ALPHA: Friends of Antiquity offers lecture tonight

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

ALPHA: Friends of Antiquity continues its series of lectures at 7:30 p.m. today in room 102 of the Jack Arends Visual Arts Building on the Northern Illinois University campus. Founded in 1971, ALPHA is dedicated to the study of the archaeology, literature, philosophy, history and art of the ancient world.

Dr. Katharine A. Raff, Mellon Curatorial Fellow in Roman Art for the Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art at the Art Institute of Chicago will present “Decorative Standardization, Social Status and Urban Tenancy in the Apartments of Roman Ostia.”

From the first to the early third centuries A.D., the city of Ostia served as the major port of Rome and was renowned for its role in trade, its cosmopolitan outlook, and its diverse population. In this lecture, Dr. Katharine Raff will consider the use of domestic decorations (particularly wall paintings) and architecture in the structuring of social relations in the apartments of Ostia.

She will examine the residential complex known as the Garden Houses, which contains numerous apartments that exhibit a standardized plan and strikingly similar decorations. Due to the similarities among these residences, they have traditionally been viewed as upscale rental units designed for Ostia’s well-to-do yet transient population of merchants and tradespeople.

Raff will conclude by questioning the assumption that the apartments were rental units, arguing instead that physical evidence of architectural and decorative alterations might point to owner-occupants, who were legally permitted to renovate.

The public is invited. The lecture is free.

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