Decoding the “Fah Flor”: Archeological Discovery and the De-Mystification of a Lost Metaphor in Beowufl

Olivia Graves : English | Classical Civilizations

Mentor: Emily Thornbury, English

Current Bio:  After graduation, Olivia completed an MPhil in Archaeology at the University of Oxford in 2017 and she is currently finishing up a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Classics at UCLA. This fall, she will begin her PhD in Classics at Cornell University. She continues to participate in archaeological excavations in Greece and England and also maintains a great passion for history and literature from all periods.

Haas Scholars Project: The dating and provenance of the Old English epic Beowulf have been topics of wide scholarly debate for the past two hundred years. Combining literary and archaeological research techniques constitutes one way of approaching this inquiry. Based on close readings, there is some evidence to suggest that the poet refers to a tessellated (mosaic) floor left over from Roman Britain in one of the most compelling scenes. If shown to be plausible, this notion could move the dating of Beowulf back closer to the Roman era. This summer Olivia will travel to Oxford University to utilize the vast resources available in the Bodleian Library and the Ashmolean Museum. Olivia will also assist on an archaeological excavation managed by Oxford which will provide valuable insight into the complexities of British archaeology.