Objects in the CAHA museum.
Objects in the CAHA museum.

University of Birmingham is home to a collection of over 2000 objects ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome. As part of Being Human Festival, the Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology (CAHA) museum at the University of Birmingham will be opening its doors on Saturday 18 November for two events.

The first being a writing workshop with writer and poet Mandy Ross encouraging participants to write in response to ancient human artefacts. Experts will be on hand from the department of CAHA and the poet Josephine Balmer.  

Leading on to an open afternoon event with poet Josephine Balmer, known for her acclaimed translations of the ancient lyric poets, Sappho and Catullus. She has been asked to make a selection of her favourite pieces from these treasures. Attendees will be introduced to Josephine’s chosen objects – a heart-rending epitaph for a small Roman boy, a beautiful Athenian vase, a stunning winged goddess amulet from Egypt and many more, and hear Josephine read her brand-new poetic responses to the ancient objects.

I am very excited to be taking part in Being Human 2023 and to be working with the wonderful poet and translator Josephine Balmer on ‘An Archaeology of Love’, a project which shows how emotional and subjective responses to ancient objects can help us to understand the past and ourselves. The exquisite blue faience heart amulet from the Eton Myers Collections touched the poet’s heart immediately when she came to visit- the resulting poem, titled ‘Weighing of the heart’ has touched me too, with its reminder of the fragility of lives both past and present.

Dr Elena Theodorakopoulos, Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Birmingham.
Dr Elena Theodorakopoulos

Following on from the previous events, the Eton Myers Collection is holding an open afternoon from 1:00 - 3:00pm on the 28 November at the Orchard Learning Resource Centre in the Mingana Room. 

The Eton Myers is an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities gathered by Major W. J. Myers in the late 19th century and eventually bequeathed to Eton College upon his death. Since 2011, a substantial part of the Eton Myers collection is on loan to the the University of Birmingham for teaching and research purposes.

The objects from the Eton Myers Collection are connected to the new poems are on a special display throughout November, at the Orchard Learning Resource Centre in the Mingana Room and can be visited on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00am – 3:30pm during the month of November.