"The Roman Military"
This performance begins with a discussion of the importance of the Roman army in the development and expansion of the Roman Empire. With the help of students, full size Greek and Roman armor and weapons are displayed and demonstrated live before the audience. Other items used by a Roman infantryman are also shown and explained. Similarly, scale models of Roman siege machines are displayed and explained. A power point slide lecture then describes the daily life of the ancient Roman soldier, often making comparisons with the modern American military. Clips from popular motion pictures about the ancient Roman army are then viewed and critiqued for historical accuracy. This presentation would have particular relevance to history and Latin classes.
"Visit from a Pompeian Slave"
A motion picture clip depicting the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius is shown to the audience. While the students are watching the clip, Douglas Ryan enters the room, portraying a slave from ancient Pompeii. He is dressed in full costume and makeup. When the movie clip ends, he tells the students his life experience as both a slave and freedman. His narrative explains how he arrived in Pompeii and the circumstances that caused him to be in Pompeii when the disaster began. He tells an emotional tale about his experiences before during and after the eruption. After the slave narrative is completed, Mr. Ryan comes out of character to give a power point slide lecture about the ancient ruins around the Bay of Naples. Historical and scientific evidence about the eruption is presented. The performance concludes with an interactive audience exercise regarding archaeological investigation. Students studying history, Latin, and drama would find this program of special interest.
"The Greek and Roman Gods as Reflections of Us"
Students are given a general review of the 12 Olympian gods and goddesses. However, this review centers on these deities, not as supernatural beings, but archetypes of human personalities. An interactive power point presentation reminds the students of the major roles that each deity played in Classical mythology, emphasizing aspects of his/her personality. Items from our "Museum in the Classroom" collection are used to enhance this presentation. At the end of the lecture, each student is given a questionnaire to determine which god/goddess had a personality most like his/her own. The performance concludes with a power point show that illustrates the surprising role that Classical mythology played in the public image of certain American Presidents. English, Latin, social studies, and psychology students, in particular, would be drawn to this presentation.
"A Trip Up the Nile River"
Reproductions of Egyptian items from our "Museum in the Classroom" collection are put at the front of the room and referred to throughout the performance. Employing a power point slide format, the presentation first addresses the significance of Egypt's geography and the crucial role that the Nile River has played in its history. The journey begins in Alexandria with depictions and discussion of its famous ancient lighthouse and library. A piece of papyrus is handed out to students so that they can feel its texture and understand how this important ancient product was made. After pictures are shown of a modern Alexandrian clothing market, ancient Egyptian garments are also illustrated. A student from the audience is then chosen to wear a modern formal man's gown (galabia) and headdress. Next, important aspects of ancient Egyptian religion (deities, burials, concept of the afterlife, etc.) are reviewed. Continuing on to Cairo, Egyptian pyramids become the focus of the narrative. Douglas Ryan describes is experience exploring inside the Great Pyramid (Khufu). Further along the Nile there are stops at the temples at Philae, Kom Ombo, Edfu, Karnak, and Luxor. The architecture of these temple complexes is described with the hope that students will recall it when, in future studies, they look at Classical Greek temple architecture. The journey concludes with a return to the Valley of the Kings. Here there is a focus on the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Mr. Ryan describes his visit inside the tomb itself as well as his time in the Cairo museum where the tomb artifacts are on display. (There is an optional movie clip available that can be viewed during a scheduled intermission. It shows the fascination that tourists have with camel rides in Egypt.) This program is beneficial to social studies, Latin, and art students.
"Roman Water and Sewer Systems"
Although this presentation offers much specific information about ancient Roman water and sewer systems, its ultimate goal is to provide students with a historical perspective regarding certain current environmental issues. There is a power point format that is interspersed with questions to the audience about history, science, geography, and general trivia. The intent of this interactive aspect of the performance is to keep students engaged throughout the narrative. The program begins with considering how the world's first major civilizations were founded in river valleys. ("Where there was no water, there were no people.") The focus then shifts to the Tiber River where Roman civilization started. There is much information given concerning aqueducts, inner-city water distribution methods, and public fountains and baths. The performance then looks at Pompeii as an example of how smaller Roman municipalities dealt with water acquisition and waste disposal. The presentation ends with a reminder about the demographics of the modern and ancient worlds. The conclusion is obvious: as the population increases, so does the need for adequate water and sewer systems. (It is estimated that the world's population first reached 1 billion circa AD 1800. Since that time the world's estimated population has exploded to about 7.5 billion.) This presentation would fit the curriculum of social studies, environmental science, and Latin classes.
"Hellas: An Overview of Ancient Greece"
Reproductions of items from our "Museum in the Classroom" are placed at the front of the room and used to enhance the power point format of the presentation. The program begins with a brief look at the geography of ancient Greece. Then, emphasizing the 12 major Olympian gods and goddesses, ancient Greek religion is recalled. The focus shifts to Delphi where an ancient oracle was worshiped. The complex of various structures provides a clear example of how ancient Greek religion, politics, and popular social activities were intermingled. A look at the Acropolis of Athens reinforces this notion. The Parthenon, Propylaea, and Erechtheum are portrayed not only as sites for religious activities, but also examples of Classical architecture. Similarly, ruins of theaters at the Acropolis remind students of the great accomplishments of Greek playwrights like Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus. Impressive achievements in art are then emphasized as examples of Greek statuary and pottery are shown. The Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are featured for their major contributions to Western thought. The presentation concludes with a summary of Athenian democracy which established the concept for modern civilizations. (An optional student activity can be added to this presentation. It involves students working with the Greek alphabet to find find Greek roots in English vocabulary.) Latin, social studies, and art students would find this presentation pertinent to their studies.
