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Welcome to iconoclasm.dk 2 July 2005

Posted by Troels in : General, Thesis Rant , trackback

Welcome. This blog tracks work on my thesis that investigates the phenomenon of iconoclasm in the late antique period, mainly 4th century CE. I’ll cover topics that are related to the study of iconoclasm as well as give some case studies. My main area is Roman sculpture, but all kinds of media were victims of iconoclasm. For the next 5-6 months or so, I’ll be going through a wide range of ancient literary sources describing the phenomenon, so there will be a fair bit about late antique/early Christian authors as well. Broader topics, such as the religion, history and art of the period, will be covered too, when I have the time.

Iconoclasm raises a range of questions related to the role of violence in Roman society, the nature of Roman polytheism, the change in perception of art over time, and conflict and co-existence between pagans and Christians.

However, if you start to look for iconoclasm uncritically, you could find it everywhere, since virtually no piece of sculpture from antiquity has survived to this day unscarred. Most ‘complete’ pieces that we see today are the result of restoration works dating from the Renaissance onwards. Thus, a holistic approach with focus on interpretation and context is essential. One of the big questions is how an archaeological study of iconoclasm should be carried out? Discussion of this question will constitute the majority of the thesis’ methodological and theoretical part.

The deadline is September 1, 2006, so there is plenty of time to cover as many aspects of the topic as possible. Comments are, of course, welcome.

By the way, I also maintain a much more eclectic blog in Danish here.

Comments

1. Cornelius Holtorf - 3 July 2005

Hi Troels

Congratulations, this is a great topic for both a thesis, and a blog.

I tend to like research on fields like this one especially when they are characterised by some reflexivity. The two questions I have for you are therefore these:

1. To what extend is your own thesis iconoclastic too? In other words, how many senior archaeologists are you going to remove from their pillars?

2. Do you allow for your own statue (the thesis, the scholar) to be brought down too? How might your argument apply to yourself (in the future)?

Good luck with this blog and the research!

Cornelius

2. Troels - 3 July 2005

Hi Cornelius,

Thanks for the input.

These are two difficult questions, but I think some kind of answer will emerge from my blog entries in the future. I can at least say that I do not specifically aim to be iconoclastic. That said, there are certain issues that I want to deal with in a critical way, and the practice of modern conservators and archaeologists will therefore come under attack, so-to-speak.

I am also well aware of the irony of iconoclasm.

Troels