From Museums to Computers: Ancient Material Culture and Digital Epigraphy

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This course is no longer being offered.

Course Description

This course is designed specifically for English Language Learners interested in further developing their English skills in a challenging college-level academic setting.

Ancient objects that come from archaeological excavations, private and public collections are commonly referred to as material culture. They are often beautiful, sometimes enigmatic, and at times funny, but they all have a plethora of different stories to tell. Have you ever wondered what an old object can tell us about its past owner’s private life, religious beliefs, or dietary preferences? This course has been designed for students who want to learn how to interpret ancient objects, and how to transmit their remote message to a modern audience through traditional and new media such as epigraphic drawing, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

In this course, we will examine objects that were used by ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman people in their everyday lives, as well as in death. We will discuss the concept of art, along with its chronological developments as well as its geographical variation. For this purpose, we will look at many images, watch historical movies and documentaries, and visit the RISD Museum in Providence. The frequent debates and in-class exercises will train the students to quickly recognize objects and assign geographical provenance and chronology at first sight. We will not only analyze the pieces under an artistic point of view, but we will discover their meaning, symbolism, purpose, and the role that they played in ancient people’s lives.

The second half of the course will consist of more practical sessions. The students will need to choose an object from the Egyptian, Greek and Roman collections of the RISD Museum and draw it! Once the epigraphic drawing is complete, we will learn how to digitally process it for publication using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Between classroom activities, drawing in museums, and vectorizing with your laptop, this course will provide a full immersion into the world of ancient objects and professional archaeological work, while at the same time it will represent a unique way of experiencing museums and art.

Knowledge of material culture, drawing and digital skills are valuable abilities for anyone who wishes to pursue a degree within the fields of the study of the ancient world, art, museums or Humanities in general. Moreover, experience with design and vectorization softwares such as Photoshop and Illustrator, can be projected into many other areas of work including graphic design, computer sciences or engineering. This course is an excellent opportunity to attain useful skills which are otherwise rarely taught at college level, but with which ambitious students are expected to be familiarized.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course, but students should bring their own laptops and have Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator already installed in it.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEHA0920
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

Summer@Brown for English Language Learners

A select group of non-credit courses in the liberal arts and sciences supplemented with English language learning, two weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For University-bound English language learners completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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