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Statue Bases and Mutilated Inscriptions 2 September 2005

Posted by Troels in : Case Studies , trackback

Congratulations to Jakob (Munk Højte), whose PhD dissertation “Roman Imperial Statue Bases from Augustus to Commodus” now finally is available from Aarhus University Press in the new-format Aarhus Studies in Mediterranean Antiquity (ASMA) vol. 7.

Roman Imperial Statue Bases

As Philip (Harland) has shown in a series of recent posts epigraphy is an incredibly valuable source to the ancient world. It is also an interdisciplinary field divided between ancient history, classical philology and archaeology, which means that inscriptions sometimes have been neglected in purely archaeological and art historical works. In the case of Roman imperial portraiture, this led to a situation where statue bases and sculpture have mostly been studied separately. This is what Jakob’s study aims to change, and he was worked intesively with statistical analysis to gain new insights into the distribution and production of Roman imperial portraits.

Recently, I have also been working with epigraphy and statue bases. The names of “bad” emperors were regularly erased from inscriptions as part of the process of damnatio memoriae (a famous example is the erasure of Geta’s name from the Arch of Septimius Severus on the Roman Forum), but I am looking for mutilated inscriptions for my work on early Christian iconoclasm. There are a few examples from Ephesus. In the city’s Prytaneum, the name of the goddess Artemis was erased, and there is a similar case from the harbour baths. More soon.

P.S. Philip now gives another nice example of an inscription subjected to damnatio memoriae.


1. Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean » New study on Roman imperial statue bases and Troels on inscription erasures (Epigraphy 5) - 13 December 2005

[...] Over on “Towards an Archaeology of Iconoclasm“, Troels mentions a new study by Jakob Munk Højte on Roman imperial statue bases. Troels then goes on to the question of the mutilation of inscriptions, and mentions a case in the Prytaneion (presidency building) at Ephesus which involves the obliteration of the goddess Artemis’ name (probably by Christians). Troels also promises some more entries on the topic, to which I will look forward. [...]

2. Towards an Archaeology of Iconoclasm » Inscriptions Mutilated by Christians - 25 April 2006

[...] A phenomenon that has received considerable less attention is the Christian removal of names of pagan gods in inscriptions. I have already mentioned a couple of examples from Ephesus, and there are further cases from Aphrodisias, including the inscription seen in the photo below. [...]

3. Joe Geranio - 20 June 2008

Roman Imperial Statue bases and the Julio Claudian section of his online library of Caligulan inscriptions is extensive.

Joe Geranio