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New lecture series in honor of Sienkewicz to begin Nov. 2

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Recently retired professor Tom Sienkewicz was a tireless champion for classics during his three decades of service to Monmouth College.

This year, an anonymous donor stepped forward to champion Sienkewicz, creating the Thomas J. and Anne W. Sienkewicz Lecture on Roman Archaeology.

The inaugural Sienkewicz Lecture will be presented at Nov. 2 by Víctor Martínez, a lecturer in the department of art and design at Arkansas State University. It will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the College’s Dahl Chapel and Auditorium.

Sienkewicz was Monmouth’s Minnie Billings Capron Chair of Classics at Monmouth College from 1985 until 2017. During his career he taught a wide range of classics courses, many with strong archaeological features, including classical mythology, “The Ancient Family” and “Africa in the Ancient World.”

During his first year at Monmouth in 1984, Sienkewicz founded the Western Illinois Society of the Archaeological Institute of America which, since its inception, has hosted hundreds of archaeological lectures at Monmouth. From 2012-17, Sienkewicz served the Classical Association of the Middle West and South as secretary-treasurer – its chief executive and financial officer. CAMWS spans 31 states and three Canadian provinces.

His wife, Anne, has been a loyal supporter of archaeology and over the years has hosted countless speakers.

Titled “The Decline and Falls of the Roman Material Economy or How to Trash Talk Rome,” Martínez’s lecture is free and open to the public. It is presented by Monmouth’s department of classics and the Western Illinois Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.

“Whether Rome declined, fell, or just stumbled into the Middle Ages, it did so neither on an empty stomach nor without wine to ease the transition,” said Martínez. “Much has been written about the political, cultural and social reasons for Rome’s collapse. Less scholarly attention has been focused on the daily lives of people during Rome’s twilight.”

In his lecture, Martínez will draw upon his work on the Palatine East Excavations, directed by Eric Hostetter of the University of Illinois.

“This was the first systematic excavation on the eastern slope of Rome’s storied hill, where much of the pottery comes from large and closely-datable deposits with minimal chronological breaks,” he said.

Martínez received his undergraduate degree in classics at the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in classical art and archaeology from the University of Missouri. He also studied etruscology and Roman archaeology at the University of Rome. His Ph.D. in art history was earned at the University of Illinois under Hostetter.