Is this Sparta? Legend and Reality with Helena Meskanen

Is this Sparta? Legend and Reality with Helena Meskanen


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Ancient Sparta continues to evoke strong images of a warrior state, with discipline, training, and glory at its core. Fighting to the last man and enduring grueling education are some of the hyper-masculine aspects of Spartan society common in popular culture. But was this the ancient reality?

Studying ancient Sparta is a tricky business. Most of the literary sources describing Spartan society come from their enemies, or hundreds of years after the time they are describing, and we are left to tease out the criticism and legend from reality. Modern writing often focuses on Spartan training and warfare, leaving out large sections of the population and aspects of Spartan culture. During this conversation, we will examine life in ancient Sparta, focusing less on warfare, and more on women, education, art, and religion. While excavations (and the uncovered remains) of the ancient city have been more limited than those in the large public areas of cities like Athens and Corinth, enough material has been found to paint a picture of a fascinating city with a range of activities beyond what the typical warfare image gives us. Sculpture, poetry, and festivals are just some of the things we will be discussing. We will finish our Conversation with an exploration of Sparta in popular culture and dispel some persistent myths.

Led by an expert on Spartan archaeology, Dr. Helena Meskanen, this interactive seminar will offer a deep dive into lesser-known parts of Spartan culture. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a more diverse picture of life in this fascinating city-state.

Dr. Helena Meskanen is an archaeologist specializing in ancient Greece, with research focusing on ancient Spartan religion. She has been leading tours of the British Museum for 3 years and feels passionate about the wide range of objects on display, and the stories they tell about the museum and the cultures that created them.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

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J
J.
Excellent and surprising view of Spartan culture

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
100%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
J
J.
Excellent and surprising view of Spartan culture