Earlier this term, around 80 students from Years 9, 10, 11 and 12 were honoured to witness the renowned archaeologist Dr Estelle Lazer lecture on her experiences and findings from her work on site at Pompeii and Herculenum. It was a particularly exciting event as Year 12 have been studying Pompeii since Term 4 of 2016.
Dr Lazer has made recurrent appearances in our textbooks and readings, deepening our understanding of all aspects of the ancient Italian towns, so it was great to see and hear her in the flesh! Furthermore, Dr Lazer is one of the pioneers in modern archaeological research, being one of the first involved in the scanning and X-raying of the famous plaster casts (now replaced with the semitransparent epoxy serum) of Pompeii.
Dr Lazer talked extensively on many topics including the newly uncovered theory regarding the planned escape of those in Herculeneum, where bodies of men were found across the ancient beach front and the remains of women and children found in the bathhouses reveal a plan may have been in place for the eruption of Vesuvius.
We were especially lucky to be granted access to Dr Lazer’s personal collection of images, including teeth, jaw bone remains, and X-ray images, all of which contribute greatly to our understanding of the past, specifically, diet, health, and causes of death.
Ultimately, the experience was a fantastic gift for all students, especially as HSC students now have access to unpublished, direct quotes from Dr Lazer which can be used in our exams that will hopefully give us the edge we are all searching for. It was an utter privilege to listen to such a wise and insightful lecture on the ancient world, delivered by an individual so cataclysmic in changing our understandings of the past.
The engaging two-hour lecture was enjoyed by all students present, if only to witness the dedication and deep passion one woman can have for her work. Additionally, it was a life-changing experience for the teachers of the History Department who visibly attempted but failed to hide their star-struck response to this world famous archaeologist.
Kate Coffey, Year 12