I was in Erie Pennsylvania last weekend attending the AAH annual meeting and I found it wonderful to be immersed in antiquity and away from the real world for a couple of days.
There were 90 in attendance including representatives from Britain, New Zealand, Finland, Germany, and Russia. The presentations were set up in panels with a moderator and three or four presenters on a particular topic. After the papers were given, the moderator would present his own views or comment on the other presentations. Questions then followed.
Recent graduates seemed uniformly nervous, often reading their papers without looking up. The more experienced ones were at ease with their subject and it showed.
My overall reaction (no surprise) was how specific the presentations were. Topics outside my areas of interest were hard to sit through. For example, The Euergetism of Piety: Palymira, Cult, and Greek Civic Benefaction.
Still there was much to be interested in.
One panel’s topic was New Directions in Warfare. Papers included, Moral Contexts of the Roman Siege and Centurions: Discipline, Violence, and Authority in the Roman Army.
Another, The First Punic War, featured Forgotten POWs in the First Punic War and The Claudii and the First Punic War.
One of the presenters serves as the historical advisor to the Starz series Spartacus, Blood and Sand and he had many interesting stories to tell about his battles with the script writers over historical accuracy. He lost most of the time because of production constraints, story flow, or the need for dramatic impact.
I never was able to locate the kind of history I write in this blog at the meeting – multi-disciplinary with presentation of large issues. These guys (and gals) live in History and Classics departments which stick to their topics (in minutia). The intent is toward new work, new research -- not trying to make a bigger picture out of what’s already known. In the end, I’m happy I don’t have to live with their constraints.