Browse Exhibits (9 total)

Betty Fletcher: Lover of Wisdom, Lover of Beauty, Lover of Humanity

In 2017, The Alumni Friends of the University of Queensland celebrates its 50th Anniversary. To mark this important anniversary, Betty Fletcher: Lover of Wisdom, Lover of Beauty, Lover of Humanity explores the life and legacy of Betty Fletcher, a keen supporter of the Alumni Friends of UQ, Friends of Antiquity, Antiquities Museum and the University of Queensland. 

In 1991 the Friends of Antiquity, a support group of the Alumni Friends of UQ, established the Betty Fletcher Memorial Fund, which maintains a travelling scholarship enabling a student studying Classics and Ancient History at UQ to travel to any place that was part of the civilisations of Rome or Ancient Greece. The first Travelling Scholarship was awarded in 1992.

The physical exhibition to accompany this online show can be viewed in the main office of the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, Level 3, Forgan Smith Building, UQ, from August 2017.

The Fr. Leo Hayes Collection of Ancient Coins


In 1967, the University of Queensland acquired the remarkable and wide ranging collection of Fr. Leo Hayes, parish priest of St Monica’s Church in Oakey, Queensland. The collection comprised over 50,000 books and manuscripts, along with historical and ethnographic artefacts and a significant collection of ancient coins. By 1979 this coin collection had found its way to the Antiquities Museum, forming the basis of its Late Antique numismatic holdings. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Fr. Hayes’ donation, and to explore the importance of philanthropy to Museums at UQ, the Museum presents a selection of his collection for public display in 2017.

50 Years of Giving

Over the past 50 years, the Alumni Friends of The University of Queensland (previously the Alumni Association of The University of Queensland), have contributed seventeen ancient artefacts and other works to the collection of the R.D. Milns Antiquities Museum. 

These works are both historically and monetarily valuable and have enabled the Museum to fulfil its mission to educate Queenslanders about the past for over 50 years. In 2017 the Alumni Friends of The University of Queensland celebrates its Golden Jubilee and this exhibition explores the significance of the philanthropic contributions made by the Alumni Friends since their foundation.

Sixteen of the seventeen objects presented here are on show at the RD Milns Antiquities Museum Gallery in late 2017 and early 2018. Visit us at Level 2, Building 9, UQ St Lucia Campus.

Patronage: Emperor and Empire

‘The Emperor… who played the role of great patron well, had no need of guards because he was protected by his benefits.’
Seneca, On Clemency, 1.13.5

In Roman society, patronage was a relationship established between two parties of unequal status and resources. All forms of patronage were reciprocal and continuous in nature, and were governed by moral obligations rather than the law. Patronage relationships underpinned the social cohesion and stability of the Roman Empire. The Emperor was the most important patron in Rome and the Empire.

The Emperor was patron to individuals and groups. In return for the support of the masses, the Emperor offered public amenities and entertainment, and handouts of grain and money. The elite helped him to govern the Empire, to keep it secure and to promote his achievements. In return, he provided administrative and military positions, exemption from legal constraints, and support for literary figures. He might also help the elite to fulfil their own obligations as private patrons.

Useless Beauty: Luxury and Rome

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“Nothing can please luxury unless it is expensive.”
Seneca, Natural Questions, 4b.13.4

Luxuria (extravagance, luxury, excess) was a problematic concept for the Romans: it undermined ancestral customs and encouraged ‘un-Roman’ practices. In Roman moral discourse, luxuria destabilised the social order by encouraging behaviour that directed attention away from civic and familial duties.

Roman men, through their actions and attire, were supposed to strive for virtus (moral excellence), gravitas (seriousness conveying dignity), continentia (self-control) and frugalitas (frugality). Roman women were expected to demonstrate munditia (elegance of appearance) by wearing respectable clothing and modest amounts of jewellery and make up. Their pudicitia (modesty and chastity) and fides (trustworthiness and honesty) was linked to their domestic roles within the household. Extravagant lifestyles built around foreign imports, Roman moralists claimed, provided only fleeting pleasures. Those who indulged themselves were likely to suffer personal demise, and at the same time destabilise the Roman state.

