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The Idiom of Urban Display: Architectural Relief Sculpture in the Late Roman Villa of Chiragan (Haute-Garonne)

The Idiom of Urban Display: Architectural Relief Sculpture in the Late Roman Villa of Chiragan (Haute-Garonne)

This article presents an analytical study of the Late Antique sculptural relief program at the Roman villa of Chiragan (Martres-Tolosane, Haute-Garonne), which includes a series of mythological panels and a portrait in relief. Although Chiragan’s reliefs have long been associated with Aphrodisian workshops, this study marks them as products of a local workshop, based on stylistic traits and recent scientific analyses of the marble. Using comparanda found in a series of Late Antique portraits from Chiragan, I date the reliefs to the later fourth or early fifth century CE. I also consider evidence for an honorific relief portrait at the villa that, together with the program of architectural relief sculpture, makes explicit reference to a distinctly urban visual rhetoric. In conclusion, I argue that Chiragan’s reliefs actively court association with the urban sphere, which in turn suggests the increasing importance of the villa as a sociopolitical locus in the Late Roman West.

The Idiom of Urban Display: Architectural Relief Sculpture in the Late Roman Villa of Chiragan (Haute-Garonne)

By Sarah Elizabeth Beckmann

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 124, No. 1 (January 2020), p. 133–160

DOI: 10.3764/aja.124.1.0133

© 2020 Archaeological Institute of America