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Sicilian Splendours: From Greece to the Normans

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Sicilian Splendours: From Greece to the Normans

We look at the rich art, architecture and history of Sicily – the largest island of the ancient Mediterranean and, in the ancient world, the wealthiest.
First we see the Carthaginians, the first major invaders of Sicily and their distinctive, enigmatic culture, still visible on the small island of Motya. Afterwards come the Greeks, with beautiful cities such as Agrigento, and Syracuse and Segesta, filled with theatres and temples to the gods.
Then we see Roman Sicily, peaceful and prosperous, with cities such as Syracuse and Taormina, and the sumptuous ‘mosaic villa’ of Piazza Armerina. After Rome, and the new Rome of Constantinople, comes the invasion of the Arabs with their revolution in society and agriculture, and then Norman Sicily – an extraordinary artistic flourishing, culminating in the mosaics of the magnificent Norman basilicas.

Lecturer: Paul Roberts

Dr Paul Roberts is Head of the Department of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford University. Paul has been a lecturer with The Arts Society for over twenty years, has travelled extensively to societies across the UK, and has also lectured on numerous cruises in and around the Mediterranean. He studied Classics at the University of Cambridge, and Classical Archaeology at the Universities of Sheffield and Oxford. He then lived in Italy for several years, teaching and researching. He has travelled throughout the former lands of the Roman Empire, from Britain to Syria, and has excavated in Britain, Greece, Libya, Turkey and in particular Italy, where he is currently working on a Roman Villa in the Molise region of the Central Apennines. His research focuses on the daily life of ordinary people in the Greek and Roman worlds, and he has written books and articles on Greek and Roman daily life, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Sicily, Roman Emperors, mummy portraits, and Greek and Roman ceramics and glass. He is now writing a guide to the monuments and Emperors of ancient Rome. From 1994 to 2015 he was Senior Roman Curator in the Greek and Roman Department at the British Museum, where he curated the exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum (2013). Arriving in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford in 2015, he co-curated Storms, War and Shipwrecks: Sicily and the Sea (2016) telling the history of Sicily through shipwreck finds. Most recently (2019/20) at the Ashmolean he curated Last Supper in Pompeii, a tribute to the Roman love affair with food and wine.

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