Useless Beauty explores the tension which arose in Rome, between the appeal of a lifestyle based on a new culture of consumption, and the importance of maintaining an austere set of traditional Roman values. Roman writers often reflect this conflict through both criticism and parody of extravagance. However, despite the condemnation of Roman moralists, and attempts by Roman leaders to curb the display of luxuria, it is clear that many Romans had no desire to return to the frugal lifestyle once advocated by Cato the Elder.

Exhibition Partners: John Elliott Classics Museum, Hobart Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, Caboolture.

Designed by: Mr James Donaldson.

A Study in Stone

‘The history of classical antiquity could not be written without epigraphy...’

- Professor John Bodel

Welcome to A Study in Stone: The History of Epigraphy. This exhibition will give you a fascinating insight into the history of classical inscriptions. Like many of the artefacts in our collection, Latin and Greek inscriptions often have interesting collecting histories.

Collecting histories make it possible for us to trace how inscriptions travelled from their original locations in Greece or Italy to places such as Lowther Castle in the UK before ending up in museum collections around the world. We invite you to share in the stories, not only of the people from antiquity honoured on these burial memorials, but also of modern travellers who collected them, and of scholars who catalogued them. It is through the interest and dedication of these people that we have the wonderful written accounts, illustrations and artefacts that we share with you today.

Most inscriptions in stone were written in Latin and Greek capitals. Many words were abbreviated to single letters, maximizing the use of space wherever possible. Although this exhibition focuses on funerary inscriptions in stone, messages carved in Latin and Greek were used, for example, to record official laws (often in bronze), list achievements on honorific statues and monuments, to create calendars and fasti, even to stamp pottery and to record personal messages.

Today epigraphists are interested in both the cultural contexts in which inscriptions were used as well as the material they contain.

Contested Histories: Photographs from Mandate Palestine in the JH Iliffe Collection


Contested Histories presents a selection of photographs from the archive of John Henry "Harry" Iliffe, the first Keeper of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, Jerusalem, between 1931 and 1948.  These largely unpublished photographs are a fascinating record of Iliffe's time in Mandate-Era Palestine (present day Israel and Palestinian territories).

This exhibition examines the role of archaeology and museums in recording the past by exploring Iliffe's role in establishing the Jerusalem museum in the complex social, political, historical, and religious setting of Mandate Palestine.  It challenges the viewer to consider how notions of "history" can be constructed, not only through writing and images, but also through physical spaces such as buildings and monuments, and especially the seemingly neutral setting of a museum.

The JH Iliffe Collection is held by the Fryer Library, University of Queensland Library.

Dionysos: Portrait of a God


I salute you, Dionysos of the abundant grape clusters: grant that we may come again in happiness at the due time, and time after time for many a year.

- Homeric Hymn 26 to Dionysos


Dionysos, protective god of the vine, was also the god of regeneration and transformation. He offered his ecstatic followers the opportunity to transcend their everyday lives through cult, theatre, the mysteries, and ultimately, the afterlife.

Unlike other gods, Dionysos was a powerful self-revelatory role model to his initiates. Although his image and cult were defined by very distinct features, he also played an important part in mainstream Greek religion, particularly as god of wine and of the theatre. Dionysiac ritual was accompanied by revelry and license.

Of all the Greek gods, Dionysos’ image was the most frequently represented in art. He was a god whose character was based on illusion, transformation, ambiguity, impersonation and the coexistence of opposite traits. He was thus both man and beast, male and effeminate, youthful and mature. We invite you to explore a few of the many faces of Dionysos and his playful, mysterious and, at times, dark world.

Fake!: Faked, Forged and Replica Ancient Coins


For centuries reproducing ancient coins has been big business. However, even experts can have trouble spotting them. Sometimes replicas or copies of coins were made for good reasons, but occasionally they were made for more devious purposes. 

So how do you tell a fake ancient coin from a real one?