Opulence and Color: The Marble of Ancient Rome with Dr. Dimosthenis Kosmopoulos

Opulence and Color: The Marble of Ancient Rome with Dr. Dimosthenis Kosmopoulos


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“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble”, said Augustus. In this phrase alone the former Roman emperor states two of the most distinctive materials of Roman architecture: bricks and marble. The import and use of marble were one of the most important activities (and prosperous businesses) in ancient Roman architecture. Between the second century BC and the fifth century AD, Rome and the whole Roman world was enriched with marble ornamentation. This conversation will explore the theme of marble in ancient Rome as we analyze everything from marble supply to the location of quarries to its various uses.

During the early Republic, the lack of marble quarries forced the Roman architects to use local stones like tuff and limestone to build bridges, aqueducts, and residences. However, from the second century BC thanks to the development of cement and territorial expansion the aspect of Rome changed. We’ll discuss how after the conquest of Greece in the second century BC, along with the treasures, Greek workshops followed the victorious general in the city. In 146 BC the first marble temple in Rome was built: the Temple of Jupiter Stator. We’ll learn about the workshops (of Greek origin) that were used to carve marble and shape the city of Rome through their marble mastery.

Gradually, marble was introduced in Rome and became a symbol of economic wealth and ostentation, initially ostracized by the conservative class. However, we’ll discuss its quick rise to prominence: marble floors and statues enriched the public monuments and the private houses. We will learn about the location of the most important ancient marble quarries in the Mediterranean area, the mining, and transportation process, and the subsequent use of the material in Roman architecture, sculpture, and ornamentation. Moreover, we will talk about the reuse of marble in Medieval Rome.

Led by an expert on Greek-Roman Archaeology, Dr. Dimosthenis Kosmopoulos, this interactive seminar will focus on the supply and various uses of marble in ancient Rome. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with increased knowledge of the intense presence of marble in the architecture and ornamentation of ancient Rome.

During his university studies at “La Sapienza” in Rome, Dimosthenis participated in several national and international projects, such as the study of Latin epigraphy and Roman pottery as well as various archaeological excavations in different areas of Rome (Roman Forum, Palatine, Mausoleum of Augustus). His work as an archaeologist brought him to carry out research in classical art and architecture, exploring, in particular, the relationship between iconography and architecture as ancient Greek and Roman artistic expressions. Dimosthenis completed his Ph.D. with a thesis on temple architecture in the Italian peninsula during the Republican period. This topic became his area of expertise. His knowledge of archaeology, ancient art history and Roman architecture is the key that he uses to share his unique perspective on the Eternal City.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
67%
(2)
33%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
D
D.H.
The Marbles of Ancient Rome
S
S.
A
A.