What is Ancient Worlds?

The basic answer is ‘it’s my blog’, and you can have a look here to see a bit more about who I am and what kind of things I do. To a certain extent it is going to be your typical academic’s personal blog – anything I want to talk about that I think might be of interest to a wider, non-specialist audience. But I also want to do something a little more specific with this – not an exclusive remit, but a special interest, if you like.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have two main areas of interest: one is the ancient world, and especially my research focus in the Mediterranean Bronze and Iron Ages; the other could be broadly summed up by saying I’m a massive geek, subsisting on a diet of science fiction, fantasy and video games. I’m going to post something a bit more in-depth about this shortly, but for a long time it’s seemed to me that there’s more in common between the historical and the fantastical than you might think. Both involve extrapolating worlds from contemporary material culture, ideas or culture. It’s a tenet of modern archaeology and historiography that we can never get at an objective ‘reality’ of the past – because hey, if we can’t agree on an objective reality of the present, what hope do we have? So any past we reconstruct is, to some degree, an imaginary world; a plausible fiction based rigorously on available evidence. Creating, exploring and evaluating these possible worlds seems to me to be not dissimilar to what we do with science fiction and fantasy.

So that’s the basic idea. What does it mean for this blog?

Ancient Worlds is particularly interested in exploring the intersection of the ancient world and the science fiction/fantasy sphere, in how we imagine each and how these ideas inform each other. So it’ll be looking at reception of the ancient in science fiction and fantasy media, but also how ideas we might see as fantastical have their roots or reflexes in antiquity. Anyone who read my posts on Res Gerendae will have a fair idea what to expect by this point, but in short, Ancient Worlds is interested in the monsters, the ghosts and the stop-motion skeletons; in all the parallel universes where Rome never fell, and in that time the TARDIS visited Minoan Thera.

Does that sound like fun? I hope it will be!

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