Join me, The Muddy Archaeologist, and explore the reality of the Emperor Nero.
This course complements the British Museum's summer exhibition in 2021.

Prepare to see the young Nero through the reality of archaeology and ancient writers: discover how to filter myth from the man.
Explore Nero's life and the Roman world he lived in!
See him and his changing world afresh.

ON DEMAND viewing: Take this marvellous course at YOUR pace, view when YOU want.

This course is richly illustrated with evidence for the first century world of Nero.  

Whether you are a professor or a Time Team fan, a student or a complete novice, an archaeologist or studying for general interest ...

Whether you have visited the British Museum's exhibition, hope to get there or are simply curious to know more about this most infamous emperor ...

If you want to transform your view of our ancient past ...

Then this course is for YOU!

What will you learn?

-   Explore the life and times of Nero and his age.  Discover how it was a changing time, rich in tradition but also new stresses and change.

-  Discover what evidence we have for Nero's life, for the myths about the murderous and debauched young man.   What can we really trust?

-   Find out how to appreciate what survives from nero's time.  And what doesn't ... Learn how to read the ancient writers' tales of Nero's rule.  And learn how to spot their hidden agendas and read 'between the lines': what were they REALLY trying to say?  And how much of it was likely to be true?

- We take a close look at Suetonius, the biographer and gossip; see where the tales of the notorious monster came from ...

-  Enjoy a sense of place and time as we capture the essence of a young man born into a ruling family and the powerful men and women around him.

You'll be seeing Nero as never before:

Enhance your visit to the British Museum's exhibition

or simply enjoy one of the ancient world's most notorious characters in a whole new, fresh way.

Great Value!     What will you get?

-   8  richly illustrated on-demand video lectures across 5 packed sessions (plus a final summing up), taking you through the Life and Times of Nero.  

- We explore Nero's life and his rule. We consider the evidence we have for reign, enjoy a close study of Suetonius' lurid account of Nero, with his fantastic narratives, and wallow in a thoughtful final consideration of what the reality of Nero really was - and how YOU TOO can assess for yourself what might really have happened ...

It's a sumptuous package designed to enhance and enable your understanding of how ancient historians and archaeologists decipher history from myth!

-   Includes start-up session with helpful guides such as a glossary, family trees (essential for understanding Nero!) and a List of Persons (equally essential for understanding the complex relationships and connections he had). and an extra closing Further Reading guidance.

-  Downloadable maps and useful handouts

-  BONUS Best of the Rest Quick Guide to Roman Emperors in the first centuries of the Roman Imperial Age.

-  Registration to any Muddy Archaeologist course gives you ACCESS TO A LIVE Q&A online session (scheduled at varied days, one date each month) with The Muddy Archaeologist.

-  Absolutely no exams or tests except for short lightweight quizzes.  This course is for fun, discovery, learning and exploration for us to share together.

-  Choose the payment option that suits YOU: one-off payment of £95 OR 2 monthly instalments of £50.

-  Start and end at any time or date to suit you.

-  Group rates will be available.

- No quibble 30-day Money Back Guarantee

Pricing options

To help you get the most out of this course in the way that you want it, I'm offering you a choice of pricing options.
Group prices are available: Contact me for more details.

Course curriculum

Join 'The Muddy Archaeologist' on an exploration into the first century BC.
Travel back 2,000 years to the age of the Emperor Nero.

Archaeology - Ancient Writers (read what the Romans themselves thought! - Archaeological Sites - Read Suetonius' account of the monster Nero!
Discover how to decipher myth from reality.

What's included?
Video sessions - Quizzes - Reading List
Downloadable Maps, Family Trees, Glossary, List of Persons and Notes for every lecture
BONUS: Best of the Rest of the Emperors
Access to Live Monthly Q&A Sessions with The Muddy Archaeologist

NOTE: The curriculum below is an opening sample list of contents ONLY: You cannot access the course except by registration.

  • 2

    1. Nero: Life and Times

    • Lecture: Nero: Life & Times

    • Downloadable Notes: Nero, Life & Times

    • Downloadable map of major locations in Italy for Nero's Life

    • Downloadable Glossary for Nero: Who do you Think You Are?

    • Downloadable List of Persons

    • Downloadable Family Tree on mother Agrippina's side

    • Downloadable Family Tree on Nero's father's side

    • Downloadable Map of Armenia and the Parthian Empire

    • Downloadable map of Nero's visit to Greece.

    • Test and Consolidate what you've discovered in Nero, Life & Times

    • List of Illustrations : Nero, Life & Times

  • 3

    2. Nero: The Evidence - Parts I (coins), II (archaeological sites) & III (Ancient Texts)

    • Lecture: Nero - The Evidence, Part I -Coins

    • Downloadable Notes: Nero, The Evidence PART I - Coins

    • Lecture: Nero - The Evidence, Part II - Archaeological Sites

    • Downloadable Notes: Nero, The Evidence Part II - Archaeological Sites

    • Lecture: Nero - The Evidence, Part III - Ancient Texts

    • Downloadable Notes: Nero, The Evidence PART III - Ancient Texts

    • Test and Consolidate what you've discovered in Nero, The Evidence

    • List of Illustrations : Nero, The Evidence PART I - Coins

    • List of Illustrations : Nero, The Evidence PART II - Archaeological Sites

    • List of Illustrations : Nero, The Evidence PART III - Ancient Texts

  • 4

    Half Time: Photo Quiz - Family Connections

    • Half Time: Photo Quiz - Family Connections: Nero's family tree is far from simple, but here's a photo quiz to help you to get to grips with Who was Who.

