PBSR – Abstracts

Abstract from Papers of the BSR Vol. 80 (2012)

Continuing the debate on Rome’s earliest circuit walls

pp. 1–44          Seth G. Bernard

Rome’s pre-Imperial circuit walls pose a particular problem of reconstruction: collectively, their 11 km course represents the largest single monument of the early city, but our understanding of this structure is based on an assemblage of several dozen disparate archaeological sites. After tracing the interpretation of these fragments from antiquity to the present, this article examines the literary, topographical and archaeological evidence for the wall’s character and date. Ultimately, the non-archaeological data are inconclusive, and the material evidence seems to affirm an early phase (sixth century bc) focused on individual hilltops, rather than encompassing all hills within a full course. Following this logic, I continue to question the presence of a unified circuit wall at Rome prior to the mid-Republic (fourth century bc). A concluding section reviews the historical circumstances in support of this view.

Dynastic politics, defeat, decadence and dining: Cleopatra Selene on the so-called ‘Africa’ dish from the Villa della Pisanella at Boscoreale

pp. 45–64          Jane Draycott

This article examines the so-called ‘Africa’ dish, part of a treasure trove of silver table-ware discovered in a cistern at the Villa della Pisanella, a villa rustica destroyed in the eruption of Vesuvius in ad 79. It proposes a new interpretation of the dish’s iconography and argues that the woman in the centre of the emblema is Cleopatra Selene, while the attributes surrounding her reference her parents Cleopatra VII and Marcus Antonius, her brothers Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus, her husband Juba II of Mauretania, and their mythological ancestor the demi-god Heracles. Thus the emblema serves as a meditation on the fates of Antony and Cleopatra VII, descendants of Heracles who chose the path of vice, a choice that resulted in their defeat by Octavian at the Battle of Actium. Octavian’s virtue, victory and clemency, combined with his guardianship of their children, ensured the subsequent promotion of their daughter Cleopatra Selene as a key figure in his dynastic and political strategy, through her marriage to Juba II and the couple’s appointment as client rulers of Mauretania. Also supposedly descended from Heracles, Juba II and Cleopatra Selene chose to follow in their illustrious ancestor’s footsteps along the path of virtue. In common with other pieces from the treasure trove, the ‘Africa’ dish alludes to recent historical events and personages, utilizes death as a means of promoting the enjoyment of life, and incorporates popular elements of Greek mythology, all the while offering banqueters an erudite puzzle to solve during the course of their banquet.

Aphrodisian marble from the Göktepe quarries: the Little Barbarians, Roman copies from the Attalid Dedication in Athens

pp. 65–87          Donato Attanasio, Matthias Bruno, Walter Prochaska and Alì Bahadir Yavus

The marble of seven under-lifesize sculptures of barbarians, now in the archaeological museums of Naples, Venice and the Vatican, commonly considered to be Roman copies of the Pergamene Lesser Dedication in Athens, comes from the Göktepe marble quarries near Aphrodisias, as is shown by isotopic, electron paramagnetic resonance, trace analyses, and by petrographic data. Since this marble was used mostly by Aphrodisian artists, this finding confirms, on the basis of scientific data, previous hypotheses on the origin of the sculptors who manufactured the statues. Reliable discrimination from similar fine-grained Asiatic marbles, such as Docimium, is possible primarily on the basis of the composition of the Göktepe marbles, which have unusually low concentrations of manganese and high concentrations of strontium. Present knowledge of the history of the quarries and the distribution of their marbles seems to rule out the possibility that the sculptures date from the late Republican period and strongly support the opinion, previously proposed on stylistic grounds, that they were manufactured in Rome by Aphrodisian sculptors probably during the first half of the second century ad.

Soldiers and equestrian rank in the third century AD

pp. 89–123          Caillan Davenport

This article considers a group of inscriptions, ranging in date from the late second to late third centuries ad, which indicates that low-ranked members of the Roman army gained access to equestrian rank in this period. The inscriptions attest two interrelated phenomena: (1) the promotion of soldiers to posts in the militiae equestres, a series of officer commands usually held by men from the ordo equester; and (2) grants of equestrian status to soldiers’ sons, many of whom were only very young. These developments represent a marked departure from the circumstances that prevailed in the early Empire, when equestrian rank could be bestowed only by the emperor on men who possessed a census qualification of 400,000 sesterces. In this article, I propose that successive emperors gave soldiers greater access to the militiae equestres, and in some cases awarded equestrian rank to their sons, because they recognized the widespread desire for social mobility among the ranks of the army. The widening of access to equestrian rank within the Roman army contributed to the devaluation of this status over the course of the third century AD.

Deconstructing the symbolic city: Jerome as guide to late antique Rome

pp. 125–43          Lucy Grig

This article considers the writings of Saint Jerome as a source for writing a cultural history of the city of Rome in late antiquity. Jerome is of course, in many respects, an unreliable witness but his lively and often conflicted accounts of the city do none the less provide significant insights into the city during an age of transition. He provides a few snippets for the scholar of topography, but these do not constitute the main attraction. Jerome’s city of Rome appears above all as a textual palimpsest: variously painted in Vergilian colours as Troy and frequently compared with the biblical cities of Babylon, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. In the final analysis, it is argued, Jerome’s Rome is surprisingly unstable, indeed a ‘soft city’.

