Caitlín Eilís Barrett
This review article addresses current controversies and opportunities in research on the roles, uses, and meanings of “Egypt” in ancient Roman visual and material culture. Accordingly, the article investigates problems of definition and interpretation; provides a critical review of current scholarly approaches; and analyzes the field’s intersections with current intellectual developments in the broader fields of archaeology and art history. It is argued that research on Roman Aegyptiaca can gain much from, and is poised to contribute substantially to, (1) 21st-century archaeology’s “material turn”; (2) the construction of new interpretive frameworks for cross-cultural interactions and “hybridization”; and (3) increased attention to the relationships among artifacts, contexts, and assemblages. Roman visual representations of Egypt provide a rich testing ground for research on intercultural exchange, the lived experience of empire, and the complex entanglement of people, things, and images.