Public monuments in Roman Greece

Database and Website

 Public Monuments in Roman Greece (c. 200 BC - 200 AD)

Under the Roman Empire the marketplaces, streets, gymnasia and theatres of the cities of Greece were full of monuments such as tombs, inscribed stelai and - most numerous of all - statues. There were statues of bronze and of marble, portraying gods, heroes, emperors, kings and local dignitaries. Some of these monuments had already stood for centuries; others were fairly recent. Arguably no urban culture in history, with the possible exception of Rome itself, has set up such vast numbers of monuments in its public spaces. The nearest modern analogy for the amount of cultural material on display in the Roman period polis would be the museum. Yet the analogy falls short – the settings where these monuments stood were not places designed primarily for the passive viewing of works of art, they were vibrant public spaces, alive with the tumult and commotion of the city. If we are to understand the society and culture of these cities it is vital that we understand the impact of public monuments on the people who moved about them in their daily lives.

The aim of the project “Monuments of Roman Greece”, funded by a Marie Curie Fellowship from the European Commission is to explore the various ways in which the setting of public monuments contributed to giving them meaning, for instance, by looking at how certain types of monuments were positioned in relation to spaces used for certain activities in order to target particular audiences and at how monuments were positioned in relation to each other to create meaningful connections. This investigation will cast new light on questions such as the nature of power within the polis community and how local identity was defined in the face of imperial rule. The results will be published in a series of articles. At the heart of the project is a database of monuments known from archaeological, epigraphic and literary evidence to have stood in the cities of Greece in Roman times. The database is a work in progress and is still being expanded but has been made available online here as a tool for other researchers. The project is being carried out by Dr. C. P. Dickenson at the Faculty of Classics of the University of Oxford. The project’s scientific adviser is Prof. R.R.R. Smith.

Feedback on the database or on any aspect of the project would be most welcome.

Publications, results, news

20/11/2015 – The first article to emerge from the project, “Contested Bones the politics of public burial in Roman Greece (c.200 BC – 200 AD)”, has been accepted for publication in the journal Ancient Society.

The Blog

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