• Unconquered Rome? Translating the Visual in Early Medieval Material Culture (Accepted Version)

    Matthias Friedrich (see profile)
    Archaeology, Middle Ages, Material culture, Art, Roman, Civilization, Classical, History, Ancient
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    assemblage, object biography, Early medieval archaeology, Roman art, Late Antiquity, Early medieval art
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    The transformation of the Roman World into the Middle Ages is an ever-recurring theme in (art-)historical and archaeological scholarship. While there is some interest in material translations in prehistoric archaeology, the visual and material transformations and translations in the archaeological record of the Middle Ages have not been in the academic limelight. This chapter introduces Merovingian 7th-century repoussé disc brooches depicting the personification of invincible and unconquered Rome. While these Roma Invicta brooches resemble rare late antique medallions and translate their distinctive imperial iconography to early medieval female dress, the 5th to 11th-century nummular brooches (Münzfibeln, fibules monétiformes) adopt imperial coinage more miscellaneously. The common ground of the nummular brooches discussed here is the likeness of the emperor that was a frequently used template in early medieval material and visual culture. The visual translations range from stylised portraits up to actual coins reworked and reused in medieval objects. Here, the reuse of coins and carved gemstones in brooches and finger rings is explored through the notions of objects biographies and ‘travelling’ things. These ‘assemblages’ combine old and new-form objects in a new social and historical setting and, for that reason, withstand established classification and categories. In general, the adaption, translation, and reassembling of images and actual objects of authority to personal objects play active roles in the vast changes in the post-Roman West. The well-established imperial and powerful motifs provide a strong visual and material anchor in the social and political changes after the end of the Roman world, a visual transformation of the Roman power of images into the early Middle Ages.
    Accepted version (post peer-review version without publisher formatting).
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    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
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