Latin inscriptions in the Ashmolean Museum: influencing curatorial practice and extending educational scope to new audiences

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Classics & Ancient History

Abstract

The core research component of our AHRC grant, 'Facilitating Access to Latin inscriptions in Britain's Oldest Public Museum through Scholarship & Technology', is a new edition of the museum's collection of 470 Latin inscriptions. Our work in storerooms & archives has uncovered unpublished inscriptions, has rediscovered inscriptions in the collection which were believed to be lost, & has resulted in new readings & interpretations of published inscriptions, through the use of modern digital technology. Both monumental & non-monumental inscriptions have the potential to offer insights into individuals' lives; it is this possibility for telling stories about the past that has proved effective in showing visitors to the museum how Latin inscriptions can change their views of Roman society.

We've collaborated with staff in the Ashmolean's Antiquities, Design, Conservation, & Education Depts to develop new displays in the museum, to design innovative events engaging the public in our research, to deliver a joined-up programme of public engagement using social media & digital resources along with public lectures & gallery tours, & a multifaceted engagement with schools that has offered resources & activities for primary & secondary schools, has delivered training for secondary teachers & museum volunteers, & has worked with the Cambridge Schools Classics Project to produce mini-films for use in classrooms for teaching GCSE Classical Civilisation. We have systematically evaluated the effectiveness of the different forms of public engagement, & continue to explore innovative pathways for impact, using feedback from participants to inform future plans.

Firstly, we shall organise 2 workshops for museum curators in the UK & Europe, to exchange knowledge about successful strategies for facilitating access to Latin inscriptions among the public. Secondly, we shall collaborate with Warwick Sutton Scholars to offer to school students from widening participation backgrounds an opportunity to learn new skills in order to be able to engage in their own research, & to learn about Roman culture & the Latin language, introducing to the Roman world pupils who do not have the opportunity to study classical subjects as part of their usual curriculum. Thirdly, we will adapt the educational resources which we have created for UK schools for use in North America and Australasia. With our guidance, more teachers will have access to primary source material that can be used for teaching classical civilisation & Latin language. Finally, we shall create a varied collection of replicas of everyday objects which bear Latin inscriptions of different kinds: these will be used by the Education Dept. for school visits & for touch-tours for visually impaired visitors. Somewhat speculatively, we would also like to explore the potential for such objects to stimulate groups of adults who suffer from strokes & dementia by taking artefacts out into the community & leading interactive activities about writing technologies.

Our research has highlighted the potential of unpublished & little-known inscriptions in the museum as sources for Roman social history. Several benefits will result from our proposed activities for different constituencies: professional curators in heritage management will be able to exchange ideas about best practice in facilitating public access to Latin inscriptions; our project will introduce school students in the UK from widening participation profiles who do not otherwise study classical subjects to the excitement of working with original artefacts, & will encourage them to develop skills in carrying out & presenting their research; educational resources created for the UK will be adapted for international use, & teachers will be supported in using Latin inscriptions in their teaching; our replicas will allow individuals to touch & interact with the objects, stimulating responses towards the objects & the social history behind them.

Planned Impact

We aim to engage a wider variety of user communities in our research than could have been envisaged in our original proposal, in order to encompass museum curators in the UK & in the EU; school students from widening participation backgrounds who haven't had the chance to study Classical subjects at school; international school students & their teachers in North America & Australasia; & adults suffering from brain impairments. These pathways to impact have opened up during the course of our initial AHRC funding period (2013-2016) because of new collaborations developed during our project.
We shall hold 2 workshops to create dialogue between museum curators & epigraphers: one workshop will be held in Warwick for UK curators, & the other at the British School at Rome for European colleagues, in association with EAGLE (Europeana Network of Ancient Greek & Latin Epigraphy, a project funded by the European Commission). By holding these two workshops, we aim to exchange ideas with professionals from the heritage sector about ways of successfully facilitating access to Latin inscriptions for the public. Museum curators will benefit from the opportunity to exchange ideas on current activities & future plans, to discuss how the impact of public engagement can be measured, & to consider how collaboration with epigraphic scholars can open up new ways of contextualising Latin inscriptions.

