'Travels with an Archaeologist' lecture at Penn Museum. 17 October 2017

October 16, 2017

Prior to becoming President of The American University of Rome I was the Williams Director of Penn Museum and it gives me great pleasure to be returning to the museum on Tuesday (October 17) evening to talk about my newest book "Travels with an Archaeologist: Finding a Sense of Place".  A book signing and reception will follow - if you are in the area, please come along.




For those who don't yet know "Travels with an Archaeologist: Finding a Sense of Place" here's detail from a previous interview I gave to The American University of Rome press:


Dr. Mary Beard,Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, Royal Academy of Arts Professor of Ancient Literature, and the Classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement, describes Dr. Richard Hodges new book as ‘An insider’s view of archaeology for the curious!’ She goes on to state ‘Hodges claims he became an archaeologist “to travel to the past”. Here is a wonderful and intriguing collection of his postcards from that journey.’


President Hodges explains Travels with an Archaeologist, published by Bloomsbury and scheduled for release on the 4th May 2017, as a series of essays ‘about places and people, and above all their spirit.’  For Dr. Hodges, archaeology is about ‘hearing, smelling, tasting and touching past textures in our time. With these senses, in the company of friends, new places are created from old ones.’ This publication allows we, the readers, walk with the archaeologist as he explores sites across the globe and ponders the relationship of the individual with the past and present of the past in its ruins, its monuments and traces of distant worlds and civilizations.


‘ From Albania to Yemen, Hodges has written an immensely readable book that will inspire the archaeologist in all of us. Part travelogue, part historical account, he shares his experiences with some of the most fascinating characters and sites of our times. Travels with an Archaeologist is a sensory adventure full of scholarly insights and wry observations gathered together over a remarkable career in archaeology.’
Lynn Meskell, Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University, USA.



Having, as it were, exclusive access to Dr. Hodges, we put a few questions to him to better understand the process of compiling these essays and to understand a bit more about what the five senses bring to the experience of an archaeologist:


Q1. Each essay within this book conveys a fantastic sense of place – did you write the descriptive elements in situ or do you write from your recollections?
A1.  ‘I wrote all of the pieces from memory, enjoying those memories immensely as I wrote.’


Q2. Which of the senses, for you, is the most useful as an archaeologist.
A2. ‘Good question. Honestly, sight is essential, but smell is quite particular. I shall always think of Knidos as I smell thyme.’


Q3. Which of the senses do you find is the most evocative?
A3. ‘For me, sound, without doubt. Macaws in the Mayan site of Copan – nothing quite like it as the jungle came alive in the morning.’


Q4.  If you could stimulate one reaction from your readers when they close your book, what would it be?
A4. ‘Travel. Travel and immerse yourself in a past place, not so much listening to its history but finding your own sensual connection with the place.’

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Preface and acknowledgements

1. Introduction: An archaeologist’s sense of the past Part 1: In the Company of Placemaking People
2. In Charles Newton’s Shadow: Searching for Demeter at Knidos
3. Wim van Es and the Discovery of the Dutch ‘Troy’, Dorestad
4. Johnny Mitchell and San Vincenzo al Volturno’s First Saint
5. Riccardo and Quinto – Place-making at ‘Lost’ Tuscan villages
6. Breakfast with Colin Renfrew
7. Reviewing Lisa Fentress at Alatri
8. With Giussy Nicolini where the Blue Begins
9. Remembering Albanian Heroines


Part 2 Finding the senses

10. Boreal Butrint and its Golden Oriels
11. Sublimity: Hidden in the Togate’s Folds
12. Fireworks at Copán


13. Seeing beyond Sparta: Mistra
14. Sights and sanctuary at Saranda
15. Cavernous Spectacles of Colour: S. Michele at Olevano and the Crypt of the Original Sin
16. A Renaissance Dream House at Visegrád


17. The smell of the Desert: Doha and Al Zubarah
18. Smelling Spices in Sana’a
19. The Disturbing Scent of Gold – Rosia Montana, Transylvania


20. Tuscan Cooking Classes and S.Pietro d’Asso
21. Red Mullet and Retsina on Aegina
22. The taste of Key Lime Pie


23. Touching ‘Gold’ in Gordion
24. In touch with Rome’s Ex-pat dead: Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery
25. Bunga bunga?



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