The NYU Institute for the Study of the Ancient World presents
Sacro-Creative Action and the Making of Gods in and beyond Rome
John Hopkins (ISAW Visiting Scholar)
Wednesday, September 13, 2023 @ 5:30-7:30pm
ISAW Lecture Hall
15 East 84th Street, New York, NY 10028
This event is free and open to the public, however an RSVP is required.
It is well known that Roman life was steeped in religious practice. Historians also generally understand that the predation of an imperializing, centrally administered government in Rome began to deploy religion as a syncretizing, assimilationist and appropriative measure in Italic and Mediterranean occupation from the third century BCE, at least. This is probably true, and the violent and insidious epistemicide that followed is increasingly well documented. Still, the idea of Roman religion as a kind of imperial weapon imagines in some ways a world where, before and during conquest, there had been such a thing as Roman religion and that those who organized its institutions and oversaw its influences were elite sociopolitical figures. This talk will contend with both suppositions by considering the creative intelligence of itinerant, often non-Roman maker communities, the constitutive ecologies of sacred materials, and the effective roles of sacro-material creation in ritual encounters and religious institutions before and during the early years of Roman expansion.
John Hopkins is Associate Professor of the art and archaeology of ancient Mediterranean peoples in the Department of Art History and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. His research treats visual, spatial and physical experience; processes of making and maker communities; and the composition of sociocultural practices through the crafting of goods. He is author of The Genesis of Roman Architecture (2016, Yale UP), a study of art and architecture in Rome up to the mid fifth century BCE. It focuses on two aspects of object-oriented connections: first, those tying buildings/builders in Rome with communities across the Mediterranean, and, second, the reciprocal relationship of spatial production and social activity in the generation of an urban landscape. His second book, Unbound from Rome: Art and Craft in a Fluid Landscape, 650-250 BCE (fall 2023, Yale UP), is an investigation of makers, materials and the role that craft communities play in the fabrication of sociocultural practices. It also takes as a central tenet the dismantling of imperialist culture-conglomerates, including the historically structuring notion of a Roman world or Roman period as well as the multiplicity and fragmentariness of material lifeworlds. He is author of over twenty articles, book chapters and reviews and is co-editor of two volumes on approaches to object biography and forgery studies.
Hopkins currently serves as co-director of the Quirinal Project in Rome and as director of the Antefixa Project. As a 2023-2024 fellow at ISAW he will focus on these two projects. The first of these includes the comprehensive publication of a site in the heart of Rome with a 2500-year use life, from approximately 650 BCE to the present and includes what may be Rome's earliest monumental domestic structure, a portion of large fortification wall and a sanctuary. As co-director, he is working with the Soprintendenza Speciale to develop a new museum on the site. The second project is a long-term scientific, digitization, conservation and object analysis project, focusing on architectural sculpture from multiple sites (and many museums) in Central Italy from ca. 725-150 BCE. It's goal is to trace networks, movements and actions of maker and creative labor communities by way of the comparative study of replicated and non-replicated materials.
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