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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful
Volcanic UNESCO World Heritage Sites

4-Session Evening Series

Thursday, September 23, 30 and October 7, 14, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Quick Tix Code: 1J0113
$80 Package Member
$90 Package Non-Member
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There are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage sites throughout the world. Each of them offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of complex civilizations, empires, and religions. Join Justin M. Jacobs, associate professor of history at American University, for in-depth looks at four UNESCO World Heritage sites that have been profoundly affected by nearby volcanoes, from Pompeii to Virunga National Park. Each lavishly illustrated program goes far beyond the typical tourist experience, incorporating insights drawn from current scholarship and research.  

Jacobs is the author of several books, including The Compensations of Plunder: How China Lost Its Treasures. He is currently producing a 24-episode series on UNESCO World Heritage Sites for The Great Courses.

Please Note: Individual sessions are available for individual purchase.

SEPT 23 Herculaneum and Pompeii

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year 79 A.D., it inadvertently preserved the most extensive and intact ruins anywhere in the ancient world. Drawing on the material remains of Herculaneum and Pompeii, Jacobs paints a lively portrait of daily urban life in the ancient Roman world. He explores the fascinating history of the earliest digs at these sites during the 18th century, when they were regarded as a private quarry of Roman antiquities for a Bourbon king. 

SEPT 30 Thingvellir

Spread out over a scenic rift valley riddled with unique geologic features, Thingvellir National Park marks the site of the first open-air parliament in Iceland and serves as the historical backdrop for the transformation of seafaring Vikings into some of the most isolated and hardy farmers in the world. The session explores the Viking migrations, their strategies for survival on an impoverished and volatile island, and the innovative political institutions they developed to prevent large-scale violence on Iceland.

OCT 7 Mount Fuji

The picture-perfect snowcapped cone of Mount Fuji has attracted Japanese artists and pilgrims for more than a thousand years. Examine the history of human influences on this dormant volcano and its dynamic—and symbolic—role in Japanese history, including the elaborate network of Shinto and Buddhism shrines that that have inspired the long-distance travel of countless pilgrims.

OCT 14 Virunga National Park

The mist-enshrouded peaks of the Virunga Mountains are part of one of Africa’s earliest protected natural areas. Known for a chain of eight volcanoes — two active, six dormant, along the border of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo—Virunga is home to the endangered mountain gorilla and more than 300 other unique plant and animal species. Together with the adjacent lands of Volcanoes National Park, made famous by the fieldwork of zoologist Dian Fossey, Virunga provides a tense yet majestic backdrop for the competing demands of economic development and ecological preservation.

4 sessions

Photo caption (upper right): Clockwise: Pompeii, Mount Fuji, Mount Nyiragongo, Virunga National Park, Thingvellir National Park


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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.