UWCSA hosts fourth annual Colloquium on Zoom

Fri. Feb. 26, 2021

The University of Winnipeg Classics Students Association held their annual undergraduate research colloquium – now in its fourth year – via Zoom on February 26th, from 1:00-3:00PM. UWCSA president McKenzie Stewart introduced the colloquium and then turned things over to four students who gave three presentations.


The Lux Project: COVID Edition, presented by Bourke Karras and Kira Lang

Bourke Karras and Kira Lang discussed their work with UWinnipeg’s Lux Project, which aims to understand the history of the Hetherington Collection of Roman and Egyptian Artifacts and share the collection with the broader world outside of the University. The two of them gave a short history of the project before they delved into how things changed when the COVID-19 pandemic closed campus in March 2020. Instead of being able to work in a lab, measure and analyze artifacts, and take photos, the Lux Project group turned to online research work and outreach. Bourke explained how she used digitized archives at the University of Manitoba to access notebooks and other material rom the early 20th century that pertains to how these artifacts ended up in Winnipeg; she suggested that a network of Methodist institutions participated in funding digs in Egypt and therefore obtaining artifacts. Kira Lang discussed the other objects beyond lamps in the Hetherington Collection and presented on the use of Shabti and other grave goods in ancient Egyptian funerary ritual. Both presenters pointed to the public outreach aspect of Lux: students have made worksheets for elementary and middle school students (and their homeschooling parents), and the group has plans to use “Google Expedition” to make more outreach efforts.

View the presentation on YouTube


Considering Perspective: Understanding the Culture of the Hyksos, presented by Ryna Humniski

Ryna Humniski took us on an exploration of the mysterious Hyksos people, who supposedly invaded and conquered Egypt in the middle of the 16th century BCE. As Ryna pointed out, the Hyksos have been a mystery for years, though current research, especially on human remains, suggests that some oft hem, at least men, were not in fact recent “invaders” of Egypt, but rather foreign peoples who had settled, in some cases, for several generations. Ryna observed that history and archaeology tends to flatten out what are in fact the complex social identities that people have; the Hyksos (the name is Egyptian and not what they called themselves) may have been at times “foreign” or “Egyptian” regardless of the way that ancient Egyptian history (and some modern history) has understood them. Indeed, as Ryna concluded, peoples – then and now – are hard to fit into silos or boxes when it comes to various identities, and a challenge of historical research is to replicate this variety, not reduce it.


Theodora's True Power, presented by Spencer Paddock

Spencer Paddock’s presentation concerned one of the most famous women in Classical Antiquity, the Byzantine empress Theodora. Spencer contended that Theodora was one of the most powerful women in all of ancient history, and indeed in world history, at least until the reign of Elizabeth I of England. He presented a biography of the empress, from her humble origins as the daughter of a bear-baiter to her time on stage (and supposed occupation as a sex worker). As Spencer pointed out, in some Greek literary sources, Theodora is derided, especially for what some writers see as her undue influence on Justinian, but history shows that she wielded greater power: for example, she suggested that armed force be used to suppress the Nika Riots in 532 CE. Moreover, Theodora’s depiction in artwork of the period evinces a powerful empress, with a following all her own, especially among the Monophystite Christian community to which she belonged and which she championed.

View the presentation on YouTube


Screen shot of UWCSA Zoom Colloquium