By participating in the new Warwick Sutton Scholars programme, we will be able to direct our energies towards a completely new audience of school students, helping to inspire them to aim towards applying to University, by giving them a hands-on experience of research. Specifically, we aim to introduce a group of about 50 students to Roman history & the Latin language, via engagement with the Latin inscriptions in the Ashmolean. Participants will be students from Year 8 who come from backgrounds that are under-represented in higher education. The programme is open to schools from across the West Midlands. We shall offer a series of five day-workshops about the Roman world, focusing upon how students can benefit from engaging with primary sources, notably Latin inscriptions. We shall hold a series of Saturday workshops, including a trip to the Ashmolean, so that the students can develop research skills & transferable presentation skills, in investigating an inscription in the museum, & then writing up their research in poster form. Participants will also receive training in oral presentation skills & in how to present their ideas in poster format. This will be a new pathway to impact because it will be introducing the study of Roman culture & of the Latin language to school students who otherwise do not have the opportunity to study classical subjects at school, in contrast to our current educational programme which engages with schools where classical studies already exist in some form. This programme will generate educational resources which can then be used in other widening participation activities.

The reach of our educational programme will be extended to schools in North America & Australasia. We shall adapt our existing worksheets designed for GCSE & AS/A2 Latin, Classical Civilisation, & Ancient History in order to suit the different educational contexts. This will help teachers to become confident in using Latin inscriptions in their teaching in different ways, & enable school students to engage directly in primary source materials.

Finally, we hope to be able to make a distinctive contribution to the Ashmolean's programme that engages with adults who have suffered brain damage. By creating replica objects for individuals to touch & use (eg in producing stamped lettering on clay), & focusing upon the role of writing in everyday Roman life, we would like to explore whether connections can be evoked between past & present that might play some role in stimulating responses to their surroundings in stroke- & dementia- sufferers.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have uncovered the range of innovative forms of public engagement being used in museums in the UK and Europe, and have shared best practice in developing future directions for public engagement in Latin inscriptions. We have seen how creative reactions to Latin inscriptions in the form of poetry-writing and art-work can make inscriptions accessible to wide audiences, including adults with learning disabilities. We have explored collaboratively with museum professionals how Latin inscriptions can be used positively to contribute to visitor experience in museums.
Exploitation Route We hope that we have effectively explored ways in which Latin inscriptions can be used creatively in museums.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/classics/research/dept_projects/latininscriptions/
 
Description Informing museum professionals (curators & Education staff) on future directions for public engagement in Latin inscriptions. Worksheets now being used in schools in UK and abroad. 'Latin Adventure' primary school workshop now embedded into Education Dept at Ashmolean. Box of replicas now available to Ashmolean Education Team for use in sessions, including with adults with learning disabilities.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Ashmolean Follow-on 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Ashmolean Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Set up education activities for schools; commissioned replicas for use in education work; designed worksheets for schools; co-delivered sessions for adults with learning differences; facilitated exchange of best practice between museum professionals via workshop at Warwick.
Collaborator Contribution Supported and advised us, co-delivering education activities.
Impact Worksheets for schools. Education session 'Latin Adventure'. Set of replicas.
Start Year 2017
 
Description BSR 
Organisation British School at Rome
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution International Workshop hosted at BSR in May 2017.
Collaborator Contribution Hosted international workshop in May 2017
Impact Workshop
Start Year 2017
 
Description EAGLE 
Organisation Europeana network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy
PI Contribution Contributing EpiDoc data for incorporating into international digital network.
Collaborator Contribution Incorporating our data into international digital project.
Impact No outcomes as yet.
Start Year 2014
 
Description EU Museum Professionals 01 
Organisation Museum of Ancient Arles and Provence
PI Contribution Facilitated knowledge-exchange about good practice in public engagement via Latin inscriptions.
Collaborator Contribution Presented overview of public engagement at Arles. Participated in discussion about future directions in public engagement.
Impact Journal article submitted.
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU Museum Professionals 02 
Organisation Württemberg State Museum
PI Contribution Facilitated knowledge-exchange about good practice in public engagement via Latin inscriptions.
Collaborator Contribution Presented on public engagement at Stuttgart at workshop. Contributed to discussion about future directions in public engagement via Latin inscriptions.
Impact Journal article submitted.
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU Museum Professionals 03 
Organisation Regional Archeological Museum Antonio Salinas
PI Contribution Facilitated knowledge-exchange about good practice in public engagement via Latin inscriptions.
Collaborator Contribution Presented on public engagement at Palermo. Contributed to discussion on future direction for public engagement in Latin inscriptions
Impact Journal article submitted
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU Museum Professionals 04 
Organisation National Roman Museum, The Baths of Diocletian
PI Contribution Facilitated knowledge-exchange about good practice in public engagement via Latin inscriptions.
Collaborator Contribution Presented on public engagement in Diocletian's Baths Museum, Rome. Discussed future directions for public engagement in Latin inscriptions
Impact Journal article submitted
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU Museum Professionals 06 
Organisation Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma
Country Italy 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Facilitated knowledge-exchange about good practice in public engagement via Latin inscriptions.
Collaborator Contribution Presented on public engagement in Trajan's Markets. Contributed to discussion on future directions for public engagement in Latin inscriptions.
Impact Journal article submitted.
Start Year 2017
 
