Rock and Cave Art around the World
Sunday 13th March
Dr Judie English
The best known Palaeolithic cave art comes from France and Spain but contemporary and younger cultures round the world have produced examples which include remarkably similar motifs. At the moment street art is fashionable with centres like Kyev and Melbourne attracting tourists for what used to be called graffiti and removed at great cost. Are there any links? Why do people decorate ‘public’ spaces? Who performs the art and why? What does it tell us about past and present society? Examples will be shown and discussion welcomed!
This talk takes into account the culture of mural art in Kyev while our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine at this devastating time.
The Roman Cult of Mithras
Monday 28th March
Dr David Walsh
How did the cult of Mithras rise from obscure beginnings to become one of the most popular cults in the Roman Empire? Why did the cult's all-male congregations meet in windowless temples to undertake secretive initiation rites, feasts, and processions, and what are the possible meanings behind the cult's peculiar iconography and architecture?
David will explore reasons for why the cult disappeared and challenge the traditional narrative that this was primarily the result of the Christianisation of the Empire. He'll also look into the ways the cult continues to fascinate people in the modern era, including the likes of Rudyard Kipling and Martin Luther King Jr.
Excavations at Abinger Roman villa
Monday 11th April
Following accidental discovery in 1876, six rooms of a Roman villa were excavated. The exact location was then lost until the great storm of 1987 exposed walls and wall plaster. A Surrey Archaeological Society’s training dig (1995-7) led to the scheduling of the site. In 2009 the present project began, partly to answer questions about the villa building, but also to examine its surrounding landscape and locate any ancillary buildings, and to see what came before and after it. The wealth of archaeology found means that this is still ongoing, with evidence for every period of history and prehistory apart from the Palaeolithic. This talk is a whistle-stop tour through over 3,500 square metres of trench and 5,500 years of activity.