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Dr Craig Barker
Manager of Education and Public Programs, Sydney University Museums
The University of Sydney has been excavating the site of the ancient theatre at the World Heritage listed site of Nea Paphos in Cyprus since 1995. The theatre, constructed in around 300 BC was used as a venue for performance and spectacle until its ultimate destruction in the late fourth century AD, over six and a half centuries later. The theatre underwent at least five phases of architectural remodelling and renovation during the Hellenistic and Roman era, each leaving its trace archaeologically, and traces of ancient artistic traditions through fragmentary marble sculptural remains and fresco paintings on the theatre’s walls. Through careful stratigraphic excavation we can now retrace this rich history of the site, as well as its post-theatrical life with links to the Crusaders and Venetians. The Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project has also revealed much information about the urban precinct surrounding the theatre, which we now know reflect the wealth and privilege of the most important Roman city on the island: wide paved roads, a nymphaeum and a colonnaded façade of the second century AD.
As well as acting as a training ground for Australian archaeologists and students, one of the most exciting aspects of the excavations has been the program of working with visiting Australian visual artists, including Angela Brennan, who have responded to ancient Cyprus and the process of archaeology in their own creative work. This talk will also explore the fascinating links between ancient culture and contemporary art that the excavations have revealed.
Dr Craig Barker is an archaeologist and museum worker. He is Manager of Education and Public Programs, Sydney University Museums, overseeing school and tertiary education activities with the museum collections at the University of Sydney. He gained his PhD in Classical Archaeology from The University of Sydney, and has extensive fieldwork experience in Australia, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. He is director of The University of Sydney’s Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project excavating the Hellenistic-Roman theatre of the World Heritage listed site of Paphos in Cyprus. He has published and presented lectures extensively on subjects such as the Hellenistic wine trade, ancient theatre archaeology, the archaeology of Cyprus, museum education and archaeology in popular culture. He appears regularily on ABC Radio with Rhianna Patrick on the ‘Can You Dig It’ segment and has curated a number of temporary exhibitions at the Nicholson Museum.