Reconstructing the later eighth-century claustrum at San Vincenzo al Volturno

pp. 145–45          Richard Hodges, Sarah Leppard and John Mitchell

This article re-examines the topography of the late eighth-century monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno following a recent far-reaching reinterpretation of the ninth-century phases of the monastery. In particular, it proposes a hypothetical location for the monks’ dormitory and a palace beside the river Volturno. As a result, it suggests the outlines of the first claustral plan for the monastery.

Thirteenth-century seigniorial institutions and officials of the Guidi counts

pp. 157–88          Tommaso Casini

This paper illustrates some aspects of rural lordship in thirteenth-century north and central Italy, namely the territorial framework for the exercise of seigniorial powers and the seigniorial officials who administered the lords’ dominions. How were seigniorial territories organized from an institutional point of view? How did the lords manage the adjustments and changes occurring in their lordships due to inheritance, purchases and sales of seigniorial rights? How was that framework connected to the institutional organization of rural communities? Who were the men who administered those lordships and how long did the connection between the families of those officials and the lords last? These are the questions I have tried to answer through the study of deeds (recorded in charters and notarial registers) regarding the Guidi counts, a family belonging to the upper aristocracy of north-central Italy. This study focuses on institutional matters, but in the section devoted to the relations between lords and seigniorial officials a prosopographical approach is adopted. The dynamics investigated in this study were fundamental in the historical evolution of the north-central Italian countryside, and their analysis provides useful material for further comparison with analogous phenomena in other parts of Europe.

Paintings for Dominican nuns: a new look at the images of saints, scenes from the New Testament and Apocrypha, and episodes from the life of Saint Catherine of Siena in the medieval apse of San Sisto Vecchio in Rome

pp. 189–232          Joan Barclay Lloyd

Fragments of frescoes were found in the late nineteenth century on the medieval apse wall, hidden behind the fifteenth-century chancel, of the Dominican nunnery church of San Sisto Vecchio, Rome. They were painted in two phases, one in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century, the other approximately a century later. When they were restored in 1990–2, two new scenes came to light. This paper reconsiders the murals of both phases, including the images uncovered during the restoration campaigns. Historical evidence shines new light on the medieval patrons of the nunnery, who were relatives of individual nuns, and reveals the social context in which buildings and paintings were provided for the convent. It is argued that the frescoes were designed for the Dominican nuns, whose religious ideals are reflected in their iconography. Up until now studies of these murals have not paid much attention to their socio-historical importance, nor the Dominican significance of the images, even in two scenes from the life of Saint Catherine of Siena. Accordingly, this study contributes to the discussion of the frescoes by placing them in a ‘Dominican’ framework, attempting to show what they may have meant to the medieval nuns in the convent.

Panvinio and descriptio: renditions of history and antiquity in the late Renaissance

pp. 233–56          William Stenhouse

This article argues that Onofrio Panvinio’s 1571 study of the Roman triumph embodies a central innovation of sixteenth-century classical scholarship, the use of visual reconstructions alongside textual accounts to communicate the details of ancient ceremonies. Panvinio built on the work of predecessors, most notably Pirro Ligorio, to produce a densely-detailed image of the triumphal procession in the style of Roman bas-reliefs, using the evidence of coins, friezes and texts. This illustration can be seen as an alternative historical rendition, rather than as an accompaniment to a textual description of the triumph. More generally, it reveals the creativity of Renaissance antiquarianism, a movement usually seen as devoted to the dry accumulation of evidence about antiquity, not its imaginative interpretation.

Opening the frontier: the Gubbio–Perugia frontier in the course of history

pp. 257–94             Simon Stoddart, Pier Matteo Barone, Jeremy Bennett, Letizia Ceccarelli, Gabriele Cifani, James Clackson, Irma della Giovampaola, Carlotta Ferrara, Francesca Fulminante, Tom Licence, Caroline Malone, Laura Matacchioni, Alex Mullen, Federico Nomi, Elena Pettinelli, David Redhouse and Nicholas Whitehead

The frontier between Gubbio (ancient Umbria) and Perugia (ancient Etruria), in the northeast part of the modern region of Umbria, was founded in the late sixth century bc. The frontier endured in different forms, most notably in the late antique and medieval periods, as well as fleetingly in 1944, and is fossilized today in the local government boundaries. Archaeological, documentary and philological evidence are brought together to investigate different scales of time that vary from millennia to single days in the representation of a frontier that captured a watershed of geological origins. The foundation of the frontier appears to have been a product of the active agency of the Etruscans, who projected new settlements across the Tiber in the course of the sixth century bc, protected at the outer limit of their territory by the naturally defended farmstead of Col di Marzo. The immediate environs of the ancient abbey of Montelabate have been studied intensively by targeted, systematic and geophysical survey in conjunction with excavation, work that is still in progress. An overview of the development of the frontier is presented here, employing the data currently available.

