Sunday, March 22
Sites Visited: National Gallery (London) and Ure Museum (Reading)
Where did we stay tonight?: London
Leaders: Charles Clark and Ally Begly
Herodotus, who wrote the world’s first historical account, used a method that he referred to as “autopsy.” Back then, autopsy didn’t necessarily involve cadavers. It simply meant “seeing for oneself.” What we are fast realizing on the FSP is that we are here to perform autopsies of our own. Studying from books and slides has taken us just so far, and in order to more fully understand the ancient Greek culture we need to see it for ourselves, just like Herodotus. We are also learning new ways of applying the skills that we have developed studying Classics.
Today, the first thing that our group saw for ourselves was the National Gallery, one of the greatest collections of European painting in the world. Professor Christesen instructed us to divide into groups and to pick a favorite painting. Then, we analyzed the art using the same techniques that we have all applied to ancient Greek works such as vase paintings. The point of this exercise was to get us to engage with art that we naturally liked, and then to think critically about why and how we enjoyed it. We gave short oral presentations explaining our choices to our classmates. One painting in particular that was enjoyed by many of us was a work of J.M.W. Turner’s, which Jason and Kait B. discussed.
Afterwards, we traveled to the University of Reading for a tour of their surprisingly extensive collection of Greek vases. We also had a chance to look at a replication of two kleroteria, which were used in ancient Athens for the purposes of jury selection. It was really interesting to see how one of these devices actually might have worked! What also made this visit special was being allowed to actually handle the pottery, a privilege rarely enjoyed by undergraduates. Dr. Amy Smith ’88 presented the material to us and supervised our “autopsies.”
After the University of Reading, we headed back to London, where we were stuck in lots of traffic! When we arrived back to the hostel, most of us ate dinner and then started to work on the reading and questions for tomorrow, when we’re back at the British Museum to look at the Temple of Bassai, the Mausoleum, and more Greek pottery with Dr. Smith.
Video Intro to the Day:
Dr. Smith talks about Greek pottery:
Conclusion to Day 2:
Day 2 Photo Gallery: