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  • Prolegomena to a Study of the Economics of Roman Art

    W.V. Harris

    This article proposes a series of fundamental questions concerning the economic aspects of the production of works of art in the Roman world, focusing chiefly on “high-end” production. The first and last of the five questions addressed serve as a chronological framework: (1) When did war booty and extortion cease to be important sources of the supply of works of art and give way to “normal” markets? (2) In what sense did clients provide artists with patronage? (3) What were the market mechanisms for meeting the demand for works by well-known artists, and what were the effects of the demand for works by famous artists of the past? (4) Was there an integrated empire-wide market in works of art or in the more or less precious materials that artists used? (5) When the Roman economy began its slow fragmentation and disintegration in the third century—a process that was still going on 400 years later—what were the effects on the production and distribution of works of art? Answering these questions with the normal methods of economic history helps show where some of the biggest challenges are for historians of Roman art.

  • The Docimium Marbles of the Sculptures of the Grotto of Tiberius at Sperlonga

    Matthias Bruno, Donato Attanasio, and Walter Prochaska

    Seventeen marble samples drawn from the Scylla, Polyphemos, and Pasquino Groups, the Theft of the Palladium statue group, and the Ganymede statue discovered at Sperlonga in 1957 were investigated scientifically and proved to be all Docimium marble from the quarries of İscehisar near Afyon. New quarry data now available for the lithos lartios of Rhodes and for the white marble of the island of Kos and the quarries of Göktepe near Aphrodisias allow us to rule out old hypotheses as well as newly discovered sources of marble. These results as well as technical details about the manufacture of the sculptures seem to fully cohere with Andreae’s hypothesis that the Sperlonga groups were made on-site during the Tiberian age. They also tend to exclude alternative chronologies. The same arguments, however, make it difficult to believe that the Sperlonga sculptures and the Laocoön, thought to be made by the same Rhodian sculptors (Plin., HN 36.37) joining together several blocks of Parian Lychnites, are coeval. This apparent incongruity is briefly discussed, and the possibility of reconciling prosopographical and art historical considerations with technical marble data is examined.

  • Samothracian Influences at Rome: Cultic and Architectural Exchange in the Second Century B.C.E.

    Lintel relief from the Tomb of the Haterii, Rome
    Lintel relief from the Tomb of the Haterii, Rome

    Maggie L. Popkin

    Roman influence at the Sanctuary of the Great Gods at Samothrace is well documented in the literary and archaeological records. This article asks whether some reflection of Romans’ demonstrable involvement at Samothrace appears in Rome itself. I argue that the tradition of a genealogical link between Rome and Samothrace existed as early as the second century B.C.E. I then systematically examine monuments in Rome that suggest an indebtedness to Samothracian cult or architecture, especially the Temple of the Lares Permarini, the Round Temple on the Tiber, and the altars of the Samothracian gods in the Circus Maximus, but also the Porticus Octavia, the Temple of Hercules Musarum, and the theater next to the Temple of Apollo in Circo. These monuments reveal the impact of Samothrace’s famous mystery cult and renowned Hellenistic architecture in Rome. They demonstrate that the relationship between Rome and Samothrace was dynamic, affecting Rome on levels both cultic and architectural. Ultimately, Samothracian influences at Rome help us better understand the mechanisms of hellenization in Rome in the second century B.C.E. They also demonstrate the impact of Samothrace’s cult and architecture beyond the sanctuary’s heyday in the fourth and third centuries B.C.E. and beyond the Greek-speaking world.

  • Athenian Eye Cups in Context

    Sheramy D. Bundrick

    Since the late 1970s, scholars have explored Athenian eye cups within the presumed context of the symposion, privileging a hypothetical Athenian viewer and themes of masking and play. Such emphases, however, neglect chronology and distribution, which reveal the complexity of the pottery trade during the late sixth and the fifth centuries B.C.E. Although many eye cups have been found in Athens—namely on the Acropolis and mainly from late in the series—the majority come from funerary, sanctuary, and domestic contexts to the west and east. Most of the earliest, largest, and highest-quality examples were exported to Etruria, where the symposion as the Athenians knew it did not exist. Workshops and traders were clearly aware of their audiences at home and abroad and shifted production and distribution of vases to suit. The Etruscan consumers of eye cups made conscious choices regarding their purchase and use. Tomb assemblages from Vulci and elsewhere reveal their multivalent significance: they are emblematic of banqueting in life and death, apotropaic entities, likely with ritual uses. Rather than being signs of hellenization in a foreign culture, Athenian eye cups—like all Greek vases—were brought into Etruria, then integrated, manipulated, and even transformed to suit local needs and beliefs.

  • Chronological Contexts of the Earliest Pottery Neolithic in the South Caucasus: Radiocarbon Dates for Göytepe and Hacı Elamxanlı Tepe, Azerbaijan

    Yoshihiro Nishiaki, Farhad Guliyev, and Seiji Kadowaki

    Research on the earliest Neolithic in the South Caucasus is still in its early stages. Establishing a solid chronological framework will help determine the timing of the emergence and subsequent development of regional Neolithic societies. This article reports on 46 radiocarbon dates obtained from the two recently excavated Early Pottery Neolithic sites of Göytepe and Hacı Elamxanlı Tepe, the oldest farming villages known to date in West Azerbaijan. Comparing the dates from other related sites demonstrates that several settlements representing the earliest Pottery Neolithic emerged almost simultaneously at the beginning of the sixth millennium B.C.E. in the northern and southern foothills of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The lack of evidence for plant cultivation or animal husbandry at earlier sites suggests a foreign origin for agricultural economies in the South Caucasus. However, cultural items characterizing the initial agropastoral communities were not brought to the region as a package. Instead, we suggest that these early farming communities—that is, the Shomutepe-Shulaveri—underwent gradual but significant autochthonous developments likely deriving from the aceramic stage. The chronological framework provided by Göytepe and Hacı Elamxanlı Tepe serves as a reference point for identifying details of early farmers’ cultural developments in the South Caucasus.