New Ancient Mediterranean Database: Public Monuments in Roman Greece

A new project called Monuments of Roman Greece is under development at the University of Oxford. It covers about four centuries, c. 200 BCE – 200 CE, from when Rome began to expand into the Greek area of influence to the height of the Roman Empire, and will result in a series of articles plus a database.

The Met Bronze Veiled Masked Dancer

From the project website:

“Under the Roman Empire the marketplaces, streets, gymnasia and theatres of the cities of Greece were full of monuments such as tombs, inscribed stelai and – most numerous of all – statues. There were statues of bronze and of marble, portraying gods, heroes, emperors, kings and local dignitaries. Some of these monuments had already stood for centuries; others were fairly recent. Arguably no urban culture in history, with the possible exception of Rome itself, has set up such vast numbers of monuments in its public spaces. The nearest modern analogy for the amount of cultural material on display in the Roman period polis would be the museum. Yet the analogy falls short – the settings where these monuments stood were not places designed primarily for the passive viewing of works of art, they were vibrant public spaces, alive with the tumult and commotion of the city. If we are to understand the society and culture of these cities it is vital that we understand the impact of public monuments on the people who moved about them in their daily lives.“

The work is carried out by Dr. C. P. Dickenson at the Faculty of Classics, with Prof. R. R. R. Smith as scientific adviser. Both the website and the database are still in progress. Also, it sounds like the final home of the database is not finalized at the time of this writing; however, a browsable version is currently up on the University of Oxford website.

Visit the Public Monuments in Roman Greece website for scope and instructions on searching plus more info, or read Dr. Dickenson’s blog for behind-the-scenes tidbits on the development work, among other things.

Image: Bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer, from the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, bequest of Walter C. Baker in 1971, accession number 1972.118.95, by Eppu Jensen (Greek; 3rd-2nd century BCE)