A hundred years of Roman history: historiography and intellectual culture

pp. 295–323          Christopher J. Smith

In 2010, the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies achieved its centenary.  In 2012, the British School at Rome, which was closely linked to the origins of the Roman Society, celebrates the centenary of its Royal Charter. This marked the formal establishment of the distinctively broad and interdisciplinary remit of the BSR by the inclusion of humanities, art and architecture in a single institution.  The combination of these two anniversaries has given rise to this attempt to think through some of the paths that Roman studies have taken, and to understand them within the context of broader developments in particularly British and Italian historiography.  The Roman Society and the British School at Rome have many points of connection, both in terms of individuals and in terms of research interest.  Recent work on the development of a British historical tradition has shown that it remains important to ground the reading of historical scholarship within the intellectual trajectory of its practitioners.  This is, therefore, an argument about how the research represented in the Journal of Roman Studies, and conducted at the British School at Rome, and ultimately more widely, should be seen in a historiographical context.

Notes from Rome 2011–12

pp. 325–34             Robert Coates-Stephens

This gazette presents to the reader outside Rome news of recent archaeological activity (primarily in 2011, but also in the first part of 2012), gleaned from public lectures, conferences, exhibitions and newspaper reports.


Abstracts from Papers of the BSR Vol. 79 (2011)

Obesity, corpulence and emaciation in Roman art

pp. 1–41          Mark Bradley

This article explores the significance of sculptural and painted representations of ‘overweight’ and ‘underweight’ body types in the visual culture of Roman Italy from the fourth century bc through to the late Empire, and considers the relationship of this imagery to Greek and Hellenistic precedents. In spite of the topical character of fat in 21st-century sociology, anthropology and medical science, obesity and emaciation in the ancient world remain almost completely unexplored. This article sets out to examine the relationship of fat and thin bodies to power, wealth, character and behaviour, and seeks to identify patterns and continuities in the iconography of fleshiness and slenderness across a stretch of several hundred years. Such bodies could be evaluated in a number of different ways, and this article exposes the diverse — and sometimes contradictory — responses to body fat in the art and culture of the Roman world. It first examines the significance of obesity and emaciation in language, literature and medicine, and then discusses visual representations under three headings: ‘Fertility’; ‘The marginal and the ridiculous’, examining the relationship between body fat, humour and figures at the edge of civilized society; and ‘Portraits’, exploring fat and thin in the portraiture of real-life individuals in the realms of philosophy, Hellenistic rulership, Etruscan funerary art and Roman public sculpture.

Roman topography and Latin diction

pp. 43–69          S.J. Heyworth

This article contains five notes on Roman topography. The first three briefly argue (1) that the uia Tecta supposedly to be placed in the Campus Martius has perhaps arisen from corruption of uia Recta; (2) that the temple of Juturna, placed by Ovid near the arches of the Aqua Virgo, could not have stood where the Largo Argentina now is, but further north, perhaps in the grounds of Santa Maria in Via; and (3) that the rites of Anna Perenna described by Ovid in Fasti 3 took place near the Mausoleum of Augustus, and not at the recently discovered spring near Piazza Euclide. Note (4) exhibits the evidence for regarding the twin summits of the Capitol and the Arx as the duo luci between which the Asylum was set up, and goes on to suggest that Vergil and Ovid may have used the name Ianiculum to refer to the Arx; (5) demonstrates that in with the name of a hill can refer to any site from the foot up, and builds on this in arguing that the phrase Concordia in Arce refers to a temple constructed where the slope rises from the Forum.

Men without hope

pp. 71–94          Ulrike Roth

The article argues that the passages typically employed to document the Romans’ exploitation of chained slaves in the Italian countryside from the mid-Republic into the Principate actually have a quite different meaning. The servus vinctus mentioned by Columella, Pliny and others is a label that became attached to slaves who were subjected (at least once) to punishment through chaining. The punishment reduced the value of the slave and, hence, it was a requirement upon sale to indicate whether a slave had been subjected to such chaining, that is whether they were servi vincti or servi soluti. What the passages in question do not show is how the Romans worked these or other slaves. Whatever their working conditions, the fate of servi vincti became worse in the Empire as a result of the lex Aelia Sentia that decreed that servi vincti could not receive Roman citizenship upon manumission: they had thus become men without hope.

Excavating the Roman peasant I: excavations at Pievina (GR)

pp. 95–145          Mariaelena Ghisleni, Emanuele Vaccaro and Kim Bowes, with contributions by Antonia Arnoldus, Michael MacKinnon and Flavia Marani

Begun in 2009, the Roman Peasant Project was designed to excavate the smallest sites found in field survey and to analyze the diet, economies, land use and landscapes of the Roman peasant. The Project’s excavations at the site of Pievina are presented here, and suggest a more complex image of Roman peasant life in the late Republic and late antiquity than current assumptions would anticipate, including surplus production, a high degree of monetization and ties to urban markets.

The Roman ceramic material from field walking in the environs of Nepi

pp. 147–240      Philip Mills and Ulla Rajala

This paper explores the ceramic assemblage of the Nepi Survey Project from the third century bc to the seventh century ad. The surface collection allows the detailed characterization of chronology, ware, fabric supply and functional characteristics. The assemblage shows a settlement explosion in the early second century bc, with another major rise from the Augustan period. The sharp decline in the late second to early third centuries ad is visible here, as it is throughout the region. The later peaks of the late fourth to mid-fifth and the mid-sixth centuries ad conform to the late Roman sequence from Mola di Monte Gelato. The dominant pottery class is the oxidized coarse-wares, at 73%. The distribution of the different fabrics, including some of regional supply, suggests a number of different marketing mechanisms. Fine-wares and terra sigillata combined at 3% is what would be expected in the fringes of the Empire. The amphora class makes up over 5% of the assemblage, with the most variety exhibited at large villas and suburban halos. The most important supply originated from North Africa, with fish sauce as the main import. The functional analysis allows the definition of a ritual structure in the proximity of the cemeteries of the Massa area with highly varied types related to eating and drinking. The ceramic building material shows the importance of Campanian contacts although the lack of imbrices suggests that many tile scatters derive from reused material.

