HomeCommunicating Objects. Material, Literary and Iconographic Instances of Objects in a Human Universe in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

HomeCommunicating Objects. Material, Literary and Iconographic Instances of Objects in a Human Universe in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

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Published on Friday, November 27, 2020


This conference is organized by the Department of Ancient History, Archaeology and History of Art (Faculty of History, University of Bucharest) with the collaboration of the International Society for Cultural History. It centers on material culture in Antiquity and the Middle Ages through the exploration of instances of objects, especially objects placed in association, and their materiality,  expressivity and connectivity in a variety of media.  



Material culture occupies a special place in most research conducted on Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Interdisciplinary approaches have allowed for the enrichment of traditional paradigms used by archaeologists and historians, as a follow-up to the valorisation of the social life of things, or of the agency characterising objects in any given society. Objects which are deliberately associated are more susceptible of becoming expressive in the presence of humans. From this perspective, associating objects, and exploring potential reasons for their association and for their compatibility, opens up multiple possibilities for reflection.

The topics we explore in this conference pertain to

  • the place of associated objects in literary discourses, their role in the construction of characters or as vehicles used to advance the action, to create images or to emphasize key moments in the economy of the texts; the practices of writing about objects, ways of selecting and including them in texts, and the study of certain characteristics of objects judged as indispensable to the fulfillment of said objects’ narrative roles.
  • the place of associated objects in constructing images, be they objects carrying images or objects being represented; the manners of representing objects, the objects’ insertion in representations and their contributions to visually illustrated discourses.
  • the intrinsic materiality of objects which places the discussion in the field of archaeology

 A favoured line of inquiry comes from synchronic and comparative approaches to various media where objects are placed in association in order to better assess multiple perspectives and perceptions to which the objects could be subjected, as well as the ways in which objects, once put together in particular and deliberate ways, acquire the capacity of acting as agents.


All hours are Bucharest, Romania local time (GMT+2). 

Friday, November 27th 

9.45-10.00 – Opening Remarks and Institutional Greetings

Chair: Alexandra Lițu (University of Bucharest; CEREFREA) 

  • Daniela Zaharia (Head of Department of Ancient History, Archaeology and History of Art, University of Bucharest)

10.00-10.40 – Keynote Speaker Ecaterina Lung (University of Bucharest; ISCH),  Directions in Material Culture Studies and the International Society for Cultural History 

First session – Saints, Lovers, Warriors, Merchants: Material Expressions in the Middle Ages

Chair: Ecaterina Lung (University of Bucharest; ISCH)

  • 10.40-11.10-Ingela Wahlberg (Uppsala University),  It Is All in the Details. Analysing Embroideries in Search for Symbols of Faith and Saints 
  • 11.10-11.40-Teodoro De Giorgio (Italian Institute of Human Sciences, Florence-Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa), Il trono e la colomba. A proposito della connessione iconografica tra Etimasia e Pentecoste nel tardo Medioevo 
  • 11.40-12.10-Elena Lavrentieva (Institute of Theory and History of Architecture and Urban Planning, Moscow), Capitals as Communicating Points of Building Stages in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
  • 12.10-12.40-Charlotte Nash (Kent University & The British Museum), Could Middle Eastern Glass Bangles Indicate Changes in Economy, Society and Personal Identity? An Investigation into the Origins, Circulation and Cultural Impact of their Dissemination across the Indian Ocean in the Middle Ages
  • 12.40-13.10-Daniela Maria Dantas Gomes (Centre for History of the University of Lisbon), Inside a Hero’s Panoply: the Role of Weaponry in the Narrative of the Hero’s Journey, from the Ancient World to the Arthurian Cycle 
  • 13.10-13.40-Luminița Diaconu (Université de Bucarest), Des gages d’amour dans Le Roman du Châtelain de Coucy et de la Dame de Fayel jusqu’à la fortune du « don du cœur » dans l’iconographie médiévale 
  • 13.40-14-Additional Discussions 

14-15-Lunch Break

Second Session-Images, Objects, Memories

Chair: Vladimir Crețulescu (University of Bucharest)

