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This study explores social and gendered aspects of female fertility in popular religious practices in Italy in the last four centuries BC, and it investigates the role of supplication and votive dedications in promoting maternal health and family continuity. It tackles modern assumptions which have strongly aligned the religious activities of women in Republican Italy with their generative interests and specific ‘fertility cults’ or ‘women's goddesses’. Divinities associated with fertility are explored here, with particular emphasis on Mater Matuta who is often defined in modern research as a ‘mother goddess’. The study shows that cults purely concerned with fertility are unlikely to have existed. Fertility was only one of several fundamental personal concerns brought by women and men to the generalist and polyvalent deities of Republican Italy. Items associated with fertility, such as terracotta wombs, male and female genitals, and swaddled infants, always occur together with other anatomical ex-votos across a wide range of sites and were dedicated to many deities. Considering the archaeological and textual evidence, Mater Matuta can be shown to have occupied a more flexible and encompassing space in the pantheon, and her involvement in marriage, motherhood and childbearing was part of a wider repertoire of responsibilities. The study also focuses attention on a distinctive, but largely overlooked, votive assemblage from Capua which includes numerous tufa statues of women and babies. The paper proposes that they should be understood as votive objects offered to an unknown deity by Capuan women as thanks for support in the generative enterprise, personally and more broadly in the context of the city's religious and civic identity.
Trajan's Column stands in the centre of Rome as a proud monument to Trajan's triumph over Dacia in the early second century. On its 29 m tall shaft, a helical frieze depicts the events of the two wars which won the province for the Roman Empire. There are 224 trees to be found throughout this relief, 222 of which are native to Dacia. These trees have traditionally been treated as scene dividers and background material to the column's action. This article, which begins by exploring the identification of the trees in previous scholarship, argues that they are in fact crucial to the column's narrative of industry and conquest. The discussion of identification is followed by an examination of the numerous tree-felling scenes on the column as a metaphor for conquest. The article closes with a detailed analysis of contrasting representations of the two leaders on the column, Trajan and Decebalus, one an urban emperor, the other a forest king. By directing attention towards the arboreal population of the column, this article argues that trees cannot be dismissed as mere background detail, but play an active and significant role in the communication of ideas about triumph, imperialism and the conquest of nature.
This article investigates an aristocratic domus located on the Arx, overlooking the better-known insula of the Aracoeli from the northern summit of the Capitoline hill. This domus was buried during the construction of the basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in the thirteenth century and remained sealed until the 1980s. I have reconstructed its layout — at least three levels survive — relying on my architectural survey and on the Vittoriano archives. The original phase dates from the first century BC, but substantial restorations were made during the Flavian age, when the domus lost its fauces–atrium–tablinum pattern, and in the early third century AD, when it was expanded vertically by a deep cut into the tuff bank, received a new facade and was redecorated with frescoes. The domus of the Aracoeli must have been a residence of high status, and in the Severan age it was supplied by lead pipes bearing imperial stamps. Although the Capitoline was mostly occupied by public buildings, the Arx was a prestigious neighbourhood and not a sort of monumental acropolis. I discuss the development and the architectural design of the domus of the Aracoeli, including its underground residential spaces as well as its sculptural and painted decoration; finally, I examine the remodellings of the original atrium house from a socio-cultural point of view.
The number of Roman sarcophagi without explicit Christian iconography conventionally dated to the fourth century is not commensurate with any reasonable estimate of the number of well-to-do pagans. This article explores several possible explanations for the anomaly. One approach would be to attempt to correct the archaeological record by finding errors in the religious classification of monuments that exaggerate the Christian corpus, adding non-Christian sarcophagi that have escaped published inventories, or establishing a systematic misdating of pagan sarcophagi. Alternatively, the preserved monuments could be taken as an accurate reflection of original production, the shortfall implying some change in commemorative habits specific to non-Christians. The author concludes that neither of these theories is likely to reduce the pagan sarcophagus deficit substantially. Instead, the shortfall is ascribed mainly to differential rates of preservation. This hypothesis is consistent with certain medieval practices of reuse that suggest a higher probability of survival for antique sarcophagi bearing Christian imagery.
Well into the seventh century, masons in Rome built bonded-masonry walls using materials and techniques directly descended from antiquity. But walls erected starting in the eighth century are very different and distinctively ‘medieval’. The late seventh / early eighth century therefore represents a moment of rapid transition or even rupture in the Roman building industry, when older ways of doing things ceased forever. Drawing on recently excavated structures on the Palatine and at San Paolo fuori le Mura that offer new insights into this crucial transitional period, I suggest that the break with centuries-old building traditions reflects a fundamental shift in mechanisms of patronage, and of control over the city's built environment. After a hiatus in the second half of the seventh century, when the Roman construction industry languished between a Byzantine administration in decline and a Church bureaucracy not yet empowered to supplant it, early eighth-century popes faced the challenge of creating anew the means and methods to build on a substantial scale. The newly excavated structures of the early eighth century offer an unexpected perspective on the growth of, and the growing pains experienced by, Rome's nascent papal government.
Il saggio analizza in dettaglio, con immagini inedite e di alta qualità (frutto di apposita campagna fotografica), le trecentesche Storie della Passione di Cristo della cappella «degli Illustrissimi», posta all'estremità del braccio settentrionale del transetto del duomo di Napoli. L'opera, realizzata a monocromo, si compone di quattro scene maggiori, leggibili da sinistra a destra, Cristo schernito e spogliato delle vesti, Flagellazione, Andata al Calvario e Deposizione, e di una scena minore, un'Annunciazione con probabile offerente. A dispetto dell'alta qualità esecutiva e del raffinato livello d'invenzione, l'opera è scarsamente conosciuta, e spesso ignorata, da parte della critica moderna. Scopo del contributo è di presentare in dettaglio le Storie della Passione per fornire una corretta e approfondita lettura iconografica dei singoli episodi e per individuare le fonti visive alla base della rappresentazione.
Violence and peace-making in medieval Italy have often been analysed in urban environments. But what happened if two powerful baronial families clashed in the countryside? This paper, by looking at the feud between the Farnese and Orsini di Pitigliano during the Western Schism, illuminates various patterns of conflict and conciliation. Such conflicts witnessed the participation of relatives, allies, and subjects who shared in the sense of community and honour of their lords. The various motivations for actors to become involved on behalf of or in opposition to barons are analysed here in detail. The events of the Farnese–Orsini feud on the micro-level are linked to wider developments on the Italian peninsula and European politics. In the second part of this paper the successful conclusion of the feud is analysed in light of the return of the papacy to Rome. The meticulous detail in which the peace agreement was hammered out then provides further insight into the strategies employed by baronial families to maintain the peace. In all, this paper therefore contributes to the study of violence and peace-making as well as of the Italian nobility during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Lodoli's subversive doctrine of truth-to-material was the most original and influential aspect of his approach to architecture. His concept of organic architecture, the main focus of this paper, has been less studied and is accordingly less well understood, although it was an important facet of his design theory. Lodoli applied his novel approach most obviously to the design of furnishings, particularly of chairs, but also extended it to architecture in a project for the refurbishment of the pilgrims’ hostel at San Francesco della Vigna, in Venice, the only instance in which he put his architectural ideas into practice. In Lodoli's thinking, great importance was given to the notion of comfort, and in this respect he shared new concerns common among French architects and furniture makers of the Enlightenment. Indeed, his ideas about architecture and design owe much to the influence of the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason, truth and universal criticism.
This gazette presents to the reader outside Rome news of recent archaeological activity (in the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019) gleaned from public lectures, conferences, exhibitions, and newspaper reports.