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The Great Fire of Rome (AD 64) from a Firefighter's Perspective

By Ray Laurence

Our undergaduates have been writing blogs for Professor Ray Laurence’s unit: The City of Rome. They can choose any topic to research and develop. Hayden Bayne had become a volunteer rural firefighter and asked Ray, if he could use his knowledge from his volunteering to develop his blog and provide a new perspective on the Great Fire of the emperor Nero’s reign. Ray was delighted that Hayden was drawing into his degree his volunteering that had become an essential part of his identity. Read the blog post on the Great Fire!

Reading the blog – we learn about how fire works and spreads and an understanding of some of the conditions that led to the destruction of two-thirds of the city of Rome in AD 64. Yet, there is more. If you read onto the end of the blog, Hayden talks about his double degree a BSc and a BA and explains how he used his knowledge of STEM in a number of his Ancient History units. This shows that students today are not content to respect the traditional boundaries of academia. Ray Laurence commented: “There is much talk and theoretical discussion of the student experience, both here in Australia and in the UK, but seldom do we find a student articulating how science and an arts subject are not separate; whilst at the same time drawing in his experiences from beyond the campus into his degree”.

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Ray Laurence

Ray Laurence is Professor of Ancient History at Macquarie University (Australia). Previous to his move to Macquarie University -- he was Professor of Roman History and Archaeology at the University of Kent (UK). He has published prize-winning books on Pompeii: Roman Pompeii: Space and Society and Pompeii: The Living City. His work based in Archaeology, History and Classics is characterised by a cross-disciplinary aspect that causes it to be accessible and of wider interest to architects, landscape historians, geographers and urbanists. Of particular interest is his work on the relationship between the physical form of the Roman city and its residents. He has also published extensively on Roman roads and communications, childhood and ageing, quantitative approaches to Latin inscriptions and approaches to cultural change in the Roman Empire. In addition, he has written scripts for cartoons that can be found on TED.Ed that have attracted more than 11 million views on YouTube.