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Source: University of Canterbury

15 July 2019

When nineteenth century pubs and hotels were rediscovered beneath Canterbury following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, few people would have made the connection to ancient Rome.

  • “One of the ways in which museums can provide opportunities for reflection is by creating exhibitions or activities where the modern and the ancient are juxtaposed – and this event is a really good example.” Museum Curator, Terri Elder

When nineteenth century pubs and hotels were rediscovered beneath Canterbury following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, few people would have made the connection to ancient Rome.

But the connections will be explored in a free, short-format talk session hosted by the University of Canterbury’s Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities next Friday 19 July.

For the public lecture, The Archaeology of Food: ancient and modern, academic and archaeologist come together to explore two very different perspectives – nineteenth century Christchurch, and ancient Rome.

Representing academia, Associate Professor Alison Griffith from the University’s Department of Classics will talk about eating (and drinking!) in the cities of the Roman Empire.

“Starting with how we identify bars and eating establishments archaeologically, I’ll use visual evidence from paintings, relief sculpture, and archaeological remains in Ostia and Pompeii to understand where people bought food, how they prepared it, what their kitchens looked like, what their options were if they decided to eat out, and what kind of dining experience they could expect if they did,” Associate Professor Griffith says.

The archaeological viewpoint comes courtesy of Clara Watson, artefact specialist from Christchurch’s Underground Overground Archaeology, who will discuss her work cataloguing and researching the many weird and wonderful items found in excavations following the Canterbury earthquakes.

The idea of Underground Overground and the Teece Museum ‘combining forces’ for this event was a natural progression for museum curator, Terri Elder after collaborating on other public talks and borrowing artefacts for the exhibition Buried Treasure.

“When I met Clara, she mentioned one of her research interests was in the excavation of bars and hotels, (and) her descriptions of the things they discovered right here in Christchurch reminded me of the descriptions of excavations in Pompeii.”

Ms Elder believes that by considering how cultures change or stay the same, or by comparing different beliefs and concepts across cultures, we can develop greater appreciation and tolerance of other viewpoints.  

“One of the ways in which museums can provide opportunities for reflection is by creating exhibitions or activities where the modern and the ancient are juxtaposed – and this event is a really good example.”

The Archaeology of Food: ancient and modern. Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities, 5.45 – 6.45pm, Friday 19 July 2019. 3 Hereford Street, Christchurch.

MIL OSI