Events 2020-21

Wednesday 13th January 2021, 5pm

Open to all, via Zoom (please email k.l.mcdonald@exeter.ac.uk for the link)

Dr Michael Loy (Assistant Director, British School at Athens)

(Re)-building a virtual excavation. The case of Tholos IV at the Palace of Nestor

In 1953 Lord William Taylour directed the excavation of a monumental vaulted tholos tomb known as ‘Tholos IV’, a stone’s throw away from the later discovered and infamous ‘Griffin Warrior Grave’ at the site of ancient Pylos, Messenia, Greece. The excavation was conducted over two months, from which detailed notes were recorded in three notebooks now kept in the Archives of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The formal publication of Tholos IV, however, contains only a basic narrative of the excavation, offering neither precise detail on stratigraphy, object find spots, nor even a complete inventory of small finds. The present study rebuilds virtually Taylour’s excavation, combining data from the original notebooks with a new digital survey of Tholos IV. A comprehensive and accurate 3D GIS model for Taylour’s excavation has now been built that lets one wind back the discovery of the tomb. Furthermore, the GIS has been produced in such a way that its dataset is directly comparable with new excavation data currently generated in the ongoing Palace of Nestor Excavations (PONEX) project. Discussion follows on how the production of this GIS deepens our understanding not just of the legacy excavation, but also of the site and its wider landscape.

To view Dr Loy’s talk, please click here.


Thursday 18th March, 5pm

Open to all, via Zoom (please email k.l.mcdonald@exeter.ac.uk for the link)

Dr Daisy Dunn

In a Nutshell: The World According to Pliny


Pliny the Elder – historian, statesman, and tragic victim of the eruption of Vesuvius of AD 79 – left behind the most remarkable account of the world in the shape of his encyclopaedia of Natural History. Covering everything from the habits of elephants to the perils of oysters, the book makes for particularly fascinating reading today as we refocus our efforts on protecting the environment. In this original talk, author Dr Daisy Dunn – winner of the 2020 Classical Association Prize – offers an entertaining tour through this most surprising of ancient books, uncovering observations to inspire – and to puzzle – as we seek to draw closer to nature. 


Daisy Dunn is an author and classicist. Her books include In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny, Of Gods and Men: 100 Stories from Ancient Greece and Rome, Homer: A Ladybird Expert Book, Catullus’ Bedspread: The Life of Rome’s Most Erotic Poet and The Poems of Catullus: A New Translation. 


Wednesday 28th April, 5pm

Open to all, via Zoom (please email k.l.mcdonald@exeter.ac.uk for the link)

Dr Dan Diffendale (American Academy in Rome)

The Stones that Rome was Built With (during the Monarchy and Republic)

The city of Rome was already populated with temples and other monuments centuries before the introduction of those stereotypical Roman building materials, concrete and marble. As early as the 6th century BCE, Roman builders began to exploit the natural resources of the city’s volcanic landscape, quarrying a variety of local tuffs to use as building stone. Developing scientific techniques allow these stones to be traced to their quarries of origin in and around Rome. The results of these analyses indicate a higher degree of architectural and economic sophistication among early Roman builders than previously understood, and they suggest some new ways of understanding the work of Roman laborers.

To view Dr Diffendale’s talk, please click here. The link will be available for 30 days.