Alexandra Chavarría Arnau
The archaeology of early Christian churches has made important advancements in recent decades in Italy thanks to a large number of new excavations and scientific meetings, as well as the development of the project CARE (Corpus Architecturae Religiosae Europeae (IV–X saec.)), in which most Italian specialists are involved. This chapter suggests new lines of research, thus contributing to a revised historiography of the archaeology of early Christian churches in Italy between the fourth century and the end of the sixth century. It surveys some of the ecclesiastical complexes that have been reanalyzed in recent decades or recently discovered through archaeological excavations.
This chapter examines the relationship between art and society in Iron Age Europe, with a focus on Celtic art. It begins by asking what constituted ‘art’ in this context, what was its purpose, and why did Celtic craftworkers and their patrons develop a taste for entirely new ‘artistic’ expressions? The art of the Hallstatt and La Tène periods, external influences on its development across Europe, and regional expressions are then analysed. Initially decorative art was essentially confined to objects of metal and stone, and most artworks belonged to the categories of personal ornaments and weaponry, bronze vessels for the consumption of alcohol, and chariot equipment. This contrasts with the more widespread use of ‘art’ in the contemporary Mediterranean world. In the later La Tène period, the range of decorated objects grew to include painted vases and monumental wooden sculpture.
Based on recent archaeological excavations, this chapter presents an overview of the Christianization of Gaul through buildings and topography. Over the last few decades, our knowledge of the organization of episcopal complexes in cities and funerary areas has been significantly advanced despite the small number of artifacts, many of which are poorly dated. The study of Christianization in the countryside is a more recent development, even though many Roman villas reused by churches in the Early Middle Ages have been excavated. New research shows the greater complexity of the situation, including settlement forms beyond villas and a variety of churches such as episcopal relays, funerary churches, and monasteries.
The Mysteries of Eleusis in ancient Greece were the foremost sect of the mystery religions that dominated the eastern Mediterranean sphere for almost 2,000 years. The staying power of the Eleusinian rite stemmed from its convincing presentation of an otherworldly drama about the goddesses Demeter and Persephone. Initiates endured a harrowing experience in darkness that somehow evoked death, before seeing beatific visions, the climax of which was the appearance of the goddess manifest as light. How was the apparition of the goddess conjured? This study surveys extant epigraphical and archaeological information to formulate a research question: could the anaktoron have acted as a box of light, a fire illuminating figurines and projecting their images out into the darkened telesterion? A set of experiments was performed that confirmed the operational feasibility of an ‘Eleusinian Projector’. The appearance of the goddess as light can be explained physically as well as mythologically.
Andrew Meirion Jones and Marta Díaz-Guardamino
This chapter explores questions of ontology in rock art analysis. More specifically, it argues that the distinction between ‘informed’ methods and ‘formal’ methods reproduces some problematic dichotomies, such as the distinction between active subjects and inert objects, culture and nature, and a conceptualization of meaning as being external to the art itself. The chapter proposes a move away from such an ontologically hierarchical approach to rock art analysis to a relational approach in which there is no ontological priority between the different elements that make up the rock art assemblage. It emphasizes that placing formal methods at the heart of rock art studies, alongside analogy, shifts the questions we ask of rock art away from simple epistemologically derived enquiries to ontological questions. To illustrate this the chapter examines case studies of parietal art of the European Palaeolithic and Comanche rock art in North America.
David G. Griffiths
The ability to engage in nocturnal household activities influences human interactions with each other and the urban environment. The illumination of Pompeian households, through both natural and artificial means, had an impact on architectural proportions, decoration, and the organization and use of space. The Roman period witnessed dramatic increases in the scale of consumption for all types of goods and services throughout the empire. This was also the case for the consumption of artificial light, where there is abundant evidence for lighting devices, especially from Pompeian households, but also for the supply of lamp fuel through the presence of olive oil amphora at most Roman sites throughout the Mediterranean. This chapter presents the contextual analysis of the use of artificial light at ten households in Pompeii in 79 ce.
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.
