News release

Peopling the Past: Digital humanities initiative explores new ways of teaching and learning about our ancient world

October 30, 2020

A new digital humanities initiative see six scholars come together from a diverse range of fields, including archaeology, anthropology, art history, philology, classical and religious studies, and others within the broader humanities discipline, to explore the ancient world.

The new initiative, Peopling the Past, functions as a cross-media platform that hosts a blog, podcast, educational videos, and other online resources that allows audiences to learn about people from the ancient world and the scholars that study them. While the project currently focuses on ancient cultures surrounding the Mediterranean sea, in the future the project will look to expand its regions and historical periods of study.

Our very own Hellenic Studies Professor of Aegean and Mediterranean Societies and Cultures, Dr. Sabrina Higgins, is one of the founders of the initiative, whose own research currently focuses on material evidence for the cult of the Virgin Mary in Late Antique Egypt.

While the name “Peopling the Past” might at first seem strange, it is potently accurate. The project’s website already has eight podcast episodes, six videos and six blog posts, each of which delves into a unique practice, society, or culture experienced by the people of our ancient past. So far topics have ranged anywhere from Phoenician migration to using the Loch Ness Monster to uncover links between the Celtic and Greek languages. With each new post, audiences are encouraged to look beyond status-quo political narratives and stereotypes and learn about the lesser-known stories of the real people who lived in ancient times.

And the best part?

Peopling the Past provides an entirely free, open-access platform, accessible for all audiences. Whether you are a student or teacher, the platform will appeal to you with bite-sized videos, podcasts, and articles, and lists of resources. The size of the content makes it easily consumable, leaving you with an insatiable desire to learn more.

In Dr. Higgins' first contribution to the platform’s content, she talks about female agency and the Cult of Saint Thecla. Ironically, one of the unexpected outcomes of the initiative might be its ability to inspire agency in young female audiences contemplating a career in liberal arts and the humanities. Witnessing six impressive female archaeologists, historians, and philologists from across Canada and the United States collaborate and pave the way in what have historically been male-dominated academic fields sounds pretty inspiring to us.

To learn more about Peopling the Past, visit or find them at @PeoplingThePast on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

For more information about the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies and its programs, please visit our Media page.

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