“Getting Lost and Finding Yourself in Ancient Rome.”
Evan Jewell, Rutgers University-Camden
December 9, 2021 · 4:30 pm—6:00 pm · Betts Auditorium and Zoom
Department of Classics
“The long-standing study of Roman topography has primarily concerned itself with locating buildings, monuments, and other features mentioned in literary and documentary texts on an aerial view map, but most Romans did not navigate or conceive of their city’s space in this way on a quotidian basis. In contrast to this cartographical approach, we can adopt the spatial theories of “wayfinding” and “wayshowing”, to approach the evidence—from slave collars to brick stamps—anew, at street-view, for what they reveal about the fundamental role of landmarks in the city of Rome for everyday navigation. In particular, a corpus of epitaphs unique to Rome, which commemorate the specific location of the deceased’s occupation, allows scholars to sketch the partial outlines of non-elite and sub-elite topographies of the city from this perspective. As an applied case study, the cityscape frieze from the Tomb of the Haterii demonstrates the importance of locating oneself in the urban fabric for local identity-making. My reassessment of the frieze focuses on its representation of two inscribed arches as an enactment of the familial commemoration of their most well-known places of labor. As a prolegomenon to an ongoing study of subaltern and shared topographies, this paper further suggests how wayfinding-showing may partly offer a pathway to recovering these and how, in contrast to other Roman cities, the processes of identity-making which drew upon them were particular to Rome’s unparalleled urban scale and population from the end of the 1st century BCE onwards.”
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