You're viewing an archived page from a previous Festival of Ideas. See this year's festival »

Theme: Revealing the Ancient World

Learn more about myths, atheism in the ancient Mediterranean and the origin of the Celts. Find out why artists frequently return to ancient Greece for answers, and about the history of our maritime planet. Explore these and other fascinating aspects of the Ancient World. 

What's on

Fri
17
Jun

Staging Greek Tragedy Today

Why and how do artists return to the tragedies of ancient Greece to address our concerns about sex, war and loss? What can the stories of Hecuba, Medea or Hercules – and his wife/killer Deianira - tell us about the world we live in today? Join Fiona Macintosh of the University of Oxford and Richard Rowland of the University of York to find out more.

Wed
15
Jun

Deep Blue: Towards a Maritime Deep History of our Planet

The sea has connected humanity for millennia. Yet while our planet is predominantly blue, our histories of its ancient people are far too brown and green. Now archaeology, charged with astonishing new finds, reveals a deeper time and the largely untold history of the origins and expansion of our maritime planet. Join Cyprian Broodbank of the University of Cambridge as he tells that story from a Mediterranean and global perspective.

Wed
15
Jun

Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World

How new is atheism? Tim Whitmarsh, author of Battling the Gods, journeys into the ancient Mediterranean to recover the stories of those who first refused the divinities. Tim explores the origins of the secular values at the heart of the modern state, revealing how atheism and doubt, far from being modern phenomena, have intrigued the human imagination for thousands of years.

Mon
13
Jun

What is it? When is it From? Tracking Time with Objects

The two most fundamental questions archaeologists ask when dealing with artefacts from the past are ‘what is it?’ and ‘when is it from?’ Archaeologist Barry Crump uses ideas from Philosophy and Literary Theory to explore how these two questions - and their answers - are more interesting and more complex than we often assume.

Mon
13
Jun

Bog Bodies Uncovered: Solving Europe’s Ancient Mystery

Over the past two centuries, peat cutters in the bogs of northern Europe have periodically unearthed the remains of prehistoric people so well-preserved that skin and marks of injury survive, betraying the violence of their death. Who were these unfortunate people, and why were they killed? Drawing on the latest research and evidence on bog bodies, Miranda Aldhouse-Green uncovers the truth behind these murder mysteries.

Thu
9
Jun

Who are the Celts?

New discoveries in genetics have overturned decades of dogma about the origin of the Celts. Earlier attempts to trace historical and prehistorical movements using only modern DNA from living people have been proved dramatically wrong by findings from ancient DNA. So who exactly were the Celts? Are the modern Celtic-speakers of the British Isles and Brittany related to the Continental Celts we know from ancient history?

Wed
8
Jun

Mythology: The Complete Guide to our Imagined Worlds

Myths in every culture explain our origins, the Earth's creation, gods and monsters, demons, the afterlife and the underworld. Join author Christopher Dell for an illustrated journey through extraordinary mythical stories from around the world. He shows how myths share many common patterns, how the human imagination is expressed in all its diversity and asks the question: what do myths tell us about the human condition?

Festival themes