On 19th March Dr Martijn Icks led a team of History and Archaeology postgraduates on a 3-day trip to historic Ravenna. Linking up with History postgraduates from Radboud University Nijmegen the joint group visited the great late-antique Christian churches and religious buildings of the city. The meticulously planned itinerary, superbly facilitated by Dr Alessandro Maranesi of Nijmegen, featured presentations at each of the monuments by QUB and Nijmegen students who had researched the sites before travelling. The Belfast contingent represented QUB wonderfully, providing expert analysis of the architecture, mosaics and artistic composition of some of the most famous monuments in Christian history. Highlights included Hannah Kerr on the mausoleum of Galla Placidia, as well as Orlagh Caldwell, Michael Smyth and Aisling Reid on the mosaic programme of Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo. Following a bus-ride beyond the city limits, Simon Kane and Jonathan Small brought the programme to a conclusion with a presentation standing beneath the magnificent mosaic of Ravenna’s saint Apollinaris in the apse of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe.
The party enjoyed a very friendly atmosphere, finding time to sample local cuisine, too many Italian beers and – perhaps inevitably – an international sing-song, led reportedly by Jake Morris of QUB’s Archaeology department. The Queen’s contingent acquitted themselves brilliantly and showed how field-trips can add something special to postgraduate learning. The presentations have been collected and issued as a lavishly illustrated 96-page record of a very special experience. Congratulations all round and special thanks to Martijn for seeing the original idea through to its splendid realisation.
Dr John Curran