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Program and Workshops


All events held at Palmer Commons unless otherwise specified.


Copley Latin Day 2024 List of Presentations & Workshops

We hope you will find our offerings for Copley Latin Day 2024 as exciting as we do. As part of registration, we ask you to rank your interest in each of the activities from 1 (greater) to 5 (lower) on this CLD24 Activities Registration page.


A Constellation is Born [seminar]

Netta Berlin (faculty)

(N.B.: this presentation/workshop is for advanced Latin students.) The names of many constellations come from Greek and Roman myths. For example, Leo, which is visible in early April, refers to the Nemean lion killed by Hercules. One constellation, however, was named for a historical queen of Egypt – Berenice, whose lock of hair took flight and became a cluster of stars located close to Leo (so Conon, the court astronomer, claimed). In this workshop we will explore what the story of this metamorphosis tells us about royal power in Hellenistic Egypt and trace the metamorphosis of this story from its Greek source to the Latin of Catullus. The storyteller is the lock of hair!


A Year in the Life of an Ancient Doctor [workshop]

Madeleine Harris (graduate student)

When was the last time you went to the doctor? What for? How did they help you? Today, we go to the doctor for all sorts of things, from specific injuries and illnesses to general preventative care, and the doctor can respond to these ailments and concerns with a variety of treatments. Surprisingly, this model is not so different from the ancient Greeks'! In this workshop, we will explore aspects of generalized medical care in the ancient Greek world, imagining ourselves to be doctors at an iatreion and learning how to treat a patient over the course of a year in her injury and accident-prone life. We will learn about both specific treatments and remedies, as well as general theories of health and body, in order to deepen our understanding of ancient medicine and to see how it is not so different from our own.


Are You Smarter Than a Roman Naturalist? [workshop]

Hannah Resnick and Elizabeth Zollner (graduate students)

According to Pliny the Elder's Natural History, birds are the smallest animals, insects don't breathe, and sea monsters are most active during the solstice. Clearly, animals were quite different in Ancient Rome from how they are now! In this activity, students will be presented with descriptions of animals from Pliny's Natural History and try to reconstruct what they could be. There will be a prize for the winner!


Epicurus’ Swerve. Can we preserve free will in a deterministic world? [lecture]

Sara Ahbel-Rappe (faculty)

Free will, the idea that we are not determined by external factors in our decisions and actions, is an ancient idea that goes back to early Christian teachings and also to Hellenistic philosophy. Epicurus, an atomist, used the notion of the atomic swerve in order to preserve free will in his ethical system. How do people look at free will today? Recently Stanford Scientist Robert Sapolsky has concluded that human beings lack free will. What does neuroscience teach us about free will today? In this session, we will study Epicurus' notion of the atomic swerve as an argument against determinism and then look at how contemporary science understands free will given the materialistic assumptions that attend the scientific outlook.


Excavations at the Cemetery at Kelsopolis [workshop]

Stephanie Wottreng-Haley (museum educator)

Many of the artifacts in the Kelsey Museum are grave goods- artifacts that come from funerary contexts or burials. Archaeologists frequently excavate burials to learn about how people lived in the past. Valuable information can be learned from examining human remains and the artifacts buried with the person. This activity introduces students to the idea that the objects buried with a person (grave goods) can tell us something about that person’s life. Students also learn more about how archaeologists do research and communicate their finds to other archaeologists and the public. Students will work in three groups to analyze and identify individuals found in three mock burials from the fictional Roman period site of Kelsopolis.


Greek and Roman Aqueducts in Anatolia [lecture]

Christopher Ratté (faculty)

The provision of fresh water is essential to urban life. Aqueducts are often considered a Roman innovation, but they were important features of Greek cities as well. The lecture presents the results of new research on the water supply of two ancient cities in western Turkey, Notion, a Greek port town on the Aegean coast, and Aphrodisias, a Roman city in the Meander valley region.


Introduction to Bronze Age Archaeology [presentation]

Rebecca Sanders (graduate student) 

Before Ancient Rome, Ancient Athens, or even Homer, a thriving Greek civilization traded food, art, tools, and culture on the Aegean Sea. How can we learn about Bronze Age Greece? What do we already know? In this talk, students will learn about the archaeology of Bronze Age Greeece and a few facts about these pre-Dark Age societies.


Operation Skill Game: Gladiator Edition [workshop]

Alanna Heatherly (graduate student)

Galen, a renowned and prolific doctor in imperial Rome, is often most well-known for his time spent as the court physician under the emperor Marcus Aurelius, but many are not aware of his first ‘gig’ as a gladiator physician in Asia Minor. While caring for these gladiators, Galen gained valuable knowledge about diet, exercise, anatomy, and wound care in general. In this workshop, students will first be provided with a brief overview of Galen’s career as a gladiator physician, followed by an Operation board-game style activity. In this activity, students will be exposed to various types of injuries that Galen’s gladiators experienced, and in a sense, will be directly engaging in the 'spectacle of medicine' through which Galen himself gained notoriety: public exhibition of skill. Along the way, students will also be able to explore the types and names of gladiators, animals, and weaponry used in Roman gladiatorial games!


