of the Romans all around you?
5. What do you see as the future of colloquial Latin?
I think colloquial Latin is the future. As we learn more about how the mind works, I think it can be no question that experiencing Latin as a language is the only way to truly gain any level of fluency, reading or otherwise. I see the future opening with more avenues for speaking Latin — look at this wonderful thing we’ve found to do with Twitter.
6. Many non-Latin scholars do not see the importance of Latin in the elementary school system. How would you respond?
Firstly, I will say that all elementary students should be given the gift of fluency in a second language, even if it is not Latin. Latin, however, is a language that will awaken connections to all areas of a child’s life, both when he is young and when he is grown. Literature, vocabulary, reading fluency, history, mythology, even math can become easier with a background in Latin due to its deep connection to the English language and its unique structure. Starting your child’s life with Latin will make his educational career easier and his comprehension of his culture and others’ deeper.
Bonus Question: If you could be any classical hero, who would you be and why?
Choosing a hero to be is tough. I’m going to go outside the normal list of heroes and choose Antigone. She meets a very dark end, but she is a really strong character in the Oedipus cycle–supportive of her father through his horrific fortune and a faithful sister who would not let the threat of death stop her from doing what she knew was right. She is a great example to follow (though hopefully not into being buried alive).
~Rachel Ash has been a Latin teacher and an ardent supporter of spoken Latin for nine years. Always looking for ways to support Latin and Latin teachers, Rachel began presenting at local and national conferences by the end of her second year of teaching and continues to do so; she also has served offices in local and national Classics organizations. At current, Rachel is the Chair of the Excellence Through Classics Committee, a committee of the American Classical League dedicated to expanding and creating Classics programs at the elementary and middle school level. Most recently Rachel presented at ACL‘s Annual Institute in Minnesota, where she and another teacher led a TPRS workshop; in March Rachel will be presenting at SCOLT’s regional conference over Asking a Story in Latin. Rachel blogs at Pomegranate Beginnings, teaches North Gwinnett High School and North Gwinnett Middle School.
My first visit to Rome happened in the middle of my very first visit to Italy, in the summer of 1993, when I was a 21-year-old Classics major. I had come to Italy to get my hands dirty with ancient material culture in an archaeological field school in Tuscany, at a small Etruscan-Roman site located on a hilltop between Florence and Siena. On weekends the project directors took us on day-trips to see important archaeological sites and museums of southern Tuscany and northern Lazio.
One weekend, the project’s assistant director offered to lead an optional weekend trip to Rome. Of course, I jumped at the chance to see, finally, the places I had read so much about during 11 years of studying Latin and the Classics, (more…)
Want to know how we ring in a Happy New Year 2012? We get our hands dirty in history and want you to help! For the first time ever, AIRC is offering a second Summer Archaeological Field School to complement its new project at Ostia Antica. We will be teaming up with Rome’s oldest and most prestigious university La Sapienza to offer the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dig in one of the most historic spots in the city, the Palatine Hill.
Location: NE Corner overlooking the Colosseum, along via Sacra between the arches of Titus and Constantine.
History soundbite: The Palatine is where the Romans thought their city was founded, way back in 753 BC. (more…)