by Jamie Calvert, Staff Writer

Students at the University of West Florida brought Ancient Rome to life on campus Wednesday and Thursday after presenting a number of visual and hands-on demonstrations that focused on the historical time period.

“Daily Life in Ancient Rome” is a student-produced, two-day event from several STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) disciplines: marine biology, art, mechanical engineering, history, digital art, and bioarcheology.

The multi-day event featured things like art exhibits, live-action demonstrations and re-enactments, research displays and presentations.

A gladiatorial re-enactment by the UWF Fencing Club left many students in awe, as the students clad in full gladiator gear showed off their skills in the Great Hall. UWF Commons building manager Hunter McCabe found all of the events entertaining and educational.

“As an employee at the Commons, I get to see a lot of interesting events,” McCabe said. “But the Ancient Rome exhibit put on by the history department is second to none. From insightful guest speakers to intricate replicas of items from the time period, it was a great event to attend.”

One event in particular featured a presentation of a fresco piece by students in an interdisciplinary honors seminar, as well as a demonstration. Markus Madden, who became known as the seminar’s “resident history major,” thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“I feel that the project as a whole was a huge learning experience for everyone involved in it,” Madden said. “It was eye-opening to see how inventive people were in ancient Roman times, and it was really cool being able to study something so hands-on.”

Marzia Ransom led the class through the seminar, offered only to Kugelman Honors College students. The course focused on the research, design and construction of a Roman fresco. As a team, they primarily investigated the history behind the Roman frescoes and its later Renaissance development, right into contemporary times.

The fresco has been deemed one of the most difficult forms of painting to master, and it is one of the most admired forms of art. Many ancient frescoes are still standing in situ, giving art historians and the general public the opportunity to observe both the design and development of different technical applications.

“You can only learn so much from studying something in detail,” Madden said. “Being able to actually build a wall and create a fresco on each side was an experience that taught me more about the process of making frescoes than I could have ever hoped for.”

During the fresco presentation, attendees learned that there were students from several colleges and studied many different majors enrolled in the course.

While Madden studies history, another studies political science, three were STEM students, and a handful pursue graphic design. This didn’t stop the group from bonding and learning from each other, given that they all have different perspectives and a wealth of knowledge to apply to the seminar.

“I think that everyone in the class found a way to relate the project to their degrees,” Madden said. “There’s so many different facets of making a fresco that it’s hard not to, honestly. There are scientific aspects, historical, mathematical, artistic, and probably more that I haven’t even considered. It was also amazing just seeing what talents everyone in the class had that related to their major, and also the talents that didn’t relate at all. Everyone in the class brought something new to the table and I really loved being able to observe it.”

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