Pliny the Elder -- a martyr of science [lecture]

Donka Markus (faculty)  

On a fateful day in October 79 AD natural historian and encyclopedist Pliny the Elder sailed across the Bay of Naples to examine closely the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, never to return. What happened to Pliny and why is his last exploratory journey worthy of our attention and memory? We will take a letter by Pliny's nephew as a guide to the last hours of Pliny the Elder's remarkable life that combined scientific exploration with civic and military service.


Roman Tragedy: Cosmic Upheaval in Accius’ Atreus and Seneca’s Thyestes [presentation]

Shaun Espenshade (graduate student) 

Description: This session is an introduction to Roman tragedy through the fragments of Accius' Atreus and the fourth choral ode of Seneca's Thyestes. The presenter will include a brief introduction to the genre of tragedy and the role of Roman tragedy in literary history. Our focus will be the collapse of the universe at the end of both dramas, paying particular attention to the power and majesty of tragic language and style, as well as the mythological framework. Participants will receive a handout with relevant information, including the Latin text and translation.


Small Science for Big Questions [workshop]

Laura Motta (faculty)

The latest advances in molecular and biochemical analysis on archaeological remains have unveiled at the microscopic level a wealth of new information on important debated issues. From ancient DNA to stable isotopes, from trace elements to proteomics, scholars of the Classical world regularly collaborate with scientists expanding the frontiers of historical knowledge. We can now obtain unprecedented insights on migration, mobility, health and diet of the ancient Roman populations; we can track the trade routes and exchange networks of goods and commodities across the Mediterranean; we can explore agricultural systems and investigate pollution; we can understand how the Romans responded to environmental disasters, and much more!


The Bio-archaeology of the Classical World [workshop]

Laura Motta (faculty)  

Hands-on experience with ancient plant and animal remains from Roman sites. (N.B. This workshop is restricted to advanced students who have a serious interest, perhaps in archaeology. Limited to 10 students total.) Hands-on experience with ancient plant and animal remains from Roman sites. 


The Science Behind the Mask [workshop]

Joseph Droegemueller (graduate student)

As we know well, ancient Greek and Roman theater was performed masked. One might think that covering up one’s face while performing tragedy or comedy can only limit the emotional range of the characters the actors portrayed, but recent scientific studies on classical theater and its counterparts from around the world have shown that quite the opposite is true! In this workshop, we will look briefly at some of the ways these masks express emotion, and then make our own and test them out.


The Science of the Roman Empire [lecture]

Ian Fielding (faculty) 

In this lecture, Prof. Fielding will briefly review major Roman achievements in the fields of science and engineering, before explaining how the Romans thought about empire, their conquest and control of other peoples, as a science.


UM Classical Studies Student Panel [panel]

Current students discuss the rewards and challenges of the transition from high school to life in college, including workload, expectations of instructors, dorm realities, and the freedoms and responsibilities of life on one’s own. HS students will have a chance to ask questions they may have as they prepare to start this new chapter in their lives. 


Using Artificial Intelligence to decipher Ancient Scrolls [lecture]

Richard Janko (faculty)

Last year Silicon Valley investors put up $1m in prizes for the first person to read an ancient manuscript from the library of 800 scrolls that was buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that buried the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the year 79. The eruption burned the books but, at the same time, preserved them. However, many of them are too fragile to be opened physically, so researchers have been trying for decades to find a way to read the writing inside without opening them. Come and hear how this has been achieved by using particle-beams and Artificial Intelligence and what we are now finding inside.


What’s in a Name? [lecture]

Ben Fortson (faculty)

A crab named Harryplax severus, a wasp called Lusius malfoyi, another wasp called Ampulex dementor, and a spider named Aname aragog…Harry Potter is all over some recently coined scientific names of new species. So what's the deal anyway with scientific names in biology being in Latin (or Greek), or at least (like these) pretending to be? And should scientists keep using Latin, which fewer people nowadays know, to name new species? This presentation explores (very briefly) the history of these naming practices, spotlights some comical and bizarre names by biologists who got bored, and talks about the pros and cons of recent arguments to do away with this system altogether.





Papyrology Tour 

Brendan Haug (faculty)

See documents from UM’s vast papyrological collection, including unpublished pieces that could not be seen anywhere else. This tour gives students a chance to examine items of material culture up close and gain insight into the life of everyday people from antiquity. (Each tour will be limited to 15 participants.)



In each session, a visit to the Planetarium & Dome Theatre at the Museum of Natural History to learn how to look at the sky, including the importance of being able to look at the sky for telling time and navigation before the development of the atomic clock, GPS, etc. The focus will be the night sky during the spring, especially the constellation of Leo (for a tie-in with the Hercules myth) and the star Regulus (for its importance to Greek, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Chinese civilizations.


Visit to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology 

In each session, two tours of Roman Daily Life at the Kelsey Museum will be offered by docents from the Museum. (Each tour will be limited to 15 participants.)