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They’ve put a spell on us: Ancient Studies Council hosts curse-making seminar

After braving the early autumn chill and the hike up to the Performing Arts and Humanities building, UMBC’s Ancient Studies Council hosted their very own curse-making seminar on Friday Sept. 30. With guidance from Molly Jones-Lewis, an ancient studies professor, students followed ancient Roman rituals, used aluminum (instead of traditional lead) bars and crafted their curses to get into the Halloween spirit.

The inspiration behind this event came from members’ interests in ancient magic and from Jones-Lewis’ acclaimed winter course, “Defense Against the Dark Arts: Magic and Witchcraft in the Ancient World.”

Making curses isn’t the only thing you’ll find the council doing this semester. Senior ancient studies major and council president Riley Auer gave us the low down on what to expect from the council in the future. Other seminars on the council’s Fall course list include “Scribe School 2: Secrets of Mycenae” and “Game of Romes: alia iacta est,” which roughly translates from Latin to, “the die has been cast.”

In addition to the mini-seminar series hosted by the council, they look forward to partnering with the ancient studies department to organize events for Ancient Studies Week (Oct. 10-14). The week is chock-full of guest lecturers, marathon readings of the Aeneid (an epic written by the Roman poet Virgil), play readings and “Scribe School 2.”

Many of Auer’s favorite memories stem from Ancient Studies Week. “All ancient studies classes are cancelled during the events so our students have a chance to interact with each other, the material and celebrate the best major on campus,” Auer said. “I’m also really excited about the ‘Scribe School 2′,” she continued. “Our first one was so much fun and this time, Dr. Lane will teach us about cuneiform and Linear B. The best seminars are always the ones that our professors are passionate about.”

Once an uninvolved commuter student, Auer was encouraged to participate in the Ancient Studies Council by the former president, for which she is grateful. The council, said Auer, “100 percent increased my participation in the major and has allowed me to build strong relationships with my faculty and fellow classmates.”

Auer credits her love of the major to the dedication of everyone in it, including “the engaging faculty and their dedication to the students, enthusiastic members, our fun-filled seminars and the relationships that grow from the combination of these things.”

Auer wants students to know that these Ancient Studies Council events are not solely for students pursuing an ancient studies major. “Basically,” said Auer, “We seek to show how awesome classics and archaeology are. Ancient studies courses themselves are a blast and the Ancient Studies Council really highlights that,” she said.

“If you have an interest in antiquity and having a good time, then we are the student org for you.”