Amazing Antiquities

    See the art of the ancient world at the University's Classics Museum

    By Jennifer Kuchta, '02 BA on March 30, 2011

    A painted Greek wine bowl showing the myth of Apollo and Daphne, ca. 400 BC.

    See the art of the ancient world at the University’s Classics Museum

    Transport yourself to ancient Greece and Rome with a visit to the W.G. Hardy Collection of Ancient Near Eastern and Classical Antiquities on the second floor of the Tory Building—more commonly known as the Classics Museum. Highlights include sculpture, coins, pottery and glass artifacts that provide a glimpse of the daily life and customs of the ancient world.

    Beginning in the early 1950s, the University of Alberta started acquiring antiquities for use in teaching. By 1975, the University had amassed a large-enough collection to establish the Classics Museum, named in honour of William George Hardy, '73 LLD (Honorary), the head of the classics department from 1938 to 1964. Interestingly, Hardy is remembered not only for his love of ancient history but also for his passion for sports. He coached the Golden Bears hockey team in the 1920s, and his name is on the Hardy Cup, the trophy that Western Canadian university hockey teams have competed for since 1951.

    In its formative years, the Classics Museum was housed in the Humanities Centre, where it remained until the mid-1990s. Following the merger of the history and classics departments, the Classics Museum was relocated to its current location in the Tory Building, where it officially re-opened in 2002.

    Today, the museum exhibits approximately 200 objects, or roughly two-thirds of the objects in the permanent collection. Many of the artifacts are used in graduate and undergraduate teaching, as comparative materials for current archaeology projects undertaken by the department, and by visiting grade 6 students as part of the Muse Project run by the University of Alberta Museums.

    Among the artifacts currently on display in the museum are a rare marble bust of Antonia, the mother of the Roman Emperor Claudius, and an Athenian bell krater, a large bowl used for serving wine.


    A Roman marble bust of Antonia Minor, mother of the emperor Claudius (AD 41-54).

    A Roman marble bust of Antonia Minor, mother of the emperor Claudius (AD 41-54).


    Curator Jeremy Rossiter examines an inscribed Babylonian clay cone, ca. 2300 BC, one fo the earliest examples of writing in the museum.

    Curator Jeremy Rossiter, '77 MA, '86 PhD, examines an inscribed Babylonian clay cone, ca. 2300 BC, one of the earliest examples of writing in the museum.


    Early Near-Eastern clay objects from Iraw, 2000-4000 BC.

    Early Near Eastern clay objects from Iraq, 2000-4000 BC.


    Roman household objects from the eastern Mediterranean, ca. 2nd Century AD.

    Roman household objects from the Mediterranean, ca. 2nd Century AD.


    Egyptian faience necklace ith image of Horus, the falcon-headed god of the sky, ca. 500 BC.

    Egyptian faience necklace with image of Horus, the falcon-headed god of the sky, ca. 500 BC.