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Luca Ricci, University of Oxford

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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The second and the first centuries BC brought witness to a phenomenon of sacred monumentalisation in Central Italy whereby various sanctuaries were (re)built following Hellenistic models. Traditionally, the focus of the scholarly enquiry laid on representational frameworks that emphasised a dichotomy of acceptance/rejection: the sites embodied either an adoption of Romanitas in line with the local elites’ self-Romanisation or a reassertion of local identity in opposition to Rome. These arguments pose two methodological flaws. Firstly, representational approaches run the risk of perpetrating a vicious circle: identity, which should be the result of the enquiry, is also a preliminary condition of the enquiry. Secondly, the representational treatment of the monumental sanctuaries in Latium does not encourage a diachronic understanding of the phenomenon, which has been treated as socially and culturally uniform despite extending over a period of roughly two centuries. In the paper, I propose to move away from this static model by emphasising materiality and taking into account the human-object entanglement. I will focus on the first wave of the monumentalisation phenomenon, between the early- and the mid-second century BC, and I will show that the materiality of the architectural specimens (e.g., the Asklepieion of Fregellae and the sanctuary of Juno at Gabii) can be employed to understand the social, cultural, and historical significance behind the sites at a local, regional, and Mediterranean level. Concurrently, I will examine a diachronic variation across this first wave, eventually showing the importance of networks within Latium and how crucial it is to examine the relationship between humans and objects. From a methodological standpoint, I will employ energetics to contextualise the constructions at the local level, especially in relation to wider projects of civic refurbishment. As for the regional and Mediterranean tiers, I will focus on the employment of models and construction techniques.