Excavating ancient Macedonia: public lecture at UNE

Published 31 August 2012

In a free public lecture at the University of New England next week, Richard Murphy will talk about his experiences excavating Roman remains and restoring Byzantine mosaics on the site of Heraclea Lyncestis, an ancient city in Macedonia.

As the winner of last year’s Caswell and Mulligan International Travel Bursary from UNE, Richard spent two weeks in July 2011 at the archaeological field school conducted on the site by Balkan Heritage.

“I knew the city had been founded by Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BC,” Richard said, “and when I arrived there I discovered that I’d be excavating material from the Roman period in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. We were working in the shadow of a massive amphitheatre built by the Emperor Hadrian.

“On the very first day I dug up shards of Roman pottery; it was an amazing experience. I found that getting out there and getting your hands dirty really brings history to life.”

The lecture, hosted by Classics and Ancient History within UNE’s School of Humanities, will be in the UNE Arts Building (Lecture Theatre A2) at 7 pm on Friday 7 September. Titled “Philip of Macedon’s legacy: Excavating the Byzantine mosaics of Heraclea Lyncestis”, it will be preceded by complimentary refreshments from 6.30 pm and everyone is welcome.

Richard Murphy has completed his undergraduate studies at UNE. He will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree (majoring in Ancient History) during one of this year’s Spring Graduation ceremonies at UNE, and is considering starting a Master’s degree program next year. “My main research interest is the expansion – and provincial government – of the Roman Empire,” he said, “so the Heraclea Lyncestis dig was perfect for my first experience of ancient archaeology. I learnt about the whole fastidious procedure of archaeology – including its meticulous recording.”

The Caswell and Mulligan International Travel Bursary, donated through the School of Humanities by Dr Gabi Caswell and her husband Stefan Mulligan, is worth $2,500. Richard was its second annual recipient. During his month-long journey last year, he travelled to Heraclea Lyncestis from Thessaloniki in Greece, and then through Bulgaria to Istanbul.