It’s been a long time since I posted anything on here and somehow it wouldn’t feel right to just launch into another post about Roman statues without providing some account of what I’ve been doing and why I’ve had so little time for blogging over the last three months. So, for anyone who’s been losing sleep wondering if the Monuments of Roman Greece Blog was ever going to be up and running again here’s a brief update.
The major reason I have been a bit preoccupied of late is that at the beginning of September I became a father for the second time. I now have two beautiful daughters, one nearly three, the other just turned eight weeks. Even though we couldn’t really ask for a more easy going baby – she hardly cries and is already sleeping well at night – the demands of parenting have been taking up quite a bit more time than when we just had the one.
After two weeks’ paternity leave, however, I have been back in work and have actually been rather busy. Firstly, I was working through the editors’ comments for an article of mine that is about to appear (any minute now) in the journal Hesperia. The title: “Pausanias and the “Archaic Agora” at Athens”. It’s about how we can use the second century AD traveller writer Pausanias, who’s featured a lot in this blog, to work out where different monuments were in Roman period cities, and in particular in Athens. I’m quite excited about the article appearing in Hesperia, the journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, because a lot of scholarship about the Athenian Agora, which played a big role in my PhD research, was published there .
And that is the second thing that’s been keeping me busy – turning the PhD thesis into a book, or at least the first half of it. The thesis was about the changing use of the Greek agora in Hellenistic and Roman times. The thesis ended up rather long and because it was made up of two halves that really made different arguments and took a very different approach to the subject I decided to split it into two books. I originally wanted to get the first part to the publisher two years ago but – a familiar story in academia – teaching work got in the way and, without continuous blocks of time to work on it progress was hard going. Since arriving in Oxford I’ve been working on it alongside the new project on public monuments so it’s still been difficult to get it finished but now I finally have managed to send it off. I have to wait for it to be reviewed so I don’t know yet for sure whether the publisher wants it but this already feels like quite a milestone.
The third thing that took up a bit of time was a workshop on the Functional Differentiation of Public Space, hosted by the Topoi Institute in Berlin. I was very honoured to be invited to give the keynote talk. The event was a big success – one of the most productive workshops I think I’ve been to – well organised with some great papers. It was also a good chance to practice my German, after having followed a course here in Oxford last year, though everybody of course spoke excellent English and the only real discussion I had was with a kind couple at the train station who tried to help me when I couldn’t get one of the luggage lockers to work. I only had a couple of days in Berlin but I did manage to visit the amazing Altes Museum for the first time, hence the photos I posted on Twitter. If it hadn’t been for my argument with the luggage locker I might have made it to the Neues museum as well but Nefertiti will have to wait for next time.
On the public monuments front I’m happy to report that very soon I’ll be launching a website version of a searchable database I’ve been working on. I’ve hired somebody to construct the database and website for me and I’ve now seen a template version and I’m very pleased with the way it has turned out. Once it is up and running it will also be possible to follow the blog through the website. Now that the book is out of the way – at least until I get the reviewers’ comments – I’ll have more time for blogging so expect an update on the website and database as well as more about Roman Greece soon.