MI-72. TERRACOTTAS FROM ROMAN OSTIA: SNAPSHOTS OF EVERYDAY LIFE. Their production and use in domestic, ritual and funerary contexts
Elena Martelli, 2021, 487 p., ill. coul. (ISBN : 978-2-35518-114-6).
language : English
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Roman Ostia, port of Rome, was a chief collection point of goods with a multi-ethnic population. This book investigates the meaning of overlooked terracottas which, with their low economic value but strong symbolic significance, reveal key evidence about daily life in this multicultural milieu.
502 portable clay objects were examined: namely figurines (humans, deities, animals), ornamental and death masks, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic vessels (e.g. depicting the old drunken woman or Mother Goddess), highly decorated beehive and circular money boxes, and hemispherical moulds characterised by two interlocking halves impressed with scenes from the theatre, the circus and the amphitheatre.
A novel method for analysing artefacts was employed combining the Italian iconographical tradition for the study of the piece with North European theoretical and contextual approaches towards finds distribution, social identity and the life cycle. Pilot experiments carried out on moulds have generated original views about their possible use for plaster casting in polyvalent workshops.
Terracottas in the Ostian context: aims and methods of the research
Clay figurines, figurine lamps and busts
Wheel–made clay pigs with round bodies decorated by glass beads
Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic vessels
Highly-decorated beehive-shaped and circular money boxes
Masks for decorative purposes and for rituals (death masks)
Wax, cake or plaster moulds?
Manufacture and the origin of the Ostian terracottas: local-regional productions and imported items.
Ostia: distribution and dating
Introduction to the catalogue