Diliana Angelova, Professor

Closed (1) Authority, Ritual, and the Social Imaginary: Roman Historical Reliefs

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

In ancient Rome, any major undertaking, from the personal to the communal, called for rituals that sought to reveal the will of the gods and appease them with appropriate offerings. Weddings, military campaigns and triumphal returns, the new year and and new buildings all required appropriate rituals. Religious rituals were also central to how the ancient Romans articulated and legitimated authority--what it was, who could have it, and why. In many instances, rituals associated with specific events of an emperor's life were commemorated with so-called historical reliefs, visual narratives carved in marble.
This project seeks to contribute to the current scholarship on historical reliefs and their utility in accessing the Roman social imaginary about authority through the iconographic study of a monument known as the Ara Pacis Augustae, the Altar of Augustan Peace, dedicated to Augustus and built in the 1st c. BCE. This monument has been studied for a long time and features a long procession of Roman dignitaries, men as well as women, many of whom are recognizable from their physiognomic features. Yet, though much is known about this monument, a lot of enigmas remain. Identifying the figures precisely and the event commemorated is especially important because of the bold claims this monument makes about Roman women and the gendered conceptualization of authority it fosters.

I seek help with the following tasks: 1) researching the scholarship on the monument (mainly work with the Dyabola database), 2) creating a bibliography in EndNote, and 3) reading through (mostly skimming) the voluminous scholarship on that monument in a systematic way and creating a table that would list how each of the relevant publications identifies the main figures on the relief.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Daniel Zimmerman , Graduate Student

Qualifications: Required: advanced reading knowledge of German and/or Italian.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

Related website: http://web.mit.edu/course/21/21h.402/www/arapacis/main.html

Closed (2) Byzantine Ivories Imagebank--a digital catalogue

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

In the middle ages, elephant ivory was a luxury good prized for its beauty. Ivory boxes, ivory combs, ivory mirrors, and ivory hair pins were produced all over the Mediterranean. The goal of this project is to create a website that would help scholars study Byzantine objects made of ivory, and produced roughly from the fourth through the twelfth centuries. Studying these objects is important because they reveal an unusual side of Byzantium, one that demonstrates that the Byzantines were not all absorbed in the pursuit of Christian piety, but valued merrymaking, eroticism and the cultural heritage of Greece and Rome, including the pagan myths and the pagan gods.
Because of historical circumstances, Byzantine ivories are now found in museums all over Europe and North America, making it very difficult for researchers to study them. The most comprehensive catalogue of Byzantine ivories was published in 1930, in black-and-white, in German. It is time for a new approach to how these objects are published. The website I have in mind aims functioning like a digital catalogue of the ivories, a publication for the researchers of the 21st century. It takes advantage of modern technologies (such as 3-d models of the boxes, RTI images (on this, see the weblink below), and high-res color photographs).

Student apprentices will help me create a website based on a template. The work calls for learning the basics of the WordPress platform, the basic image-processing techniques in Adobe Photoshop (such as saving, renaming in bulk, cropping, light editing, etc.). The skills learned in this project are highly transferrable.
For students of the middle ages or art, the project will help build skills in the digital humanities.

Qualifications: Required: 1)some familiarity with Adobe Photo Shop or willingness to learn the basic functions 2) willingness to learn the basics of the WordPress platform, and some imaging software programs as needed. A plus: 3) familiarity with HTML 4) some experience with creating websites, coding, the Adobe suite of programs.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs

Related website: http://culturalheritageimaging.org/Technologies/RTI/

Related website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Biographies_of_living_persons
Related website: https://crln.acrl.org/index.php/crlnews/article/view/9164/10116