"Julius Caesar: Military Genius"
Similar to the "Roman Military" presentation, this program about Julius Caesar uses items from our "Museum in the Classroom" collection to supplement the power point format. Specifically, a suit of chain mail armor (worn by a student from the audience), Roman short sword (gladius), shield, and other items appropriate to first century BC Roman infantry are displayed and demonstrated live in front of the audience. This live presentation also includes scale models of Roman siege machines that would have been employed by Caesar. A brief summary of Julius Caesar's family background is given at the beginning of the narrative, emphasizing the military achievements of his ancestor Gaius Marius. Caesar's own military career is then highlighted with a description of the battle of Alesia. The successful siege of this important Gallic fortified city demonstrates Caesar's extraordinary mastery of the art of siege warfare. Next, there is a look at Caesar's invasion of Britannia, the first large amphibious assault in Western history. This attack on the southeastern coast of ancient Britannia is then compared to the WWII Allied invasion of Normandy. It is noted that Caesar's invasion left the European continent to invade Britannia while the WWII Allied invasion of the European continent had its starting point in Great Britain. Similarly, Caesar's construction of a bridge over the Rhine River to invade ancient Germania is compared to the WWII Allied crossing of the same river when the Allies tried to conquer Hitler's Germany. It is then noted that when Caesar recorded his conquests in his commentaries on the Gallic wars, he used stereotypes to characterize his enemies. These ancient stereotypes are compared to modern propaganda posters of WWII. The end of the presentation summarizes Julius Caesar's military achievements and says that they were actually a prelude to Caesar's political success and the later success of his adopted son, Octavian (August). This presentation would be of particular interest to students taking history and Latin classes.
"Masada: Roman Control of the Ancient Middle East"
Like our presentations "The Roman Military" and "Julius Caesar: Military Genius," this program uses reproductions of military equipment (armor, weapons, other infantry items, and models of siege machines) from our "Museum in the Classroom" collection. These items are displayed and demonstrated live before the audience to supplement the power point format. The location of the fortress complex of Masada is depicted at the beginning of the presentation. Its strategic and cultural significance is explained. Much information about this fortified city on the top of a plateau in the desert is conveyed through pictures and narration. Since he has explored the ruins of Masada, Douglas Ryan relates personal observations at different points throughout the narrative. Flavius Josephus' story of the Roman siege of Masada is told and then brought to life with a clip from the motion picture, "Masada." This version of the event is then critiqued. The program concludes with pictures and description of the Dead Sea. Located near Masada, it is the saltiest body of water on earth. Students studying social studies and Latin would benefit from this presentation.
"The Ancients and Us"
As is true of most of our other presentations, this power point program is enhanced by the display and explanation of many items from our "Museum in the Classroom" collection. Originally created as a professional development program for middle school teachers, this presentation focused on showing young students why they should learn about ancient history. First the notion that works of art reflect various aspects of the society in which they are created is introduced. Artwork from ancient totalitarian Egypt is compared with that of the more open culture of ancient Athens. Modern examples of this notion are also depicted. As ancient artwork reveals much about ancient cultures, so our modern artwork says much about us. Tracing the portrayal of gods and goddesses from ancient times through the modern era, the evolution of religion is discussed. The presentation points out ancient antecedents of modern religion found in the history of the United States. The narrative then shows some surprising examples of the influence of Classical mythology in the history of our nation. For example, American artwork showing George Washington resembling Zeus seated on his throne or dressed in a Roman toga is presented and discussed. Similar artwork depicting Abraham Lincoln is shown. The ancient Roman practice of deifying their emperors is recalled by some American artwork depicting Washington and Lincoln each ascending into heaven as crucified Christ figures. The presentation concludes with a look at ancient architecture that is obviously reflected in modern structures. In particular, numerous large impressive United States federal buildings have been constructed in the style of Classical temples and basilicas. Social studies and art classes would benefit most from this program.
"Women in Egyptian and Classical Art"
We use many items from our "Museum in the Classroom" collection to enhance a power point format. With these reproductions of ancient artwork available at the front of the room, the presentation looks at how women were portrayed in statuary, wall paintings, mosaics, and coins. First the artwork of ancient Egypt is examined. Many examples of Egyptian goddesses, queens, and ordinary women are displayed and discussed. Particular attention is paid to the pose, clothing, make up, and implied activity of the figure. Much pertinent information about ancient Egyptian society is added. In a similar manner, artwork from the ancient Greeks and Romans is examined. Again, supplemental information about the Classical world is presented. Throughout the entire presentation students are encouraged to observe closely and make assumptions about the role of women in these three ancient cultures. That is, the audience is asked to use the artwork as evidence to determine the status of women in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Students interested in social studies and art would enjoy this program.