Description EU Museum professionals 05 
Organisation Archaeological Museum in Zagreb
PI Contribution Facilitated knowledge-exchange about good practice in public engagement via Latin inscriptions.
Collaborator Contribution Presented on public engagement at Zagreb. Contributed to discussion on future directions of public engagement via Latin inscriptions
Impact Journal article submitted.
Start Year 2017
 
Description UK Museum Professionals 01 
Organisation British Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Facilitated exchange of best practice between museum professionals via workshop at Warwick.
Collaborator Contribution Took part in presenting best practice at the British Museum; participated in discussion about future directions for public engagement.
Impact Journal article under consideration.
Start Year 2017
 
Description UK Museum Professionals 02 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department The Fitzwilliam Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Facilitated exchange of best practice between museum professionals via workshop at Warwick.
Collaborator Contribution Participated in discussion about future directions in public engagement.
Impact Journal article submitted for consideration.
Start Year 2017
 
Description UK Museum Professionals 03 
Organisation Roman Baths
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Facilitated exchange of best practice between museum professionals via workshop at Warwick.
Collaborator Contribution Presented best practice at Roman Baths; took part in discussion about future directions in public engagement.
Impact Journal article submitted.
Start Year 2017
 
Description UK Museum Professionals 04 
Organisation National Museums Liverpool
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Facilitated exchange of best practice between museum professionals via workshop at Warwick.
Collaborator Contribution Discussed future directions in public engagement.
Impact Journal article submitted.
Start Year 2017
 
Description UK Museum Professionals 05 
Organisation Shrewsbury Museum
PI Contribution Facilitated knowledge exchange between museum professionals relating to Latin inscriptions.
Collaborator Contribution Made presentation on work with adults in teaching Latin via inscriptions in Shrewsbury Museum.
Impact Impact on adult-learning at Shrewsbury Museum.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Association for Reform of Latin Teaching (ARLT) Inset Day (Sollihull School) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 'Meeting the Romans in Oxford: the Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions Project': lecture for secondary school teachers. Audience questionnaires indicated intention to engage with the teaching resources produced by the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Documentary - Perusine slingshot 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interviewed on Bettany Hughes' Channel 5 docu-drama 'Eight Days that Made Rome' - filmed in April, broadcast in November 2017. Presented new research on the Perusine sling bullets in the Ashmolean Museum, as a means of understanding the emotional impact of fighting in the Roman civil wars.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Latin Adventure Primary School Workshop 01 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 28 primary school children visited the Ashmolean to participate in 'Latin Adventure' activity designed by our project in collaboration with the Ashmolean Education Team. This new educational session is now available for delivery in the future by the Ashmolean Education Team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Latin Adventure Primary School Workshop 02 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 28 primary school children visited the Ashmolean to participate in 'Latin Adventure' activity designed by our project in collaboration with the Ashmolean Education Team. This new educational session is now available for delivery in the future by the Ashmolean Education Team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Latin Adventure Primary School Workshop 03 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 27 primary school children visited the Ashmolean to participate in 'Latin Adventure' activity designed by our project in collaboration with the Ashmolean Education Team. This new educational session is now available for delivery in the future by the Ashmolean Education Team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Latin Adventure Primary School Workshop 04 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 27 primary school children visited the Ashmolean to participate in 'Latin Adventure' activity designed by our project in collaboration with the Ashmolean Education Team. This new educational session is now available for delivery in the future by the Ashmolean Education Team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description PGCE Inset Workshop (Ashmolean Museum Oxford) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact PGCE INSET for students from KCL and Cambridge. Participants recorded on questionnaires increased knowledge of Latin inscriptions & ideas about how to incorporate inscriptions into teaching. Also an increased awareness of the advantages of bringing school children to the museum.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Replica Sessions for Adults with Learning Disabilities 01 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Replica sessions for 8 adults with learning disabilities + 4 support workers. Used the Latin inscriptions in the museum to inspire creativity and engagement. Established a template for future activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Replica sessions for adults with learning disabilities 02 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Replica sessions for 8 adults with learning disabilities + 4 support workers. Used the Latin inscriptions in the museum to inspire creativity and engagement. Established a template for future activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Replica sessions for adults with learning disabilities 03 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Replica sessions for 8 adults with learning disabilities + 4 support workers. Used the Latin inscriptions in the museum to inspire creativity and engagement. Established a template for future activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Replica sessions for adults with learning disabilities 04 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Replica sessions for 8 adults with learning disabilities + 4 support workers. Used the Latin inscriptions in the museum to inspire creativity and engagement. Established a template for future activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Sixth Form Study Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Study day for 38 students + 3 teachers at the Ashmolean.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Sutton Summer School Ashmolean Trip, Oxford 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Warwick Sutton Summer School workshop, Ashmolean Museum. Some wp students subsequently applied to study Classics at Warwick
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Warwick Sutton Scholars Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Year 9 students presented their research posters which they had created during the Sutton workshops from January to April. This was the first time that many of them had encountered the Roman world. They chose one of the inscriptions in the Ashmolean Collection, carried out research, and produced a poster, working in small groups. The event was also designed to introduce HE to school students from WP backgrounds.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Warwick Sutton Scholars Workshop, Ashmolean Museum Oxford 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Warwick Sutton Scholars Trip to Ashmolean Museum: hands-on craft activities; gallery tour; object handling.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Warwick Sutton Scholars workshop, University of Warwick 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Warwick Sutton Scholars AshLI workshop, third session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Warwick Sutton Scholars workshop, Warwick University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Warwick Sutton Scholars workshop: students from wp backgrounds introduced to Roman world via Latin inscriptions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Workshop for Museum Professionals 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This two-day workshop at Warwick University was a follow-on impact activity for the Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions project, 2013-2016. During the course of our project, we have experimented with different ways of engaging the public with Latin inscriptions, via events in the museum (such as The Walking Dead for Dead Friday in Oct 2015 - a re-enactment of the funeral of Ti Claudius Abascantianus; Remembering the Romans Family Activity Day in Nov 2015), via social media (Twitter, Facebook), via blogs and vodcasts, and by creating new displays in the galleries. We have also experimented with designing apps, worksheets, and websites, working closely with the Ashmolean Education team.
This workshop brought together museum curators and Education staff to share good practice in innovative ways of engaging the public with Latin inscriptions.
This workshop was followed by a one-day workshop at the British School at Rome (23rd May 2017), in order to broaden the picture of public engagement beyond the UK.
The workshops offered the opportunity for discussing initiatives in facilitating access to Latin inscriptions for the general public, and for creating guidelines for public engagement in epigraphic collections. The workshops facilitated knowledge exchange, allowing us to present the results of our current project, outlining the successful ways in which we have been engaging the public through new gallery installations, digital resources, social media, family events, and public lectures. They allowed the exchange of knowledge about what other museums already do and how future activities could be developed. Participants talked about initiatives in their own institutions and exchanged ideas with others. An article has been written to reflect upon the results of the workshop and have been submitted for consideration to a journal. Also attending was the PI from the new ERC-project Latin Now: our experience is now shaping the way in which that project is being formulated.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Workshop for Museum Professionals in the EU 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop at the British School at Rome was a follow-on activity for the Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions project, 2013-2016. It took place shortly after a similar two-day workshop helped in Warwick for UK museum professionals, and was designed to extend the geographical scope of our discussions on best practice to museums in the EU. During the course of our project, we have experimented with different ways of engaging the public with Latin inscriptions, via events in the museum (such as The Walking Dead for Dead Friday in Oct 2015 - a re-enactment of the funeral of Ti Claudius Abascantianus, whose ash chest is now part of a new display based around a columbarium case; Remembering the Romans Family Activity Day in Nov 2015, which included gallery tours, handling objects sessions, story-telling, and craft activities for children), via social media (Twitter, Facebook), via blogs and vodcasts, and by creating new displays in the galleries. Our project has looked at Latin inscribed objects of all shapes and sizes: not just monumental inscriptions, but writing on objects as varied as brickstamps, terracotta lamps, terra sigillata, signacula, gold-glass, and fistulae. We have also experimented with designing digital apps, worksheets, and websites, working closely with the Ashmolean Education team.
Our workshop was designed to create the opportunity from museum curators and professionals from different EU countries to come together to discuss innovative ways of engaging the public with Latin inscriptions.
The workshop offered the opportunity for discussing initiatives in facilitating access to Latin inscriptions for the general public, and for creating guidelines for public engagement in epigraphic collections. The workshops facilitated knowledge exchange, allowing us to present the results of our current project, outlining the successful ways in which we have been engaging the public through new gallery installations, digital resources, social media, family events, and public lectures. They allowed the exchange of knowledge about what other museums already do and how future activities could be developed.
Participants talked about initiatives in their own institutions and exchanged ideas with others. The results of the two workshops at Warwick and Rome have been written up and submitted to a museum studies journal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017