The public image of the Severan women

pp. 241–73          Clare Rowan

Coinage remains one of the best resources from which to gain an insight into the public image of empresses in the Roman Empire. This article employs a quantitative approach to the coinage of the Severan women, utilizing coin hoards to gain an idea of the frequency of particular coin types. The result offers a nuanced and contextual assessment of the differing public images of the Severan empresses and their role within wider Severan ideology. Evidence is presented to suggest that in this period there was one workshop at the mint dedicated to striking coins for the empresses. The Severan women played a key connective role in the dynasty, a position communicated publicly through their respective numismatic images. By examining the dynasty as a whole, subtle changes in image from empress to empress and from reign to reign can be identified. During the reign of Elagabalus, the divergence in imagery between Julia Soaemias and Julia Maesa is so great that we can perhaps see the influence of these women on their own numismatic image.

Ante oculus ponere: vision and imagination in Flavio Biondo’s Roma Triumphans

pp. 275–98          Frances Muecke

This article examines two ekphrastic digressions from book 2 of Flavio Biondo’s Roma Triumphans (1459), both occurring in the section on the festivals of ancient Rome. The first is an eye-witness account of a celebration mounted in Piazza Navona in Rome to mark the defeat of the Turks at Belgrade in 1456; the second is an imaginative recreation of the horse race at the Equirria, as Biondo envisions it taking place in the streetscape of ancient Rome. Both digressions serve one of Biondo’s most important purposes, the linking of ancient and modern Rome. The aim of the discussion is to demonstrate the importance of visualization in Biondo’s framing of Roma Triumphans as a whole. In this aspect too he was a powerful model for later antiquarian writing.

The ‘Minerva Medica’ and the Schola Medicorum: Pirro Ligorio and Roman toponymy

pp. 275–328      Ian Campbell

The article explores  how, when and why Pirro Ligorio (c. 1513–83) chose to link a sanctuary dedicated to Minerva Medica, listed in the fourth-century ad Regionary Catalogues of the monuments of Rome as being on the Esquiline,  with the late antique decagonal pavilion, near Termini, which had the second largest dome in Rome after the Pantheon. It establishes that the catalyst was the unearthing of a several statues, including one of Minerva,  in 1552. The fate of these finds is examined, as well as Ligorio’s attempt to locate the mysterious Schola Medicorum on the same site.

Nomos, identity and otherness: Ciro Poggiali’s Diario AOI 1936–1937 and the representation of the Italian colonial world

pp. 329–49          Charles Burdett

The article begins by looking at the body of written and visual material that was produced on the colonial world in the interwar years. It considers various reading strategies that can be applied to this body of work and how it can be addressed through post-colonial criticism. The article argues that the work of the sociologist Peter Berger offers a series of insights into the way in which this material represents the social world, and the notions of collective identity and alterity that are central to that world. In the light of Berger’s thinking on the socially constructed nomos, the essay examines some of the definitions of the relation between metropolitan and subject communities that recur in writings on the reality of colonialism. The essay explores the relationship of an individual author to the nomos of his or her time by looking in detail at one text: the journalist Ciro Poggiali’s diary of the time he spent in Ethiopia in the immediate aftermath of the Italian conquest of the country. It examines how Poggiali’s diary can be interpreted as a complex account of how the coerciveness of the social world is experienced by individual consciousness and how its definitions of racial and cultural belonging can be appropriated or challenged. The essay concludes by arguing that the analysis of strategies for defining identity and otherness within the Italian colonial context can be taken further by working within a comparative framework.

Notes from Rome 2010–11

pp. 351–9            Robert Coates-Stephens

This gazette presents to the reader outside Rome news of recent archaeological activity (primarily in 2010, but also in the first part of 2011), gleaned from public lectures, conferences, exhibitions and newspaper reports.

from Papers of the BSR Vol. 78 (2010)

Falerii Novi: further survey of the northern extramural area

pp. 1–38          Sophie Hay, Paul Johnson, Simon Keay and Martin Millett

This paper presents the results of further geophysical survey in the area immediately to the north of the walled city of Falerii Novi. The results, integrated with recently published aerial photographic evidence, further elucidate the sequence of development of the city from its foundation in 241 bc into the Imperial period. They reveal new details of the cemeteries and amphitheatre, as well as raising important issues about land allotment in the vicinity of the city.

