Elena Svettini Remme, King's College London
This Postgraduate-work-in-progress seminar will be held online via Zoom and in person in room 102, Senate House. Booking is required.
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In 1860, following agricultural works near the Church of San Nicola in Agrigento, 'four rooms paved with mosaics, a courtyard adorned with twenty-eight Doric columns and a smaller room, perhaps intended for family deities' were accidentally discovered. Also, 'an arula was collected with a carved but unfinished dedication (in Greek) to a saving deity'. It was immediately apparent to the archaeologists that these structures belonged to a Greek house (today's Casa IA). However, subsequent excavations revealed that the adjacent structures connected to the peristyle showed notable features of a Roman dwelling. Therefore, the entire building was compared to the House of the Faun in Pompeii. A potential difficulty immediately arose for scholars: how to justify the combination of architectural styles or engage in the study of continuity between the Greek Akragas and the Roman Agrigentum, as confirmed in the excavations of the second half of the twentieth century? The discovery of two other buildings (Casa IIA and Casa IIB) that retain a mixture of similar characteristics (Hellenistic floorings and fragments of wall painted decorations) and monumental features contributed to complicating the scenario. At the end of intensive excavations, the whole area, known as the Hellenistic-Roman Urban Quarter, revealed that many dwellings within the Insulae occupied smaller standard housing units, which maintained Roman mosaics and wall painted decorations as well as floorplans of the earlier Greek tradition. This paper investigates the dialectics between the domestic architectural evidence of Hellenistic Sicily and the Hellenistic residences in the eastern Mediterranean. With a particular focus on the peristyle house, it will explore the domestic decoration still in situ in Agrigento as a medium to differentiate between a private/domestic space and a public/civic building. This research ties in with the recent studies on the ancient wall painting decoration inside Agrigento's houses, the survey of the preserved floor decoration in the HRUQ and the monumental public space of the city, recently enriched by the discovery of the long-lost theatre.