Meet the Volunteers: Gary

Gary at the theatre of Ephesus.
Copyright: Gary Fisher. License: All rights reserved.

Tell us about yourself:

I am a PhD student within the University of Nottingham’s department of Classics. My research examines the reception of the ancient world in early America and my thesis focuses on how the ancient world was portrayed in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century American theatre.

What does your role involve?

I examine, identify, and record objects of archaeological interest submitted to the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

What area of history/archaeology are you most interested in?

I am primarily interested in how eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Americans understood and deployed classical imagery and political philosophy. In particular, I want to examine how American playwrights and audiences used theatrical portrayals of the ancient world as a medium through which to understand and influence their contemporary circumstances. Despite my research being a step removed from the ancient material that forms its basis I maintain an active interest in numerous strands of classical inquiry, such as Greek and Latin literature, classical political philosophy, and Spartan historiography. Through my involvement in the PAS I have developed my understanding of the material culture of numerous periods of British history.

Why did you start volunteering for the PAS?

I joined the PAS for a variety of reasons, chief among which was a desire to augment and indulge my, admittedly quite amateurish, interest in numismatics. Despite my research’s focus on more modern periods I am keen to stay engaged with all manner of historical enquiry and volunteering within the PAS affords me the opportunity to do so within a lively and engaging environment.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for the PAS?

My favourite thing about working within the PAS, in addition to being able to work closely with enthusiastic amateurs and experts, is being able to observe my own skills in handling material culture develop. While I have only been volunteering for a short period of time my ability to identify artifacts, particularly Roman coinage, has drastically improved and I am now able to independently recognise and attribute pieces of Roman currency from a variety of periods.

What is your favourite find from Nottinghamshire that has been recorded on the PAS database and why?

I am particularly enamoured with a golden Iron Age torc found near Newark (DENO-4B33B7). While its gold content is certainly a draw, I find myself interested in torcs more because they seem so emblematic of pre-Roman Britain. When I see a torc I can’t help but imagine it adorning the neck of a shirtless celtic warrior, daubed in woad, of the type one sees illustrated in books such as those by Osprey Publishing. Viewing this artefact unfailingly transports me back to my childhood, spending rainy days poring over such images till they were inexorably ingrained on my mind, and reminds me why I first chose to dedicate myself to the study of history.

The Newark Torc.
The Newark Torc (DENO-4B33B7). Copyright: The British Museum. License: CC BY.