Contemporary perspectives on luxury building in second-century BC Rome

pp. 39–61          Marden Nichols

This literary study contributes to an under-researched aspect of Roman cultural history by compiling the contemporary textual evidence for attitudes towards expenditure on private architecture in the second century bc. Little archaeological material survives to document the houses of this period, but close attention to the extant texts reveals a high level of sophistication in the moral values ascribed to domestic construction and decoration. My analysis begins with a survey of relevant fragments from the speeches of Cato the Elder and subsequently focuses almost exclusively on Plautus’s Mostellaria. Passages from these works contradict the image later Roman authors provide of middle Republican Romans as uninterested in costly or elaborate houses and uncorrupted by a desire for luxury. Early in the second century bc, architectural extravagance had entered the canon of vices already. What is more, Plautus’s Mostellaria provides insight into the perceived differences between other indulgences deemed more likely to depreciate in value or be consumed, and the vice of building, which could be considered an investment.

Exploring the sanctuary of Venus and its sacred grove: politics, cult and identity in Roman Pompeii

pp. 63–106, 347–51          Maureen Carroll

Archaeological investigations conducted at the temple of Venus in Pompeii have demonstrated that the sanctuary was laid out as a porticus triplex and that trees were arranged in the courtyard around three sides of the temple.  This landscaping is contemporaneous with the construction of the Roman temple in the middle of the first century bc, and it is one of the earliest sacred groves in the Roman world for which there is archaeological evidence. The results of archaeological fieldwork shed light not only on the landscaping of the site, but also on various important aspects related to the early development of the precinct and land use in colonial Pompeii. A consideration of the archaeological and historical evidence as well as the social circumstances of the city in the first century bc suggests that the temple and sacred grove of the city’s tutelary goddess symbolized both the political identity and the divine sanction of Roman Pompeii.

Substructio et tabularium

pp. 107–32          Filippo Coarelli

The building on the Capitolium known today as the Tabularium is one of the very few surviving monuments of Republican Rome that it is still well preserved and has been studied relatively well. Nevertheless, its function is still not clear. The very name ‘Tabularium’ has been questioned on a number of occasions, and almost certainly is wrong. The recent studies of Nicholas Purcell, Henner von Hesberg and Pier Luigi Tucci are assessed. Having examined in detail the archaeological and historical evidence, the author proposes that this Capitoline complex is the base (substructio) of a triple temple, dedicated to Venus Victrix (the most important, situated at the centre), the Genius publicus populi Romani and Fausta Felicitas. Support for this interpretation is to be found in the fasti fratrum Arvalium for 9 October. It represents clear testimony of power and Sullan ideology, dominating the spaces of traditional politics with immense force.

The vernae Caprenses: traces of Capri’s Imperial history after Tiberius

pp. 133–43          Dirk Booms

Although Tiberius’s visits to Capri have been documented extensively by ancient authors, and many Roman sites still can be visited on the island, its imperial history after Tiberius remains largely unknown. Much attention has been given to the twelve villas that the emperor supposedly built, of which only a handful have been identified securely, but no major building phases have been attributed to a period later than the traditional Augustan-Tiberian phase. Equally, no visits by other emperors were recorded in the literary sources, although the banishment of Commodus’s wife and sister by the emperor himself at least indicates that the island remained in imperial possession. Furthermore, it continued to be exclusively associated with Tiberius by ancient scholars until as late as the fifth century. To make sense of the fragmentary data pertaining to Capri’s fate after the death of Tiberius, this paper considers the epigraphic sources regarding imperial activity on the island. The existence of unique information on a group of imperial slaves that once served there gives insight into an exceptional event in the organization of imperial households, probably to be dated in the first part of Claudius’s reign, which influenced the further imperial history of the island.

Cooking pots and cooking practice: an African bain-marie?

pp. 145–50          Elizabeth Fentress

This article considers three particular cooking-ware forms, Hayes 23B, 196 and 197. Manufactured in northern Tunisia from as early as the Flavian period, they are by far the most common forms amongst the African finds on western mediterranean sites. However, there are problems in interpreting the ways in which they were used. Here I suggest that the set represents a bain-marie (with a lower vessel that would be half-filled with water; an upper one into which the food would be placed; and a lid). The origins of such vessels are discussed, as well as their role in cooking.

Rome and the transformation of the imperial office in the late fourth–mid-fifth centuries AD

pp. 151–92          Meaghan McEvoy

This paper identifies a hitherto unrecognized reason for the increased imperial presence at Rome from the accession of Honorius in 395 down to the assassination of Valentinian III in 455, in the form of the transformation of the imperial office itself, which was taking place across this period, as a result of the repeated accessions of child-emperors in the late Roman west. These prolonged minority governments, occurring at a point in late Roman history when increased ceremonialization and, of course, Christianization were very much a part of the emperor’s role, also brought with them a greater need for the city of Rome to act as a key political stage for imperial ceremonial display, particularly as the support of the wealthy senatorial aristocracy based at Rome became ever more crucial as sources of imperial revenue were lost to the western empire through barbarian invasions. In addition, the foundation of the mausoleum of Honorius, adjacent to Saint Peter’s basilica, and the extensive church building and decoration efforts of the imperial family during the reign of Valentinian III, highlighted the Christian credentials of the western emperor, and challenge the long-held view that bishops of Rome had already taken over the role of ‘emperor’ within the city by the fifth century.

