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Volunteer Voices – From Ecuador to Trimontium

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Volunteer Voices – From Ecuador to Trimontium
Oct 23rd 2023 | Thania M Flores

I’m Rafael Casares, a historian from Quito, Ecuador, with a deep interest in Ancient History, especially concerning Rome, Greece, Persia and the Near East. My research focuses on two aspects: the internal development of these civilisations and their international diplomacy and relationships, specifically between each other. Although the Ancient World spans a very long history, my chosen periodical frames are the Classical Age and Late Antiquity.

I’ve participated in Ancient History congresses and in 2015 I created a social media page called Roma Invicta.  In July 2023, I had the honour of winning a historical essay competition, organized by Desperta Ferro Ediciones (Spanish editorial). More recently I’ve won a competition for writing a book about Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity, which will be published by the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (The Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador).  I have done historical reenactment and, currently, I’m a remote/digital volunteer with the Trimontium Museum.     

Becoming a Trimontium Volunteer

Young man dressed as a Roman legionary

Unfortunately, Ecuador does not have a particular affinity for Ancient History. Thus, since childhood I have been learning about Antiquity by myself. During this era of globalization and growing networks, access to different platforms, digital books, encyclopedias, blogs, pages, and social media has been very useful. These different types of resources have contributed to my formation and inspiration for research. Since I frequently explore social media focused on Ancient History, I found the Trimontium Trust on Instagram; and when the museum called for volunteers, I didn’t hesitate to join.

Why did I decide to be a Trimontium volunteer? Firstly, because archaeology is an important science in the study of History and the Ancient World. Material culture and artefacts offer a complementary and essential perspective in the knowledge of ancient societies. Archaeology offers the opportunity to solve the lack of documentary sources. In addition to being attracted to the Trimontium Museum’s archaeological research, the opportunity was intriguing due to its location: the Roman northernmost frontier, the ancient Trimontium. I remember being fascinated with Roman warfare during my first approaches to Ancient History. And incidentally, Trimontium came to the forefront as the finding place of  the lorica segmentata Newstead type.

Volunteering in the Digital World

In our day and age digital resources are useful in disseminating, sharing and spreading knowledge in a myriad of disciplines. Trimontium has endeavoured in this through different platforms, a clearly laudable work due to the public interest in Roman heritage and history. Social media was one of the options for volunteering at Trimontium, a great opportunity for sharing a wide variety of historical posts with people around the world who want to learn about Rome in a concise but rigorous way, not strictly technical or academic, but approachable and interesting. Technology is a great tool to engage people of different countries, languages and cultures, to know more about human history.. In fact, Trimontium’s awareness about the importance of technology to create connections and to share knowledge is one of the reasons that allowed me to join as a volunteer.

My Volunteering Experience

As I live in Ecuador, my experience with Trimontium is from afar. Communication has been fundamental to become more familiar with the museum’s goals and projects. I’ve a great time joining virtual meetings focused on training in different platforms for cataloguing and for generating content for social media. These meetings allow us to plan the posts on all kinds of Roman topics every month. I’m still very surprised regarding Trimontium’s planning and systematization not only in social media content, but in the development of other activities, like cataloguing, excavations, festivals, inter alia. This work is a testimony to the staff’s great management in the sharing of knowledge, as well as in academic and social projects, all relevant for the benefit of society and the development of science.

I’ve discovered new digital platforms due to Trimontium’s professionalism, and these have contributed to sophisticate my work in my own social media spaces. Furthermore, as I continually research and post for my own channel, Roma Invicta, on Facebook and Instagram, my volunteering at Trimontium is an excellent opportunity to discover more about archaeology and the Roman presence in Britain. Elements that give an additional and necessary perspective for my posts.

 

The social media work of the Trimontium Museum doesn’t focus only on one topic, it encompasses a variety of multifaceted elements such as culture, numismatics, customs, art, society, warfare, anniversaries, etc. In order to attain a rigorous knowledge of a science and civilization, variety and perspectives are fundamental because they allow us to contrast and compare different kinds of information and data to obtain better conclusions and ideas (and to avoid unilaterality). 

Another gratifying fact of being a volunteer from afar is related to language. I’m a Spanish native speaker, so every time I research to write for Trimontium, it is enjoyable and beneficial in improving my English level, one of the most important, globalised, and academic languages of our time. Ancient Rome fascinates people across the world; being able to share and write about it in different languages is satisfying due to the multiple possibilities of engagement. Moreover, I consider that some of the best posts I have created for Roma Invicta could be of interest for Trimontium’s audience. Thus, I’ve translated and adapted several of these posts and they have had great reach and engagement in Trimontium’s social media. 

Posting frequently for the Trimontium Museum or every day in Roma Invicta demands continuous reading and writing, so sharing brief articles is a great opportunity to keep learning more about history, artifacts, artwork, etc. This experience in social media has been an excellent complement for my historical and research goals. I’ve learned about the relevance of material culture in the Ancient World, a topic that I plan to use even more for writing my book about the mentalities of Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity. Being immersed in continuous research in different topics has led me to appreciate the importance of similarities and differences between these two great civilizations -Rome and Persia- (and others), concerning the concept of civilization and what meant to be a civilized society in Antiquity in the Mediterranean and in the Near East.

I’ve been a Trimontium volunteer since March 2023 and hopefully I can continue this endeavor. It’s a pleasant experience to learn from professionals and share history. Being a volunteer has taught me about the ancient history of Scotland, an awesome country with impressive landscapes, so I also hope to visit Melrose, Trimontium and Scotland one day.

LINKS

Roma Invicta (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/RomaInvicta753/

Roma Invicta (Instagram): https://www.instagram.com/roma.invicta.est/?next=%2F

Winning article and others for Desperta Ferro Magazine: https://www.despertaferro-ediciones.com/autor_blog/rafael-casares/

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