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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Romans routinely reused sculpture, and nowhere is this entrenched cultural practice more evident than in Roman marble portraits. In the imperial period, countless surviving Roman likenesses in marble reveal rich histories of multiple identities. In all cases, the original iterations of the portraits are disclosed through legible technical traces of recutting. The reconfiguration of a portrait results in a hybrid combination. Altered portraits exhibit anomalies of forms, proportions, and carving techniques. Point and claw chisels, flat chisels, drills, and rasps were all used in the recarving process. The recutting of portraits posed enormous technical challenges because of the limited sculptural volumes with which to work. The technical transformation of these images through recarving and reuse, as well as mutilation, was not merely an opportunistic strategy for repurposing, but rather held important aesthetic and ideological implications for ancient audiences.

Keywords: recarving, recutting, reuse, reconfiguration, mutilation, marble, portraits, aesthetics, ideology

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