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Historian awarded Order of Australia

Page last published: 22 Jun 2012

Alanna NobbsMacquarie University’s Professor Alanna Nobbs has been awarded a prestigious accolade for her contributions as an educator to the fields of ancient history and the classics.

Professor Nobbs will be awarded an Order of Australia - Member (AM) in the General Division at a ceremony hosted by the Governor-General at Government House in September.

The award recognizes her leadership the areas of developing ancient history coursework, syllabus frameworks and ancient languages studies and honors her work within professional groups - particularly the Society for the Society for Study of Early Christianity at Macquarie University.

“We started the Society for Study of Early Christianity to support research and to host a program of visiting fellows - and now it has over 400 members.” Professor Nobbs said.

Professor Nobbs began at Macquarie University 43 years ago as a lecturer in Roman History and Late Antiquity and says she has seen a lot of changes over the last four decades.

“There were only three buildings on the campus then, and many of the roads were dirt roads and grounds were market gardens,“ Professor Nobbs said.

Over that time the Ancient History department at Macquarie has expanded from three people to more than 30 staff members - and has grown to support the Ancient Cultures Research Centre.  Along with her colleagues, Professor Nobbs has been instrumental in leading many changes to the department, including supporting the creation of the Ancient Languages winter and summer schools.

“When the winter school first started, it only offered Greek.  Now it offers 14-15 languages,” she said.
It was language that first inspired Professor Nobbs’s own love of history, a passion that was kindled when she learnt Latin as a school girl.  These days, Professor Nobbs says she loves what history can teach us about human nature.

“People are the same right across millennia.  I mean you can you can see people’s attitudes to family relationships, to dealing with illnesses throughout history…  there’s even accounts of young men driving their chariots too fast, and teachers complaining about not being paid enough - all of these society issues can be found in the ancient world.  Why wouldn’t you love it?!” she said.

Professor Nobbs is determined to share her passion with students and educators alike and thinks the outreach work Macquarie does to engage high schools and school teachers is vital.

“People seem to love it.  I think it helps that Australia is so multicultural.  I feel it is important for the university to take Ancient History to the community and make it relevant.”

“I think it’s significant that Macquarie has taken our studies from pre-Dynastic Egypt across the silk road into Ancient China. We also have a big emphasis on the study of religions in the ancient world.”

With a new Israeli studies program in the pipeline, Professor Nobbs believes Macquarie’s ancient history offerings will only strengthen in to the future.

Professor Nobbs says her friendships with her colleagues stand out as a highlight of her years at Macquarie.
“I was really touched when I heard I’d received this award, and my thanks go to the people that nominated me,” she said.

Macquarie University congratulates Professor Nobbs on her outstanding achievement.