The Acropolis, Athens
As mentioned in the last post, I've been scanning hundreds of slides. I just came across an amazing picture of the Acropolis, from Athens. There is something about it that makes it close to being one of my favorites so far. It must be the lights projecting onto the entry buildings, and of course, on the Parthenon. The Parthenon has a neat history. It was built during the Peloponnesian War, primarily from money that was taken from the Delian League treasury. This treasury was meant to help the Delian League in its war the the Peloponnesian League, led by the Spartans. But money was funneling into making Athens look great instead of defense. There were religious buildings on the Acropolis before this period, but many of them were destroyed when the Persians invaded and sacked Athens (under Xerxes, the Persian king). In 1687 some ammunitions were stored in this temple by the Ottomans, and when they were attacked, they exploded, destroying parts of the building. Luckily it wasn't totally destroyed.
Part of being a digital historian is (no big surprise!) to preserve material digitally. I've been working on what seems to be a massive project of digitizing a few thousand slides from Prof. Guilliard, who taught in my department. He died in 2005 and left behind boxes and boxes of slides he used in his lectures. Many of them are now discolored (mostly a strange red), but scanning technology has been bringing them back to life. I am so excited about this since I have been using them in my own lectures and have been sharing them with one of my colleagues. Today I scanned some from Prof. Guillard's trip to Israel and another trip to Greece. The slides from Athens are incredible, but the frames of the slides are very large so I am having to scan them two at a time (which is taking me about 7 minutes/2 slides).
Another thing that I have to do with these is probably going to take me longer than scanning--Prof. Guilliard left behind notes for almost ever slide. I've been slowly making my way through the second box. What I had been doing is to look for websites and journal articles on various objects or sites, but that will have to wait until later--there is just too much raw material that needs to be scanned and categorized. I'll spend part of the summer attaching notes and popping this material up at my website. The next stage is to actually put all of this material to use. That will be a project for next year. After that I will have to tackle another pile of slides from another professor who used to teach in the department. Unfortunately for me, someone dumped these slides into large manila envelopes--so they aren't in any order, nor are there any notes. I may post some and ask others to help me identify them!
Inscription on the Arch of Titus, Roman Forum
There are lots of words that we use today that come from the ancient languages like Greek and Latin. Here are just a
Civilization: from the Latin civis, meaning an inhabitant of a city.
Paleolithic: paleo means old, and lithic means stone (Greek words)
Mesolithic: meso means middle, and lithic means stone (Greek)
Neolithic: neo means new (Greek)
Homo sapien sapien: Homo means person; sapien sapien means wise, wise
Mesopotamia: As above, meso means middle, and potamos means river (so the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates
Hippopotamus: Hippo means horse, and as above, potamos means river
Potable (as in potable water), comes from potamos
Monarch: mono means one, and arch (comes from
the Greek archon) means ruler
Monotheism: as above, mono means one, theism comes from theo, meaning god
Polytheism: poly means many, and as above, theism means god.
Acropolis: acro means high (think acrobat), and polis means city
Strategy: comes from the Greek strategos, which means a military general
Doctor: comes from the Latin for teacher.
Metropolitan: comes from the Greek mater which means mother, and polis, meaning city.
Patriarchy: comes from the Greek pater which means father, and arch, meaning ruler
The Theater at Delphi
So what makes up an ancient city? I usually teach at California State University, East Bay either a course in the ancient world to a freshmen-only class (HIST 1017)or HIST 1014, which is open to everyone. I usually teach World Civ. I at Menlo College. I start off these classes with a basic definition of Civilization: 1) It needs to have cities with a population of 10,000 or more; 2) Monumental architecture, and 3) it needs to have writing.
This quarter we are looking at what actually makes up a city. I’ve had the students read two articles (on top of their normal reading): Banning, E. B, “Housing Neolithic Farmers,” Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 66, No. 1/2, House and Home in the Southern
Levant (Mar. - Jun., 2003), pp. 4-21, and Childe, V. Gordon, “The Urban Revolution,” The Town Planning Review, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Apr., 1950), pp. 3-17. The
Childe article is particularly good in describing what makes up a civilization. The Banning article
is pretty fascinating in that it discusses how the act of living in a village for the first time affected people psychologically. It also is a great article for providing architectural plans for early Neolithic houses. I’m hoping the students see the difference between the Neolithic (when farming first occurs) and Civilization. But back to a city: what is the difference between a Neolithic village and a city? It is more than just a house. I don’t want to go into all the details here, but there are buildings that take large numbers of people to build: temples, infrastructure like roads, bridges, governmental buildings like palaces and libraries, buildings for entertainment (like the Theater at Delphi shown above), storage for large amounts of food and so on. We’ll be concentrating quite a bit on the archaeological plans for these cities.
Today I was planning on showing my class how to work on wiki pages, how to create blogs, and how to create a movie using Microsoft's Movie Maker. First problem: my laptop would not connect to the classroom projector because it is an ultrabook. I spent the morning trying to find a connector, but no luck. I (stupidly) assumed that Classroom Services would have piles of them lying around--but no luck. So I asked that MovieMaker be downloaded onto the classroom computer. This was done just as class was starting, but it was a very old version, mostly because the classroom computer is running Windows XP and IE6. Because of this, I couldn't even see wordpress.com, which is what I wanted my students to use. Luckily someone suggested I use Safari. That worked much better, but it still wasn't perfect. We never got around to looking at the old version of MovieMaker--I figured everyone would have at least Windows 7, so there was no point in showing them something different than what they would be using. Next time: get my own connector, and try things out on the campus computer system...
Kevin W. Kaatz
I received my Ph.D. in Ancient History from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. My interests are all things ancient, but in particular, early Christianity and the use of digital tools.
The Latest Archaeological News from Past Horizons:
Digital History Websites:
Research in Learning Technology: The Journal of the Association of Learning Technology
Digital Humanities Specialist (no longer updated, but still lots of great things)
(International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning)
Learning Solutions Magazine
- The World of Ancient History Blog
- Digital History Projects
- Interactive Videos for Online courses
- Aurasma Images
- The Gilliard Collection
- Student Projects
- Pompeii and Herculaneum
- Historical Exercises
- The Talking Map Project
- Photogallery associated to my Talking Map Project
- Thinglink page
- Instructional Videos
- Digital Tools
- Adobe Assignments