The role of late antique art in early Christian worship: a reconsideration of the iconography of the ‘starry sky’ in the ‘Mausoleum’ of Galla Placidia

pp. 193–217, 352–4          Ellen Swift and Anne Alwis

Drawing upon Elsner’s notion of ‘mystic viewing’ and contextual written sources that describe the decoration of church interiors and the symbolic importance of light and the stars in early Christian exegesis, this paper re-examines vault mosaics of the starry sky, chiefly those within the so-called ‘Mausoleum’ of Galla Placidia in Ravenna. It emphasizes the active role of the decorative scheme in late antiquity; and the role of the art­work as not just exemplifying, but mediating, early Christian worship. The suggestion is made that the visual effects exhibited by the mosaic are instrumental in creating a particular relationship with the viewer in antiquity, in which the stars may have been viewed not only as a representation of the sky, but as a concrete manifestation of the radiant power of the saints in their intercessory role between earth and heaven.

Warmundus of Ivrea and episcopal attitudes to death, martyrdom and the millennium

pp. 219–63          Gillian Mackie

Warmundus, bishop of Ivrea in the latter half of the tenth century, is known for his wide-reaching achievements as a patron of both architecture and the illustrated book. He was also a poet. This paper focuses on the period late in Warmundus’s life when he provided new liturgical books for his cathedral. The illustrations he chose for his Sacramentary reveal that in his old age his focus was on death, whether of the ordinary Christian, or of the martyrs of the faith. Two series of miniatures from the Sacramentary are without parallel among the surviving manuscripts of his day. One set of ten illustrates, in sequence, the liturgical prayers for use in sickness and death, while a unique series of three full-page miniatures accompanies the text for All Saints’ Day and depicts the suffering of the martyrs in graphic detail. I examine the possible sources for these images in manuscript and monumental art, as well as in literature, notably the Peristephanon Liber of Prudentius. Possible influences on Warmundus’s choice of imagery include his advanced age, the unsettled and dangerous political climate of his day, and the approach of the first millennium, with its associated fears that the end of the world was at hand. All of these factors are examined in the context of the illustrations he chose for his manuscripts. His interests, as demonstrated in these illustrations, may well have been shared with other less well-documented bishops of his era, whose works have not survived.

Pirro Ligorio and two columna caelata drawings at Windsor Castle

pp. 265–87          Ian Campbell and Robert W. Gaston

The paper gathers together graphic and textual evidence by Pirro Ligorio and others on an extraordinary example of a Roman columna caelata. It establishes beyond doubt that the column existed and that it was excavated from the seabed offshore from Misenum by Ludovico Montalto in the 1520s. The column was brought to Naples but languished on the shore or quayside at the Castello dell’Ovo probably until the mid-sixteenth century, by which time it was severely weathered, after which nothing is heard of it. The authors discuss the possibilities that the column may have been part of a triumphal arch or a free-standing votive or honorific column of the type seen on the famous harbour landscape excavated at Stabiae, which probably represents Misenum.


Notes from Rome 2009–10

pp. 289–95          Robert Coates-Stephens

This gazette presents to the reader outside Rome news of recent archaeological activity (primarily in 2009, but also in the first part of 2010), gleaned from public lectures, conferences, exhibitions and newspaper reports.

Abstracts from Papers of the BSR Vol. 77 (2009)

Integrating lidar and geophysical surveys at Falerii Novi and Falerii Veteres (Viterbo)

pp. 1–27 and 335–43 Rachel Opitz

The Roman town of Falerii Novi and the pre-Roman Falerii Veteres are revisited through a combination of lidar (airborne laser scanning) and geophysical survey data in this paper. The lidar survey provides detailed information on the topographically complex edges of these sites for the first time, and a number of new features are identified. Viewing these features in the context of both the topographic and geophysical data, these peripheral urban areas are explored, both as zones for movement and as façades. Through these examples, the potential contributions made by lidar to our overall understanding of pre-Roman and Roman urbanism are considered.

Lixus (Morocco): from a Mauretanian sanctuary to an Augustan palace

pp. 29–64 Carmen Aranegui and Ricardo Mar

This article reassesses the work of M. Ponsich, published in 1981, on the monumental centre of Lixus (Morocco). He interpreted the structures found in the excavations begun by Tarradell in 1948 as a set of linked sanctuaries, principally of the Roman period. This new examination of the preserved remains, together with more recent excavations, allows us to reassess this area of the site. It is possible to identify the remains of a large sanctuary of the Mauretanian period (fourth–first centuries bce), which includes temples, gardens and storehouses. In the period of Juba II (30–10 bce) a palace was constructed over the gardens, adjacent to the earlier temples. This residential complex had a Corinthian atrium and two peristyles. It has been possible to identify also the oecus triclinaris, cryptoporticus, exedrae and halls. We propose that this palace is one of the residences of Juba II.

Revisiting the pediment of the Palatine metroön: a Vergilian interpretation

pp. 65–99 Roslynne Bell

In this article the pediment of the Magna Mater’s Augustan temple on the Palatine is re-examined. Arguments in favour of reference to the sellisternium, and traditional identifications of the composition’s main figures as either Attis or galli, are considered. An alternative reading of the pediment is proposed. Using the pine branch as a key, Vergil’s Aeneid is put forward as an iconographic ‘blueprint’ for a scene in which the Magna Mater is celebrated as both a national goddess of Rome and the tutelary deity of Augustus and the Julio-Claudii. The figures in question are re-identified as personifications of the Trojan Mount Ida and the Palatine Hill — important loci of worship in the east and the west, and symbols of the dual heritage shared by the Magna Mater, Rome and the princeps himself.

