NEW: March/April 2021 series announced!
The Armchair Traveller is the title of our occasional online lecture series with talks themed around the places we visit. The talks take place in an informal online setting and are intended to amplify your understanding of the landscapes we travel through. To subscribe to the lectures sign up using the form below.
March/April 2021: Archaeological Tales
These talks will recreate the excitement, intrigue, and problems of the discovery of five great archaeological sites, all of which figure in our tours. Our lecturer will be Jeremy Paterson.
Jeremy Paterson was until retirement Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at Newcastle University. He studied at Oxford, where he was President of the Oxford University Archaeological Society, and then went out to Rome as a Research Fellow to study the ancient wine trade. He has lectured to groups and tours throughout the Mediterranean world.
- Lectures will be at 4:30pm UK time.
- Lectures will be delivered online via Zoom to view in the comfort of your own home.
- Each lecture will last about 45 minutes and there will time to ask questions at the end of each.
- Attendance of the lectures is via subscription, the cost of which is a one-off fee of £25 payable in advance, either by bank transfer or debit card. (There is a £5 transaction fee if you are outside Europe and prefer to pay by credit card)
- On sign up you will receive an electronic invoice by return to enable to pay your subscription.
- Once you have signed up and paid your subscription you can attend as many or as few of the lectures you like.
- Subscribers will be sent a joining code on the day before each lecture allowing them to sign in and attend.
- To sign up, please complete the form below (only one submission per household is necessary – no need to submit for each viewer!):
|Tue 16th March||The Man Who Almost Discovered Troy: Frank Calvert, Heinrich Schliemann, and the Search for Homer’s Troy.|
|Tue 23rd March||John Turtle Wood and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus|
|Tue 30th March||Paestum and the Architecture of the Greek Revival|
|Tue 6th April||The Strange Mystery of the Body in the Tomb: Vergina and the Tomb of Philip, Alexander the Great’s Father|
|Tue 13th April||Losing One’s Marbles: Lord Elgin and the Marbles of the Parthenon in Athens.|
|Speaker for all lectures: |
Jeremy Paterson, retired Senior lecturer from the University of Newcastle
Week 1: The Man Who Almost Discovered Troy: Frank Calvert, Heinrich Schliemann, and the Search for Homer’s Troy.
The search for the Troy of Homer’s great poem, the Iliad, has fascinated people from antiquity to the present. The discovery of the site near the Dardanelle straits in North West Turkey is forever associated with the name of Heinrich Schliemann, millionaire and brilliant self-publicist. But a vital, but often neglected, role was played by Frank Calvert, 19th century businessman and landowner in the region. He was also a brilliant local archaeologist and with his own excavations came within a few feet of discovering the walls of Troy. It is a tale of intrigue and scandal. We will also explore the site of Troy after the recent modern excavations and restoration.
Week 2: John Turtle Wood and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
In this talk we will walk through the excavations of one of the greatest cities of the Classical world. We will look at the career of another unsung hero of archaeology. In the mid-19th century John Turtle Wood, an architect, came out to Western Turkey to design the railway stations on the Smyrna to Aydin line. While he was at Selcuk he realized that he was close to the site of Ephesus. He was excited by the story in Acts of the Apostles of the riot against St Paul in the theatre of Ephesus, which was led by the silversmiths of the great Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Wood set about trying to find the Great Temple. He wrote up his eventually successful search in Discoveries at Ephesus, one of the most engaging accounts of archaeological excavation ever written. We will hear tales of bandits, kidnappings, even murder, not to mention the intervention of a clairvoyant, and the troubles of dealing with American tourists.
Week 3: Paestum and the Architecture of the Greek Revival
When visitors to Italy on the Grand Tour in the 18th century ventured south of Naples, they came upon the astonishing line of temples at Paestum, the site of the Greek colony of Poseidonia. For nearly all of the tourists, this was their first encounter with pure Classical Greek architecture. The temples had a great impact on scholars like Goethe, and led to the replacement of Renaissance styles with Classical revivals in the buildings designed by architects such as James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and Sir John Soane. We will examine the drawings of the temples of Paestum made by Piranesi in 1777, which were the basis of his last, and finest, series of etchings.
Week 4: The Strange Mystery of the Body in the Tomb: Vergina and the Tomb of Philip, Alexander the Great’s Father
To the west of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki lies the site of Vergina. Excavations in the 1960s revealed a palace, which was then identified as ancient Aigai, the original capital of the Macedonian kingdom. The great Greek archaeologist, Manolis Andronikos, uncovered a theatre, which was the site of the assassination in 336 BCE of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Nearby there is a great tumulus. In the 1960s Andronikos dug part of it without significant finds; but when in 1977 he returned to the site he hit gold. The tumulus covered two grand painted tombs. One produced a hoard of stunning gold, silver, and ivory objects, and a gold box which held the cremated remains of a man. We will turn detectives to find the clues about the identity of the deceased and the real possibility that what Andronikos had uncovered was the tomb of Philip II himself. After the end of the excavation the tumulus was recreated. Inside it was established a most remarkable museum display which enables us to visit the tombs themselves and examine the breath-taking array of grave goods where they were found.
Week 5: Losing One’s Marbles: Lord Elgin and the Marbles of the Parthenon in Athens.
This final talk is at heart the tragic story of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, a man brought low by his love of the Classical past. We will visit the Acropolis of Athens to uncover the history of the Parthenon: first a temple to Athena, subsequently a Christian church, a mosque, and an ammunition dump. Lord Elgin, appointed British ambassador to Constantinople at the end of the 18th century, commissioned a team to draw, make casts, and collect the sculptured friezes of the Parthenon, which had been partly destroyed in an explosion in 1647. Elgin’s collection of sculpture eventually arrived back in London, not without adventures on the way. In a failed attempt to recoup the money he had expended, Elgin sold the marbles to the British government. Eventually they were placed in the British Museum, where they remain among the most visited displays. Controversy surrounded Elgin and the marbles from the start. Byron was apoplectic, though Keats was enchanted. In the 20th century Melina Mercouri, Greek film star and highly effective Minister of Culture, led the demand for their restoration to Greece. The New Acropolis Museum in Athens, one of the world’s greatest museums, opened in 2009, has space left specifically for the marbles. We will debate the legal, cultural, and moral arguments which continue about the future of these great works of art.
Reviews of our previous lectures:
You can also view some of our past lectures on Youtube: