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Travelling Back in Time with Ben Kane

15 February 2019

Year 9 were treated to a visit by former veterinarian surgeon and now world-famous author, Ben Kane, to talk about daily life in Rome and Pompeii. 

Having travelled around many archaeological sites himself in order to research material for his historical fiction, Ben could give huge insight into the ancient world and showed pictures of artefacts from a range of museums as well as reconstructions to give a vivid impression of what life was like two thousand years ago. With his former background, he certainly wasn’t squeamish about the difficulties faced in a world without penicillin or effective dentistry! It was fantastic to have such a range of topics explored and so many comparisons made between modern and ancient times, revealing much about what it is to be human. 

Evidence for boundary disputes, marriage, diet, healthcare and sanitation were just some of the topics which revealed both how far we have come and what the Romans have contributed to western civilisation. 

Thank goodness that nowadays we have washing machines instead of slaves and that women have so much more choice and opportunity available to them. Ben showed us several revealing artefacts, from a jar to keep fresh dormice for dinner to tombstones and frescoes where considerable pride was taken in the ability for a woman to read and write. 

Seeing pictures of rings dedicated to their parents and children’s toys along with a baby’s rattle also remind us that amidst gladiatorial battle and fearsome battle tactics, Roman people could also show considerable love and affection for their loved ones. At the end of the talk, Ben showed us his considerable array of objects which reveal so much about the ancient world, including items such as a statue of a household god, a saucepan, oil lamp, glassware and not forgetting his fantastic replica armour. 

Year 9 thoroughly enjoyed taking a closer look at these, trying on some surprisingly heavy chain-mail and inspecting his shield, sword and dagger, as well as having the opportunity to purchase signed books. In a week of Cultural Appreciation at Royal High, we can all safely say that we wholeheartedly appreciate the relative safety and opportunities offered in the modern world, and we thank Ben Kane for coming to speak to us so enthusiastically and knowledgeably about such a rich, vibrant and interesting era.

Miss James

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