Rachel’s research explores multilingualism and interactions between Greeks and other cultures in the Hellenistic world, particularly Egypt and Central Asia. Her work involves looking at archaeological and written evidence from the ancient world.
Her work feeds into her teaching of the ‘Cleopatras’ module which explores the life of Cleopatra VII of Egypt, the last Queen of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.
Students look at ancient sources which were written by her Roman enemies and explore their criticism of her, much of which is based on her gender and ethnicity.
The course also puts an emphasis on recent receptions of Cleopatra. Students read some modern biographies of Cleopatra and on the basis of their reading and knowledge of ancient sources, are asked to pitch a new biography of Cleopatra. The idea is to make them think about modern biographies of ancient figures not just as academic works, but as commercial projects which are pitched to publishers.
Rachel’s work also influences her teaching on the ‘Pioneers of Classical Archaeology’ module. This module explores the methods and accomplishments of 19th–early 20th c. archaeologists in the ancient world. Although, most of those who became famous were European or American, many local excavators and dealers played a part in the archaeological discoveries of the period, and this module reveals their stories. Interestingly, many artefacts in the Department’s Ure Museum were acquired by archaeologists who are discussed in the module.
Rachel also teaches ancient languages. She emphasises that the ancient world was multilingual and spoke languages that are related to modern languages of the Middle East, like Arabic and Aramaic. We are one of the few Classics departments in the UK to offer an optional module in the ancient Egyptian language.
"I try and use my teaching as a way of getting students to think about race and ethnicity in the ancient and modern worlds."