Welcome Dr. Tatiana Bur to the Centre for Classical Studies

Step into the fascinating world of ancient history with Dr. Tatiana Bur, one of the latest additions to the Classics department within the College of Arts and Social Science, at the Australian National University.

As Dr. Bur makes her way to her office every day, she has the privilege of walking past a stunning display of over 600 objects that offer tantalizing glimpses into the ancient cultural practices of Greece and Rome. The Classics Museum is a treasure trove of antiquities, where each item tells a story of the people who lived thousands of years ago. For Dr. Bur, the museum is not just a source of inspiration, but also a valuable teaching tool that allows her to bring the world of antiquity to life.

"We live so far away from the lands of the Classical past that sometimes one of the easiest ways for us to access the ancient world is through our very own museum. And that's actually the idea of how the collection started" she says.

Also in the A.D. Hope Building, a new Object-based Teaching Lab is being extended, in honour of Professor Graeme Clark. It’s a hands-on collection that has been curated from archaeological excavations undertaken at the Hellenistic site of Jebel Khalid in Syria.

Dr. Bur is brimming with enthusiasm as she describes the incredible value of this new teaching tool. “It really brings things to life when you can touch and feel the weight of the bronze or the material of the clay in your hand… you can think about objects, their use, their production in completely different and new ways.”

She and her colleges are eagerly awaiting the completion of the new section, with fingers crossed it’ll be ready come end of semester. The addition will inspire students to delve deeper into the legacies of ancient civilisation, help them better understand the complex history of Western culture, and better appreciate the many ways in which the past continues to shape our world today.

Dr. Bur received her undergraduate and MPhil degrees from the University of Sydney and her PhD from Cambridge, where she also held a post-doctoral fellowship. Whilst still living abroad, and just five months knee-deep in nappies and sleep-deprivation, Dr. Bur managed to wrangle an interview with ANU. Despite the 11-hour time difference, she was up at the crack of dawn, ready to impress, and impress she did.   

After landing the position, she recalls, “When I finally got a call from ANU I was over the moon. It was a really amazing chance to come back home, and to be part of an exciting renewal period for the Centre for Classical Studies.”

As this gets underway, she is also finalising a book a book based on her PhD dissertation, entitled, Technologies of the Marvellous, which will soon be published by Cambridge University Press. The book looks at how ancient technologies were used in religious contexts to make the gods present to worshippers, and thinks through big questions about tradition and innovation in Greco-Roman culture.

Dr. Bur is passionate about the multidisciplinary approach to education that the Centre for Classical studies ANU. She says that by combining language and culture, students are able to gain a comprehensive understanding of antiquity.

"One of the really special things about the Centre for Classical Studies at the ANU is that the academic staff get the chance to teach across languages, history and culture and they all really go hand in hand,” says Dr. Bur. With this approach, students can develop a deeper appreciation for the nuances of ancient civilizations and their complex legacies.

Dr. Bur's dedication to bringing the past to life is infectious, and it's clear that the Classics department at ANU is in good hands.