UH Moment

UH Moment: “I Witness History”

How does Ancient History come alive? Through the pen of one UH professor.  Listen to this week’s UH Moment.

UH Professor Frank Holt“Hear me out if you want to know how a scrap of everyday trash got rescued from a garbage heap to change the course of human history.”

So begins the story of the Ostracon, a broken piece of pottery used by ancient Greeks as a kind of scratch paper.  In this story, the Ostracon is the main character and story teller of UH Professor Frank Holt‘s story “Good Riddance, I Say.” It’s from his series called I Witness History.   The stories are first person accounts of historical objects or places that illustrate the importance of ancient history.  

“What we lack today is a sense of perspective, a sense of the long range of things of the origins of things,” said Holt who is a professor of ancient history.  “I like to remind students that modern history is 500 years long, which is nothing.  It’s current events.  Ancient history lasted 3,500 years.”

Holt writes the award winning series for Saudi Aramco World magazine.  He’s given life to an ancient coin, the Parthenon (who speaks in a woman’s voice), and the treasures of Troy who speak in the voices of gangsters. 

Illustration from the ParthenonRecently, the series was awarded the Magnum Opus Awards Honorable Mention for Best Series of Articles.

“When you think of all the great ideas, the great religions, the great political innovations, technological achievements, most of those originated in the ancient world—the idea of a biological system of evolution, the idea that the world is round, the first coin-operated vending machine,” he said.  “Part of it is the unique perspective. The idea that yes, the Parthenon does have a story, an interesting story and what might that story be.”

Frank Holt is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.  I’m Marisa Ramirez.

Telling the stories of the University of Houston, this UH Moment is brought to you by KUHF, listener supported radio from the University of Houston.