Both events are free and open to the public. They are possible thanks to the generous financial support of the Anonymous Fund.
The Center for Visual Cultures would also like to thank the Department of Art History, The Buildings, Landscapes, Cultures Program, and The Material Culture Culture Program.
“Traveling statuettes and traveling aristocrats? Networks of acquisition in the statuary collection at the late antique villa of Séviac (France)”
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Conrad A. Elvehjem Building L140
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Old Data and New Research:
Working with Legacy Data, Archives, and Old Periodicals in Archaeology and Art History
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
12:00 – 1:00 PM
University Club Room 212
Institute for Research in the Humanities Seminar Room
*To attend the workshop, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Stirling is Professor of Classics at the University of Manitoba and held the Canada Research Chair in Roman Archaeology 2002-2012. One stream of her research investigates the role of Roman and late Roman statuary in society. She is the author of the Learned Collector: Mythological Statuettes and Classical Taste in Late Antique Gaul (Ann Arbor 2005) and has published statuary from France, Greece, and Tunisia. Another long-term interest is the archaeology of North Africa, and for many years she co-directed excavations at the Roman site of Leptiminus (Lamta, Tunisia). She is the editor (with David Stone) of Mortuary Landscapes of Tunisia (Toronto 2007).
The luxury décor of the Late Roman villa of Séviac (France) includes mosaics and statuary, including heirlooms, locally-made elements, and imported items. Though most surviving fragments of statuary are physically small, they provide evidence for up to ten marble statues and statuettes, some of which originated in the East Mediterranean. Moreover, an exceptional portrait wearing an Eastern-style toga suggests a connection to the imperial court or administration. The statuary collection at Séviac provides an opportunity to examine aristocratic networks of acquisition in Southern Gaul around A.D. 400, a period when easy connectivity within the Mediterranean world was declining. Personal travel and networks probably account for the imported items at Séviac.
Researchers in Art History and Archaeology can expect to study old objects, but they may also find that they need to handle old data: Victorian-era publications, original excavation notebooks, or other archival records. These old sources can be tantalizing or frustrating in their brevity or the different expectations of recording (such as an 18-page article in 1903 summarizing the finds from 1200 Roman tombs Sousse, Tunisia). Outmoded assumptions about gender, class, or colonialism may be jarring but provide a good reminder of the intellectual filters through which objects and knowledge pass in reaching us. At the same time, old sources enrich research because they are the eyewitness account of early discoveries and monuments that often no longer exist. Digitization projects have made much early data more accessible. The researcher must seek information, consider social context, and attempt new synthesis to enrich current research. In this workshop, I use examples from my own research projects to explore the problems and rewards of working with old data.