Two Thousand Years in a Day

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.” John Adams

On Tuesday, our Year 12 Modern and Ancient History students had the privilege of visiting the Australian National War Memorial and National Museum in Canberra. They ventured out into the unknown twilight hours of the morning, gripped the edge of their seats on Macquarie Pass and prayed that their breakfasts would stay down just long enough to reach the loving embrace of a McDonalds coffee at Goulburn. After a quick showdown between Mr Ramm and the Big Marino, our convoy continued on to Canberra for an exploration of the birth of modern civilisation in the Rome: City and Empire exhibition and the World War 1 galleries at the War Memorial.

Under the expert guidance of Mrs Taylor, the students took a tour through the thousands of World War 1 artefacts on display. Of particular interest was a landing boat from Gallipoli, the ingenious makeshift gadgets the soldiers used to fire their weapons in the trenches, and personal items like a mini-chess set and letters home.

At their age, students were quite subdued by the impact of the items that were all used in battle. They also had an opportunity to walk through the other areas of the museum. Mariam Fofana and Isabella Mitriski were speechless at the display of an original Concentration Camp uniform from a prisoner in Poland, and Eleanor Chinn was proud to show the group her grandfather’s backpack that is on display in the Vietnam War gallery. (See photo) It was a very moving time and one in which students were able to deepen their knowledge of the experiences of Australian soldiers in modern wars.

Mr Ramm was delighted to show the students through some incredible artefacts from the Roman exhibition which had never been displayed to the public before. On loan from the British Museum’s extensive collection, the Roman exhibit displayed grand statues of some of the emperors of Rome, gold coins of the Caesars, jewellery, and even a theatre ticket from ancient Rome – complete with an engraved seat number. Students were blown away by the intricate detail in the mosaics and the frescoes as well as the intriguing nature of their design. “We stepped back into another world. It is incredible that two thousand years ago, ancient artists could produce such intricate work,” said Mr Ramm. “The exhibition really brings to life the daily artefacts that we study in our compulsorily module next year. It should really give the students an enlivened version of what they will cover in textbooks and film.”

Students were inspired by many of the things they saw and not a few of them have begun planning future trips to walk in the footsteps of the people that have gone before them in history.