It’s a question we have always been asking: what was life like in the ancient world? But just as interesting and important is a slightly different one: how have we, over the past centuries, chosen to examine and answer that question? This lecture will focus on the changing attitudes to telling the story of the ancient past, and particularly the weird and wonderful world of ancient Greece. It will investigate the questions we have asked, the ways in which we have gone about answering them, and the resulting pictures of life in the ancient Greek world that we have created, from the first characterizations of ancient Greece by the Romans to the latest cutting-edge 21st century scholarship. In a year when the Olympics come to Britain, and our minds turn inescapably towards the connection between the ancient Greek world and our own, there is no more important time to think about just how we know what life was like in the ancient world. By telling such a story, and by demonstrating how we are always implicated in creating the picture of our past, this lecture will argue that the question ‘what was life like in the ancient world’ tells us as much about ourselves as it does about the ancients.
Dr Michael Scott is a Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer at Cambridge, and formally the Moses and Mary Finley Fellow in Ancient History at Darwin College. He has written on a variety of ancient Greek and Roman world themes and places for both academic and trade publishers (Cambridge UP, Princeton UP, Wiley-Blackwell, Icon). During his time as research fellow at Darwin, he was a co-organiser of the 2010 Darwin Lecture series on Risk, and is looking forward to this experience on the other side of the fence as speaker. Michael is committed to communicating his knowledge of the ancient world to as wide an audience as possible, and is a regular speaker at schools and school conferences around the country, as well as being part of the Mayor of London’s Olympics 2012 ‘Classics in Schools’ initiative and of the Olympics 2012 Cultural Programme. He lectures and guides in both the UK and Greece for schools, universities, business organisations and cruises, writes for a variety of international newspapers and magazines and has appeared on UK and Greek radio, as well as writing and presenting TV documentaries for the History Channel, National Geographic and the BBC (Delphi: bellybutton of the ancient world 2010; Luxury in Ancient Greece 2011). www.michaelcscott.com @drmichaelcscott