Andrew Farrington

What first sparked your passion for archaeology?

I grew up in Colchester, in north-east Essex, a town surrounded by Roman walls and dominated by a Norman castle. When I was seven, a primary school teacher had us, all gluey with papier-mache and smeared with water-colours, make a model of the Acropolis, which I suppose was the beginning. I had the astonishing good fortune to attend a school where Greek and Latin, along with French, German, Spanish and even Russian over lunchtimes, if you wanted it, were part of the accepted culture and to have an inspiring Latin teacher when I was eleven, who eased open the doors on the culture and language of the Romans for me. He was followed by an equally inspiring teacher two years later, who introduced us to the Greek language and everything that comes with it.

What does archaeology mean to you?

Archaeology is the material manifestation of what Greek and Latin texts tell us about or don't bother to tell us about and assume we know.

What is your favourite archaeological site?

There are three of them, each of which appeal to me equally. The first is Epidauros, the site of the sanctuary of Asclepius, the healing god. It is set in a gentle vale and seems to me always to radiate tranquility and well-being. The second is Delphi and its astonishing view down over the sea of olives (the largest grove in Europe, apparently) to the Crisaean Gulf, whence visitors to the oracle laboured up the slopes to the temple. The third is Termessos, on the borders of Caria and Lycia in southwest Turkey, with the equally amazing view from its theatre miles down a gully to the sea at Antalya.

Have you written any books or featured in any TV programs?

Books on the Roman baths of Lycia and on the Isthmian games. I have also appeared on Greek Radio and Television, in a programme on the life of Alcibiades aimed at getting Greek kids interested in their history.