Inspired by the enduring appeal of machines and robots, the current exhibition at the RD Milns Antiquities Museum, Wondrous Machines, explores Hero of Alexandria’s automaton, a self-animated and self-propelling ancient Dionysiac shrine created in the first century CE.
It also introduces UQ’s Tiny Giant Robot (TGR), whose technology owes its origins to the research and experimentation of ancient Greco-Roman mechanists and engineers such as Hero.
Join Dr Janette McWilliam, Convenor of Classics and Ancient History, for a presentation about the exhibition and the genre of ancient theatrical automata, self-animated ancient machines designed to create an atmosphere of awe and inspire wonder.
The talk will be followed by a guided tour of the exhibition and afternoon tea.
Wondrous Machines Exhibition:
The exhibition ‘Wondrous machines’ was funded by a major grant from the QUEX institute (UQ and the University of Exeter) with the support of the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The broader project explores the theme of Digital Worlds and Disruptive Technologies and is the result of a multi-disciplinary collaboration with colleagues from the Centre for Ancient Knowledge in Antiquity and Beyond (University of Exeter), Archaeology, Classics and Ancient History, ITEE, Robotics, and Philosophy (UQ), Classics and Ancient History (The University of Glasgow), and Philosophy (UCLA).
Meet the presenter:
Dr Janette McWilliam is a Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History (UQ) and HEA Senior Fellow. She is currently Classics and Ancient History Discipline Convenor and previously the Director and Senior Curator of the R.D. Milns Antiquities Museum, a position she held for 12 years.
As the current exhibition, ‘Wondrous Machines’, demonstrates, Dr McWilliam has been able to share the Museum’s collection of Ancient Greco-Roman and Mediterranean artefacts through engaging museum exhibitions, which bring many different aspects of the ancient world alive.
Dr McWilliam’s other research interests lie broadly in the areas of Greco-Roman social, political and cultural history, particularly Roman children and childhood, gender, Latin epigraphy, ancient material culture and pedagogical approaches to the teaching of Latin and Greek.

About Alumni events

UQ alumni and community events take place in-person and online, across the globe, throughout the year. UQ alumni are invited to join the UQ ChangeMakers platform to access early event registrations, benefits and discounts.

Join UQ ChangeMakers