Ancient Studies
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Social Impact


The staff of the Department are involved in a variety of social impact projects. These include working closely with heritage institutions such as Iziko Museums of South Africa, a long-standing Bible translation project with the Bible Society of South Africa, and the presentation of public lectures to various local interest groups and communities.

The Living Antiquity Project 

The Living Antiquity project began in 2019 and offers Latin and Ancient Cultures to learners from schools in the Stellenbosch area as an extracurricular activity. The project is entirely student-run, with staff members of the department serving as advisors and facilitators. Before COVID-19 affected teaching environments, the sessions took place on Fridays and Saturdays at the Department of Ancient Studies in the Arts and Social Sciences Building. A key goal is to contribute to university readiness of learners from all backgrounds through familiarizing them with a friendly university environment and with English as a teaching language (together with Afrikaans where applicable). As well as this, the study of Latin and the ancient world in general, can help to improve language skills and academic literacy. Inter-school (and thus also inter-cultural, inter-language and inter-racial) contact is another important objective and it is hoped that this kind of environment can help to bridge some of the barriers that continue through the legacy of apartheid South Africa. 

The biggest group of participating students so far comes from Kayamandi High School with smaller numbers from Luckhoff High, Stellenbosch High, Rhenish and Paul Roos. Classes are interactive, practical and fun. Learners play interactive games to practice the principles taught; they also speak Latin if they choose to and are challenged to think critically about issues still relevant today, e.g. issues of race, slavery and colonisation. ​The department has managed, in the past, to find transport for learners who cannot get to the university on their own and it is hoped that this kind of arrangement can continue in the future and open up access to the university environment. The current Covid-19 circumstances have interfered with the on-campus project because of restrictions on gatherings, but the department is optimistic that the project will continue, even if in an adapted form.

A New Translation of the Bible in Afrikaans

Since 2005, several members of the Department have been involved in this project of the Bible Society of South Africa (see: in various capacities: As part of a team that prepared a first draft of a specific Biblical book (Johann Cook, Johan Thom and Christo van der Merwe); as part of the editorial committees of the deuterocanonical books (Cook) or Old Testament (Van der Merwe); member of the executive committee of the project (Van der Merwe). The editorial committees have met since 2011 at least four times a year in sessions of five days each. During each of these sessions stretches of translated texts ranging from 15 000 to 30 000 words are "checked".

Various research projects were launched in the Department in the duration of the larger project. The 2020-translation of the Bible in Afrikaans was launched on 30 November 2020.  For more information, here are some recent articles about the project:

Museum Outreach

Members of the department have volunteered their time documenting and looking after artefacts from antiquity in South African museum collections, especially the Iziko museums in Cape Town. This has included supporting curators and collections managers with information requests from students and the public; compiling a comprehensive database of the collections; helping to redesign public displays and galleries; and organizing workshops and visits for students to engage one-on-one with artefacts in the collection. There are several ongoing projects that connect museums and the Department of Ancient Studies.

Public Lectures

Members of the department regularly give public lectures hosted by various local societies and organizations, including the Egyptian Society of South Africa, Simon van der Stel Foundation, Stellenbosch Arts Association, Friends of the Iziko South African Museum, Stellenbosch Woordfees, Antiques and Heritage Society of South Africa, University of Cape Town Summer School,  South African Archaeological Society, Cape Town Fine and Decorative Arts Society, and the Classical Association of South Africa​.​