“Fictive Funerary Landscapes? Mourning Scenes on Athenian Funerary Vessels in Context”
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A group of Athenian funerary vases known as white-ground lekythoi serves as the most evocative visual evidence of ancient Greek funerary culture. These vases with their vibrant polychrome decoration often depict scenes of women mourning beside the grave marked with an elaborate tombstone. However, the production of these vessels (460-420 BCE) coincides with a period of time in Athens from which very few stone funerary monuments survive in the archaeological record. This discrepancy between the ubiquity of monuments on the vases and their stone counterparts’ scarcity archaeologically has led scholars to debate the nature of these mourning scenes on lekythoi and the role of tombstones within them. Were the scenes meant to evoke nostalgia for the elite funerary culture of the previous generation? Or were they aspirational, depicting the types of commemoration that were no longer socially acceptable or legally permissible? In this talk, Tim Shea engages with this long-running debate by utilizing digital mapping software to analyze the find locations of the few funerary monuments that survive from this period in relation to the excavated remains of pottery workshops where these vessels were likely produced. He also tracks the distribution of vessels across burial deposits in Athens and the wider Mediterranean to consider the effect of market forces on the production of these vessels. We encourage anyone interested in implementing GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and digital mapping techniques into their research or teaching to attend.
Tim Shea received his Ph.D. in Art History from Duke University in 2018. He has taught at Florida State University and Dartmouth College, where he was the lead instructor on their Foreign Study Program in Greece. This spring he will be taking up a position as Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he will be teaching Greek archaeology and ancient sculpture. His current book project, Death and Diplomacy: Citizens and Immigrants in Archaic and Classical Athenian Cemeteries, investigates the ways in which immigrant communities expressed their identity through the funerary landscape of ancient Athens. He is also currently working on a collaborative research project publishing the portrait sculpture from the Athenian Agora.
Image credit: Munich Painter 2335, Lekythos with Mourning Scene, 430-420 BCE, terracotta, Ackland Art Museum
Contact: Christoph Brachmann, firstname.lastname@example.org