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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

During late antiquity, the aristocratic house worked as an architectural social filtering system. Many structures of the private residence were used and combined to create, or to strengthen, an impression of social superiority. Ancient sources and archaeological evidence show clearly that light played a key role as an aesthetic element within this aristocratic housing scheme. The function of many key architectural and ornamental features were dependent on lighting. Hence the crucial importance of taking into consideration the ‘variable light’ in any attempt of architectural restitution of domus or villas. This chapter proposes to go deeper into the analysis, attempting to determine whether light should be regarded as a simple variable of aesthetic enhancement or whether, like any other ‘hard’ structures of the house, it should be considered as a fully structuring feature of the aristocratic residential space.

Keywords: late antiquity, Roman villa, elite, aristocracy, self-representation, filtered light, reflected light, glass, oculus, hearth

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