Inspired by the study ‘Children as Learners and Producers in Ancient Greece’ by Susan Langdon, we (Laura and Ellen) have been exploring underrepresented voices in Ancient Greece. With a focus on child producers, we have been studying the ways in which these voices can be identified within the archaeological record and within our archaeology collection. This project has come with highlights and challenges. Furthermore, working within a pandemic has impacted the ways in which we have carried out our investigation in various ways. This blog post is our reflection on the past couple of months.
Working on this project has really opened my eyes to the areas of ancient Greek scholarship and archaeology that are underrepresented and deserve more of a spotlight. Before researching these areas of ancient Greece for our ‘Child Potters in Ancient Greece’ blog I was naive to how much there is still to learn about certain features of classical history, especially the lives of children and manufacturers. Widening my understanding of this and seeing it first hand and using CAHA’s collection has definitely been the highlight of this project for me.
A big challenge of this project for me was not getting carried away with the amount that there is to explore about this topic. Throughout our blog, it has been our aim to keep child potters and CAHA’s collection at the core. However, this focus has been difficult to maintain when there is so much to say and find out about underrepresented voices in the ancient world. I found that I would end up down rabbit holes of scholarship and had to keep pulling myself to the topic we were meant to be tackling. Luckily we had Maeve McHugh, our supervisor, to keep us on track and centred on our project’s goals.
Working with CAHA’s teaching collection on campus has to be one of my favourite parts about this research project. Analysing material culture and making our own interpretations is something that not every undergraduate student has the opportunity to do, so I feel extremely fortunate that we have such a fantastic collection to work with, as well as the much-appreciated guidance of Maeve. The research we conducted as a team surrounding silenced voices, both from the ancient world and within modern academia, has aided me in understanding the steps we must take as a discipline to become more inclusive. Working with my research partner Ellen has been a wonderful experience and I sincerely hope we get to do something similar to this in the future!
The biggest challenge I faced, much like Ellen, was staying focused on the task at hand; it’s very easy to become entirely absorbed into such an interesting topic! Other challenges included working around Covid-19 restrictions to handle the objects in a safe way (which I’m glad to say we managed to do!) as well as working remotely from home. In the end, everything was achieved with the resources we had available, and I’m very proud of what we have produced as a team.
Working within a Pandemic
Coronavirus has definitely changed the way in which we’ve gone about this project. Zoom meetings, for me, has been one of the biggest adjustments. Living with a large group of students that are all working from home has meant that our internet has been slow at the best of times. This from the beginning has been an obstacle for me, with my internet cutting out just as I began the interview for this project. Many lessons have been learnt from this about working on a group project online that I’m sure will be valuable in the future.
As is the case for pretty much everybody, Covid-19 has really restricted our access to important materials this semester, including the library and the artefacts themselves. Although I am proud to say that we worked around these issues, there were certainly times where it seemed like an uphill struggle!
Special mention: We’d just like to say a huge thank you to Dr. Maeve McHugh for your guidance throughout this entire project. Your enthusiasm and direction truly helped us to keep on going through all the difficulties we faced, and we could not have done this without you!
We hope that our readers have enjoyed this research project as much as we have enjoyed creating it! Many thanks to everybody who left a comment, asked us questions on social media and showed it our work to their friends. We’ve gained some great support throughout the entire research process, and we hope we’ve inspired some of you to take on your own research side projects to find new and exciting knowledge!
Ellen and Laura
Langdon, S. 2013. ‘Children as learners and producers in early Greece’ in Grubbs, J.E. and T. Parkin (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World (Oxford).