    • Downloadable Handout: Family Tree Relationships Guide

    • Reminder: Nero's family tree on his mother, Agrippina's side

    • Reminder: Nero's family tree on his father's side.

    • Reminder: List of Persons

  • 5

    3. Nero: According to Suetonius, the Gossip. Parts I & II

    • Lecture: Nero: According to Suetonius Part I

    • Downloadable Notes: Nero, According to Suetonius, Part I

    • Lecture: Nero: According to Suetonius Part II

    • Downloadable Notes: Nero, According to Suetonius, Part II

    • Test and Consolidate what you've discovered in Nero, According to Suetonius

    • List of Illustrations : Nero, According to Suetonius Part I

    • List of Illustrations : Nero, According to Suetonius Part II

  • 6

    4. Nero, The Reality

    • Lecture: Nero - The Reality

    • Downloadable Notes: Nero, The Reality

    • Downloadable BONUS: BEST OF THE REST - A Quick Guide to the other Julio-Claudian Roman Emperors

    • Test and Consolidate what you've discovered in Nero, The Reality

    • List of Illustrations : Nero, The Reality

  • 7

    What's Next?

This is your chance to experience the reign of Nero is a fresh, exciting course that will change your approach to Ancient History:
be guided by an expert, an archaeologist and Classical Historian who loves
sharing the archaeology and history of the ancient world with you!

Social proof: testimonials



I enjoyed the course enormously and appreciated being able to follow it in my own time. I wanted to know more about Nero in preparation for a visit to the exhibition at the BM. It provided me with a wider perspective on his reign and a better understanding of the events on which Nero has been judged, and those which have often been overlooked. I found the format helpful and appreciated the the information sheets that I could print off. It was scholarly but within my grasp for which I was grateful.

Nero: Who do you think you Are?
Very Accurate


Masses of information. Downloading very helpful. Rated 5 out of 5

Fascinating Nero 5 stars


So enjoyed learning about the historical context and have a much better understanding of the influence of surviving source material on our modern take on Nero. Thank you!

Nero Course (Muddy Archaeologist at York University)

York Lifelong Learning student

Enjoyed everything! Excellent in all aspect, full of content, the tutor was extremely knowledgeable of her subject. The time flew by.



Excellent 5 out of 5

Good Title 5 out of 5


This was a good way on studying Nero because it not only told us about Nero and his life but also put him in context with other Emperors so that at the end we could make up our minds as to whether he was any more evil than some of his predecessors and successors

Gillian Hovell BA(Hons) 'The Muddy Archaeologist'

Hi, I'm Gillian Hovell, known professionally as 'The Muddy Archaeologist'.
Welcome to this invitation to join my thrilling Nero, Who Do You Think You Are? course.

If you're looking to find out more about the young man who became emperor and a notorious monster of a man (or was he?) then you're in the right place!
For I was the lecturer who was booked to give the British Museum's on-site talk about the exhibition (all in-person talks sadly cancelled due to covid) ... but here I am, looking forward to sharing with you online. And I can share SO MUCH MORE this way, anyhow!

I present lively, passionate and engaging ancient history and archaeology that connects with our lives today and which bring the past vividly to life.

My life is spent lecturing nationally and internationally, and on tours and cruises of ancient sites from Roman Pompeii to the diverse cultures of the Ancient Mediterranean - some of you will know me from our travels in the UK and throughout the Mediterranean. I provide talks at the British Museum and I adore bringing to life the exhibits and times past for our guests. I lead groups for the Smithsonian Journeys, Australians Studying Abroad (ASA) and many other UK and international companies.
And I love it.

My joy is to transform your experience of destinations and museum visits into ones that are not 'just a load of old stones'; I help you to connect with the civilization, discover and share our common humanity with it and enjoy and appreciate the diversity, individuality and richness of each and every culture.

For I am passionate about revealing how archaeological sites and history are full of human life and passion. I love sharing the joy of ancient history in person, in books and articles, on the media and on line. I'm a prize-winning author and one of my books, Visiting the Past: Finding and Understanding Britain's Archaeology, shares with you how to explore the archaeology of the British Isles from prehistory up to the medieval age and even beyond.

After graduating in Latin and Ancient History from Exeter University, I worked in BBC Television and went on to become an award-winning freelance writer, author.
I have led a community archaeology project in Yorkshire and I have excavated at major sites in the UK and Europe - including the Pompeian Oplontis site - the family home of Nero's wife, Poppaea Sabina.

I now lecture at York University and speak at the British Museum. I share courses around the country and lecture throughout the UK and abroad for audiences that range from local societies and luncheon clubs to Classical Associations, The Arts Society, and international groups. Every event is tailored to YOU, whoever and wherever you are.

I offer you expertise, passion and a warm welcome.
Archaeology is for everyone: let me lead you on a journey into the past with knowledge, great images, and a sense of fun and enjoyment.

Adding colour and depth to our lives today by digging deep into the past.

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