A baker’s funerary relief from Rome

pp. 101–23 Andrew Wilson and Katia Schörle

This article presents a previously unpublished Roman travertine relief showing scenes of breadmaking, currently in the restaurant Romolo in Trastevere in Rome. It presumably came originally from a tomb monument, possibly in the vicinity, and might be dated on grounds of material and style anywhere between the very late Republic and the Flavian period. From left to right it shows two men delivering sacks of grain, a man loading grain into an animal-driven mill, three men kneading dough by hand, three more shaping loaves, and one putting loaves into the oven. The article discusses parallels in other reliefs of bakery scenes, and highlights the importance of this one for the evidence that it provides for the extent of the division of labour in a fairly large-scale bakery, in which the breadmaking process is divided into stages, each carried out by different groups of people.

Trajanic building projects on base-metal denominations and audience targeting

pp. 125–58 Annalisa Marzano

Imperial coinage is generally recognized as one of the media used by the central administration to spread specific ideological messages, even though the extent to which specific messages could be understood across the wide spectrum of Roman society remains open to debate. Even more problematic is the question of whether specific coin types were chosen according to the different denominations (precious versus base metal), thus taking into account the social and geographical background of the potential coin-users. This study investigates the possibility of audience targeting in Trajanic coins with architectural types of the mint of Rome and then compares these issues with similar coins minted under the Flavians and Hadrian. The analysis highlights how building projects that had primary relevance for Rome’s populace, such as the restoration of the Circus Maximus, were commemorated on base metal alone, whereas projects that had a wider resonance across the empire, as in the case of the Forum of Trajan, were depicted on precious and base metal, thus showing that in specific cases a clear pattern of audience targeting can be detected.

Excavations at Le Mura di Santo Stefano, Anguillara Sabazia

pp. 159–223 Robert Van de Noort and David Whitehouse

This report presents the results of excavations undertaken between 1977 and 1981 at the remarkable ruins known as Le Mura di Santo Stefano, situated near Anguillara Sabazia, just under 3 km south of Lake Bracciano. The earliest phase of occupation concerned a first-century ad farm. Around ad 200 a range of buildings was constructed, including a three-storey rectangular building lavishly decorated with nineteen types of marble, suggesting that the complex was a luxury retreat, possibly part of a latifundium. There is evidence for further activity in the third or early fourth century. In the ninth century, after a period of abandonment, part of the complex was converted into the church of Santo Stefano. The rectangular building was reoccupied and the remaining ruins used as a cemetery. It is argued that the site may have functioned as the centre of a medieval estate, part of a papal domusculta, or alternatively as a fundus of a monastic establishment. In the eleventh century the site was deserted after the skeletal remains of a least 90 individuals, along with the bones of three dogs, were interred in a pit and capped with several pieces of Roman marble sculpture.

Medieval wall painting in the church of Santa Maria in Pallara, Rome: the use of objective dating criteria

pp. 225–55 and 344 Laura Marchiori

The medieval wall paintings in Santa Maria in Pallara have received little scholarly attention, perhaps on account of uncertainty about their dating; there is no independent textual documentation for their production. Traditionally dated to the tenth century, the paintings exhibit an iconography more common to twelfth- and thirteenth-century contexts, a representation of the Apostles seated on the shoulders of Prophets, which no doubt contributes to their neglect, since the later monuments are so well documented. However, the iconography derives from Roman traditions of church decoration, traditions that may be utilized in an analysis of the paintings in order to arrive at an independent dating based on their form and content alone. Following a methodology developed by John Osborne for dating undocumented medieval wall paintings in Rome, this article analyzes the objective dating criteria of the Santa Maria in Pallara paintings; namely, these criteria are physical setting, function, subject matter, inscriptions and pictorial technique. Such analyses suggest that a tenth-century date is suitable for the paintings, which are well categorized in the history of Roman pictorial technique between securely dated ninth-century monuments and those dated to the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Governor and government in sixteenth-century Rome

pp. 257–72 Miles Pattenden

The quantity of government in Rome and the role of the pope and his officials in it increased rapidly during the sixteenth century. This article takes the figure of the city’s Governor as a case study and, using legislative, archival and financial records, asks how we can measure that process and what it reveals about the aspirations of Romans for government. It concludes that this expansion was not the result of deliberate centralization or rationalization by sixteenth-century popes, but that different groups within Roman society exploited the idea of papal authority to advance their own interests and encourage political stability. Finally, it considers the consequences this had for the development of Rome as a polity and argues that in the centuries before the French revolution, far from being a cause of stagnation and decline, papal government continued to evolve to meet the expectations made of it by the ancien régime society.

