"This Past Before My Eyes is My Own": The role of literacy in the reuse of inscriptions...
(Conferences / Seminars / Lectures)
...in post classical antiquity more information...
History of Art New Publication Speaker Series
Cosponsored by Department of Art, Art History, and Design
By most accounts, the "meaningful reuse" of architectural fragments in the construction of buildings and monuments became a popular practice only in the late Roman and Byzantine Mediterranean. For unlike prior instances of reuse, which had taken place everywhere throughout time, this new form of recycling seems to have been designed to draw attention to the object's previous life in a different setting. This is most readily apparent in the case of inscriptions, which can be recognized in the walls and pavements of countless buildings of the Medieval period. However, given the relatively low levels of Greek and Latin literacy in antiquity, it is worth asking whether these reused inscriptions were meant to be read, or whether it was sufficient that they be recognized as ancient writing. This presentation seeks to use the example of contemporary art as a way to approach the question and to advance the scholarly discussion, which remains divided on the issue.