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Archaic Wooden Sculpture in Augustan Temples: Greek and Etruscan cult images in new and refurbished architectural settings: 33-20 BC

Lecture by UrbNet Visiting Professor Christopher Hallett (University of California, Berkeley). Lecture 5/6 in the lecture series "New research on the materials of ancient sculpture".

2021.01.28 | Lasse Rievers Olesen

Date Tue 18 May
Time 13:00 14:00
Location Virtual + Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), Aarhus University, Moesgård Allé 20, 8270 Højbjerg, Denmark (Building 4230-232).

Abstract

The re-founding of Rome by the first emperor Augustus, begun in the late 30s BC, is usually presented as the gradual transformation of the imperial capital from a city of mudbrick and tufa into one of gleaming marble.  Ancient writers inform us that in this period a whole series of Roman temples were rebuilt at great expense, using the very finest materials; and as a result we tend to imagine these newly refurbished temples populated with images of the gods fashioned in gold and ivory, in bronze, or in precious imported marbles.

It turns out, however, that some of the most famous Roman shrines—specifically a number of those that were refurbished in the 20s BC, in the first phase of the Augustan building program—were built to house venerable old cult images made of wood.  And some of these antique statues were not, strictly speaking, Roman at all.  Some had been brought from nearby Etruria and Umbria, some came from the Greek East.  This paper explores what we know about these Archaic wooden statues of Augustan Rome, and the elaborate new settings that were specially created for them.

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History and archaeology, Lecture/talk