The Villa Pigneto Sacchetti excavation: a new interpretation

pp. 273–90 Phil Perkins and Sally Schafer

The remains of the seventeenth-century Villa Pigneto Sacchetti lie in Rome to the northwest of the Vatican City, on a steep slope in the Valle dell’Inferno in the regional park of Monte Mario. Designed for the Sacchetti family by Pietro da Cortona, it was one of a limited number of his architectural projects to be built. In 1990 the villa was believed lost, and so a project was devised to locate and explore the material remains; and in 1992 we partially excavated the villa and subsequently published an excavation report (published in Papers of the British School at Rome 68 (2000)). In 2008, Jörg Martin Merz’s much-awaited monograph, Pietro da Cortona and Roman Baroque Architecture, was published. Without any doubt, this book makes a major contribution to the architectural literature of the Roman Baroque. It includes a chapter on the Villa Pigneto Sacchetti, which takes issue with some of our findings. This article addresses several points raised about our work, and offers a reinterpretation of the building history of the villa that aims to reconcile the divergent opinions and incorporate advances in scholarship since 2000.

Notes from Rome

pp. 291–7 Robert Coates-Stephens

This gazette aims to present to a readership outside Rome a newsletter of recent archaeological activity (chiefly for 2008, although also early 2009) gleaned from public lectures, conferences, exhibitions and newspaper reports.

Latest edition

Monday 7 October 2013

The Papers – Vol 81 (2013)


The Papers – Vol 81 (2013)

x, 414 pages, including 140 illustrations

Helen L. Patterson.  David B. Whitehouse (1941–2013)

Ulla Rajala.  The concentration and centralization of late prehistoric settlement in central Italy: the evidence from the Nepi Survey

Gretchen E. Meyers.  Approaching monumental architecture: mechanics and movement in Archaic Etruscan palaces

Carsten Hjort Lange.  Triumph and civil war in the late Republic

P.L. Tucci.  The marble plan of the Via Anicia and the Temple of Castor and Pollux in Circo Flaminio: the state of the question

Emanuele Vaccaro, Mariaelena Ghisleni, Antonia Arnoldus-Huyzendveld, Cam Grey and Kim Bowes. Excavating the Roman peasant II: excavations at Case Nuove, Cinigiano (GR)

J.C. Fant, B. Russell and S.J. Barker.  Marble use and reuse at Pompeii and Herculaneum: the evidence from the bars

Clare Rowan.  Imaging the Golden Age: the coinage of Antoninus Pius

Douglas Boin.  A late antique statuary collection at Ostia’s sanctuary of Magna Mater: a case-study in late Roman religion and tradition

Gregor Kalas.  Architecture and élite identity in late antique Rome: appropriating the past at Sant’Andrea Catabarbara

Domenico Camardo.  Herculaneum from the AD 79 eruption to the medieval period: analysis of the documentary, iconographic and archaeological sources, with new data on the beginning of exploration at the ancient town

Robert Coates-Stephens. Notes from Rome 2012–13

Archaeological Fieldwork Reports

Introduction.  Christopher J. Smith

Geophysics projects. Sophie Hay and Alice James

The Herculaneum Conservation Project: activities in 2012–13. Sarah Court, Jane Thompson and Andrew Wallace-Hadrill

Interamna Lirenas. Giovanni R. Bellini, Sophie Hay, Alessandro Launaro, Ninetta Leone and Martin Millett

The Lateran Project: interim report on the July 2012 and January 2013 seasons. Ian Haynes, Paolo Liverani, Salvatore Piro and Giandomenico Spinola

Lavinium.  Claudia Moser and Sophie Hay

The Roman Ports Project. Simon Keay

San Felice and the Basentello Valley Archaeological Research Project, July–August 2012. Myles McCallum and Hans vanderLeest

The Sangro Valley Project. Susan Kane and Robert Witcher

The Segni Project.  Francesco Maria Cifarelli, Federica Colaiacomo, Stephen Kay and Christopher J. Smith

Exploring the vicus at the Roman imperial estate at Vagnari.  Maureen Carroll

Vagnari cemetery.  Tracy Prowse

Research Reports

Balsdon Fellowship (Claudia Baldoli)

Hugh Last Fellowships (Barbara E. Borg, Susan Walker)

Paul Mellon Centre Rome Fellowships (Luciana Gallo, Nicholas Temple, Jonathan Yarker)

British School at Rome/Society for Libyan Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship (Mattia Toaldo)

Rome Fellowship (Michael Carr)

Rome Scholarships (Rebecca Gill, Richard Teverson)

Macquarie University Gale Scholarship (Kavita Ayer)

Rome Awards (Jaspreet Singh Boparai, Stephen Cummins, Allison Goudie, Oren Margolis)

Giles Worsley Travel Fellowship (Thomas Brigden)




The Papers of the British School at Rome

Monday 7 October 2013

The Papers – Vol 81 (2013)

Monday 19 November 2012

The Papers – Vol 80 (2012)

Monday 19 November 2012

The Papers – Vol 79 (2011)

Thursday 1 September 2011

The Papers – Vol 78 (2010)

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The Papers – Vol 77 (2009)

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The Papers – Vol 76 (2008)

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The Papers – Vol 75 (2007)

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The Papers – Vol 74 (2006)

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The Papers – Vol 73 (2005)

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The Papers – Vol 72 (2004)

Monday 24 February 2003

The Papers – Vol 71 (2003)

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The Papers – Vol 70 (2002)

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The Papers – Vol 69 (2001)

Thursday 24 February 2000

The Papers – Vol 68 (2000)

Wednesday 24 February 1999

The Papers – Vol 67 (1999)

Tuesday 24 February 1998

The Papers – Vol 66 (1998)