Roman Funerary Reliefs and North African Identity
My research is focusing on the complexity of local individual and group identity and reactions to Roman imperialism displayed on Roman-period funerary relief in Tripolitania, Libya. In Tripolitania, Roman period cemeteries are rich in mausolea decorated with funerary reliefs and statues that depict ritual, religious and symbolic scenes, as well as representations of daily life. Research on these reliefs has been predominantly conducted on scenes correlating with Roman or Punic artistic norms, with the focus on individual sites or monuments. As a result, many aspects that influence or determine the choice of relief depictions on funerary monuments have received very limited attention despite their potential to elucidate much about localized traditions, religion and rituals in and beyond the boundaries of the North African Roman provinces.
I will investigate how the iconography of funerary reliefs reflects local identities and/or ethnicity rather than simply being a by-product of ‘Romanisation’ and ‘Imperialism’. What symbolism underlies the reliefs in the different geographical areas of Tripolitania? How can they be compared and interpreted and to what extent can we speak of adoption, resistance or continuation of local traditions within these images? How evident are earlier Punic influences? Does trans-Saharan contact influence these depictions? My study will incorporate approaches also from anthropology and modern sociology to interrogate the data in a new way and widen the ‘traditional’ avenues of enquiry.
Julia will be presenting her work at the Festival of Postgraduate Research 17th May 2012 - view Julia's festival poster.
Contact Julia Nikolaus