An Archaeology of Gesture: Performing Rituals, Sharing Emotions
Session organiser: Valentino Gasparini
World is experienced both through worldly and bodily expressions. Emotions are embodied, deeply rooted in the corporeal and sensual experience, and directly communicated through gestures and vocalisations.
This session aims to reconstruct with a transdisciplinary approach the materiality of gestures in the Roman world. Thanks to the study of the archaeological record, it is possible to identify the "techniques of the body", through which emotions are perceived, enacted, shared and communicated. Objects are not merely neutral things, but a channel which allows us to detect the agency behind the gesture and (even through the repetition and intensification of an act, i.e. ritual) its use of media in order to interact with the socially structured environment and networks it belongs to.
Speakers - chosen among the international specialists - are challenged to test this paradigm on the field of Pompeii, focusing on the material culture concerning sanctuaries, domestic religious practices and funerary rituals.
Friday, Room G15, Henley Business School
2.00 Enacting rituals in sanctuaries, houses and burials. Prolegomena for an archaeology of gesture, Valentino Gasparini
2.30 Cultic objects from an extra-moenia sanctuary in Pompeii, Mario Grimaldi
3.00 Changes of ownership in the Pompeian houses: archaeological evidence, Marco Giglio
4.00 A Mould Lamp with Lampadodromia from Pompeii, Luigi Pedroni
4.30 The Tomb of Obellius Firmus and the Necropolis of Porta Nola at Pompeii, Llorenç Alapont Martin
5.00 Acting the life in the death. The Necropolis of Porta di Nocera as theatre of Pompeian society, Marianna Castiglione
Enacting Rituals in Sanctuaries, Houses and Burials: Prolegomena for an Archaeology of Gesture
Valentino Gasparini (Universität Erfurt, Germany)
The paper aims to introduce the panel from a methodological perspective, analysing - through the archaeological record - the materiality of gestures and their power in communicating emotions, during religious practices both in primary and secondary spaces (sanctuaries, houses and burials). A specific attention will be devoted to the ‘biography’ of artefacts in rituals. Objects carry multiple and transferable meanings, embedded within very specific contexts and consequently varying according to different times and different cultures. Because of their social interaction, artefacts exhibit agency (as actants or inter-agents) and influence primary actors (the intentional beings), who encode physical things with significance which allows them to express complex ideas. Through objects, actors enact and make effective agency in their social milieu: ‘agents are and do not merely use the artefacts which connect them to social others’.
Cultic Objects from an Extra-Moenia Sanctuary in Pompeii
Mario Grimaldi (Università di Napoli Suor Orsola Benincasa, Italy)
The complex of the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus is one of the most remarkable examples in the architectural landscape of Pompeii. Before the occupation of the private, were built impressive works of levelling through waste that led to recovery of large quantities of pre-Roman ceramic material. From the garden of the House of the Golden Bracelet, bordered to the north, comes the cycle of metopes pottery dating from the third- to second-century BC originally belonged to a sacred building and then reused as building material. These findings can be put into connection with each other through the finds from the drain in the garden of the House of Marcus Fabius Rufus. The whole band was so affected by the probable presence of a sacred area, devastated and destroyed at the end of the scond- first half of the first-century BC.
Changes of Ownership in the Pompeian Houses: The Archaeological Evidence
Marco Giglio (Università di Napoli L’Orientale, Italy)
The text aims to analyze, through the study of the archaeological data, the problem of ownership and change of ownerships in the houses of Pompeii. The study of private buildings has often highlighted changes in the spatial organization of the domus, which may have modified their plan, expanded or reduced in size through acquisitions or disposals of rooms from other buildings, showing a very high mobility. These changes have always been interpreted as the result of a change in ownership or a change in the social status of the owner. These phenomena are apparently only conceivable on the basis of the archaeological data in our possession. The paper, through some cases emerging from recent excavations in some Pompeian domus, intends to focus on a few elements that can be considered archaeological markers of domestic rituals to be connected with changes in ownership.
A Mould Lamp with Lampadodromia from Pompeii
Luigi Pedroni (Independent Scholar, Italy)
During the excavations conducted by the University of Innsbruck in the House of Popidius Priscus in Pompeii (VII 2, 20) a pottery lamp mould has been recovered in a late Augustan context with potter’s signature: Q. Cupidcenius. Its discovery allows us to clarify some doubts about its reading and the interpretation of the scene, which the few known positive specimens were not able to solve. The scene shows an uncertain female figure on horseback, with torch, and in the act of adoratio, accompanied by a smaller male one. The identification of the characters and the eventual ritual performed are very doubtful. Since a lampadodromia is represented, it is possible to suggest the identification of the female protagonist with Bendis (Selene). More difficult is to understand the reasons behind such a particular iconographical composition and its choice in Julio-Claudian Pompeii.
The Tomb of Obellius Firmus and the Necropolis of Porta Nola at PompeiiLlorenç Alapont Martin (Universitat de València, Spain), Luigi Pedroni (Independent Scholar, Italy)
The research project focused its attention on the small necropolis outside Porta Nola in Pompeii. We will discuss the results, still preliminary, of the study of Obellius Firmus’ tomb, consisting in a rectangular enclosure around the burial place, and, in particular, of the decorated bone fragments found within attributed to his funeral bed. We will present also the anthropologic investigation conducted also with modern technologies on the casts of fugitives discovered in 1975 near the necropolis outside Porta Nola, and still totally unknown. In particular, in the last campaign, besides the direct examination of the bones visible through the plaster, a survey with laser scanner and X-Ray examination were conducted.
Acting the Life in the Death: The Necropolis of Porta di Nocera as Theatre of Pompeian SocietyMarianna Castiglione (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy)
Tombs, like houses, are strictly related to people, both to the deceased and the alive, and inform on their characters, some of them not always easily perceivable.
The paper, through the exam of different data collected in the Necropolis of Porta di Nocera - one of the most important at Pompeii - , aims to evaluate verbal, gestural and material aspects of this context, which testify ritual and religious practices associated with burials, but also features of life, intimacy and emotions of each person, even deeply connected to the social mobility in the ancient city.
Inscriptions, objects, clothing and posture are all “media”, that give us information not only about the owners of the funerary monuments and their socially normative patterns of behaviour, but also about the social and economic dynamics of the whole population.
Monday, 4 November 2013
Further to Hilary's post, let me share details of another Pompeii-related session planned for the next Roman Archaeology Conference (thank you for sending the info, Valentino Gasparini!):
Posted by Jo Berry at 18:15