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History & idea - International Student Conference in Antiquity and Byzantine Studies, Poznan 2009

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History & idea

The idea of Student Conferences on Antiquity first appeared as a result of scholarly activities and interests of a group of students at the University of Warsaw, who united in their passion for ancient history and civilisation. In December 2004 this team transformed itself into a formal organisation called the Student Society for Classics. Thanks to cooperation with Warsaw historians and classicists, such as Prof Włodzimierz Lengauer, Prof Ewa Wipszycka-Bravo, Prof Adam Ziółkowski and – last but not least – Robert Wiśniewski, PhD, they organised the 1st Student Conference on Antiquity, which took place in Warsaw in May 2005.
The conference subject was “Changes in Mentality within the Ancient Civilisations”. The conference lasted 3 days and attracted about 70 students of major universities in Poland; about 40 interdisciplinary speeches were delivered. The 1st Student Conference on Antiquity provided an opportunity to acquaint the participants with various facets of Antiquity, while oscillating round the leitmotif. Therefore, the speeches’ themes encompassed, among another things, a definition of mentality, methods of research into the mindset in reference to individuals and communities, as well as mental transformations, which occurred within particular ancient civilisations. It is worth mentioning that the geographical frame of the speeches stretched from the pre-Columbian America, through the Mediterranean region and the Middle East to the Central Asia, India and China, whereas the chronological one spanned the period from prehistory to late antiquity. Afterwards, a number of speeches, assessed as highly valuable by several Warsaw specialists in classics, were published in a monograph entitled “Changes in Mentality within the Ancient Civilisations”, which began a set called SCHOLE.

A doubtless success as well as the contacts with other students made during the conference contributed to the idea. In fact, the conference conceived of at first as a single initiative, turned out to be a serial event, taking place every year in May, in various academic centres in Poland. It gives the impression that the conference goes on a pilgrimage round Poland.
The 2nd Student Conference on Antiquity was held in May 2006 in Torun, one of the principal Polish academic cities, thanks to cooperation between two student associations: the Student Society for Classics from Warsaw and the Student Society for the Ancient Philosophy from Torun. The conference subject – “Forms of Social Life in the Antiquity” – inspired 39 students of diverse disciplines (e.g. classics, history, philosophy, theology, law, politics, social studies, history of art) to make a speech and take part in a discussion; it also encouraged Prof Witold Wróblewski, Prof Ewa Wipszycka-Bravo and Prof Georg Wöhrle to deliver lectures. The second SCHOLE monograph was the fruit of this conference. The 3rd Student Conference on Antiquity took place in May 2007 in Katowice, another vital academic centre in Poland. This time, the effort of as many as four student organisations from Katowice, Warsaw and Torun were united in common aim. “Religions in the Ancient World” was the leitmotif and it gathered 37 student speeches connected mainly with relations between religion and philosophy, and 2 guest lectures given by Prof Fr Wincenty Myszor and Prof Włodzimierz Lengauer. As usually, another SCHOLE monograph that grouped a number of excellent student addresses was issued afterwards.

The 4th Student Conference on Antiquity’s host was Wroclaw (Breslau), where one of the most prestigious Polish universities is located. Namely, members of Wroclaw Student Society of Classicists were responsible for organising the conference; besides, Warsaw Student Society for Classics and Poznan Student Society of Classicists were almost equally involved. The conference subject was “The Ancient Humans in their Communities”. There were 40 student addresses divided into 14 theme sessions and 2 guest lectures delivered by Prof Krzysztof Nawotka and Prof Krystyna Bartol. The next SCHOLE monograph is to be published.

However, Student Conferences on Antiquity do not include solely lectures, speeches and papers. They were conceived not only as a forum for scholarly discussion, but also as a platform for integrating young classicists from the whole country. That is why the conferences are always accompanied by diverse cultural and social events like concerts, dramas, film projections and, simply, informal meetings.