Holger Wendling and Manfred K. H. Eggert
During the European Iron Age, human impact on the environment was considerable. Far from the impenetrable forests once envisaged, there had been extensive woodland clearance. A wide range of settlement types existed in intensively exploited landscapes. Sites and their hinterlands were often structured around older monuments, intentionally incorporated and integrated into local belief systems. Ancestral cemeteries, natural features, and places of resource procurement all acted as foci of collective identity, playing major roles in the mental construction of the landscape, intertwining sacred and profane. Structured settlement environs indicate an increasing importance of property rights and delimitation of social units. Social hierarchies were reproduced by architectural variability in settlements using monumental buildings as social markers, both in urban and rural contexts. The chapter also considers Iron Age exploitation of forests, which like other landscapes were heavily managed, their resources vital for constructing buildings, fortifications, and supplying the charcoal crucial for ironworking.
Alexandra Busch and Henner von Hesberg
In this chapter we give an idea of the characteristics and peculiarities of so-called ‘provincial art’ in Roman Germany. We shall focus in particular on images, but also occasionally on objects, recovered in the provinces of Germania Inferior, Germania Superior, Gallia Belgica, and Raetia. The emphasis will be less on the artistic value of the images and objects and much more on their capacity to convey information. Communication by means of images created a wide-ranging and diverse theatre of exchange; these images were often rigidly codified, or—for example when images were reproduced in series—mass-produced and hence standardized to project and propagate a specific vision. The use and attributes of the images are at the core of our considerations; we aim to provide an understanding of the language employed, of the images’ function as a medium of communication, and of the processes that underlay their production.
Children’s representations appear early in the Greek visual material culture: first they appear in the large funerary vases of the geometric period, while in the archaic period they appear in funerary reliefs and vases. To the representations in vase painting, those in terracotta statuettes can be added in the fifth century, but it is in the fourth century bc that children become a noteworthy subject of representation, appearing both in small- and large-scale objects in different media. This chapter considers the relationship between changing imagery of children in ancient Greece and social and religious developments from the geometric period, through the Hellenistic period and into the Roman period in Greece.
Olivia Rivero and Juan F. Ruiz
Upper Palaeolithic art is found across much of Europe as portable (mobiliary) art, pictographs or engravings in deep caves, or as engravings in open-air sites. European Upper Palaeolithic art was among the first prehistoric art to be discovered by researchers, and it remains among the oldest dated art in the world. Since the late 1800s, a range of theoretical approaches have been used to comprehend its meaning(s), with most effort aimed at the construction of chrono-stylistic frameworks by which to understand the art’s origins and evolution over time. More recently, new analytical techniques such as radiocarbon and uranium-series dating, digital imaging, and 3-D recording have improved our abilities to analyse the art. The Iberian Peninsula is especially rich in post-Palaeolithic assemblages of varied ages, including some that progress into the Neolithic. In this context, current discussions are focused on continuities of deeply rooted Palaeolithic traditions into the Mesolithic and on ruptures at the onset of the Neolithic.
Aiming at a better understanding of ways through which the ancient Greek religious experience was shaped, this chapter investigates the role and use of darkness in religious belief and practice. The orientation and certain architectural features of Greek temples, Dionysiac and Mystery cults, divination, rites of passage, magic, and other nocturnal rituals are examined here in an investigation of the interplay between light, darkness, and shadow and the aims fulfilled by such associations. It transpires that darkness was a decisive element in the religious experience, one that intensified the emotional condition of the participants, whilst shaping the ritual experience and memory of the event.
This chapter surveys current perspectives on children and stages of childhood within Roman households and examines how archaeological evidence for household organization can change these perspectives. It discusses what can be gleaned from analyses of archaeological evidence for household space and household activities, and notably from assessing skeletal remains, material culture, and decoration. It discusses what this evidence can tell us about potential numbers of children in households, how they might have inhabited this space and played with their pets and their toys, and how this evidence might be used to deepen understandings of children and their sociospatial practices within household organization. It uses two case studies, from urban elite households in Pompeii and from provincial non-elite households, notably military households of ordinary soldiers.