  • 15-15.30-Caterina Mascolo (Università di Roma La Sapienza), Complessità, diversità di ruolo ed effetto comunicativo delle immagini in un contesto rituale: l’associazione tra i simulacra e i loro ornamenta 
  • 15.30-16-Mark McCahill (University of Glasgow), Roman Ritual and the Use of Imagines as Memory Objects 
  • 16-16.30-Jorge Elices Ocón (Universidade Federal de São Paulo), The Ṣanam Hīrkuliš in al-Andalus: a Statue to Remember the Past, an Image to Decipher the Present, an Object to Narrate the Future 


Third Session-The Word and the Object in a Roman Literary Universe

Chair: Florica Mihuț (University of Bucharest)

  • 17-17.30-Tine Delafontaine (Université de Lille 3),  Digitis charta notata meis : références aux composants matériels de l’épître dans les Héroïdes 
  • 17.30-18-Tiziana Ragno (University of Foggia), Playing Time, Playing Death: Clocks and Trumpets as Speaking Objects in Petronius 
  • 18-18.30-Vanda Strachan (University of Oxford), An Anti-Social Life of Things: The Case of Objects Struck by Lightning in Ancient Rome 
  • 18.30-19.00-Lavinia Scolari (University of Palermo), The Objects of Gift in Virgil’s Aeneid 
  • 19.00-19.30-Gianmarco Bianchini (University of Toronto), Material Culture and Latin Poetry: a Reciprocal Influence 

Saturday, November 28th

9.15-10 – Keynote Speaker

Chair: Ecaterina Lung (University of Bucharest; ISCH),

  • Jörg Rogge (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität; Chair of the International Society for Cultural History),  The Town Hall of Medieval Augsburg - A Material Expression of Communal Self-Concept

First Session-Gods and Objects

Chair: Daniela Zaharia (University of Bucharest)

  • 10-10.30-Liviu Iancu (University of Bucharest), Communicating Statuettes: Three Inscribed Bronze Apis Bulls, Three Archaic Aegean Mercenaries in Egypt, Two Degrees of Acculturation? 
  • 10.30-11-Ana Isabel Blasco Torres (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Beyond Identification: Mummy Labels as Religious Objects in Graeco-Roman Egypt 
  • 11-11.30-Palma Karković Takalić (University of Rijeka), Unusual Objects on a Votive Altar Dedicated to Isis from Galižana                                                   *    
  • 11.30-12-Giulia Frigerio (University of Kent), Material Culture at the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi: Affecting the Mind without the Use of Drugs 
  • 12-12.30-Ioannis Mitsios (The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), With the Protective Powers of Athena on Our Side! The Trojan Palladion on the North Metopes of the Parthenon 
  • 12.30-13.00-Additional discussions 

13.00-14.00-Lunch Break 

Second Session-Individual and Communal Voices on Objects

Chair: Alexandra Lițu (University of Bucarest; CEREFREA) 

  • 14-14.30-Ștefan Nițu (University of Oxford), Sepulchral Voices: Aurality and Agency in Archaic and Early Classical Greek Epitaphs 
  • 14.30-15-Serena Evelina Peruch (Università degli Studi di Padova), Oggetti simbolici e propagandistici nella monetazione di età antigonide  
  • 15-15.30-İsmail Akkaș (Karamanoglu Mehmetbey University), The Use of Amphora Stamps as a Propaganda Tool in Classical and Hellenistic Period 
  • 15.30-16-Alexandru Avram (Université du Maine), Quelques remarques sur les taureaux votifs dans les sanctuaires grecs 
  • 16-16.30-Hallie G. Meredith (Washington State University), Portable Inscribed Commemorations: Personalised 3rd – 6th century AD Imperial and Christian Speaking Objects on Display 


Third Session-Objects in Context, Objects as a Context in the Greek World

Chair: Adam Rabinowitz (University of Texas at Austin)

  • 17-17.30- Anthi Dipla (Open University of Cyprus), Hanging/Leaning on the Wall, Resting on the Floor: the Role of Portable Objects in Creating Semiotic and Ideological Narratives on Athenian Vases 
  • 17.30-18-Rosie Wyles (University of Kent), Objects of Grief 
  • 18-18.30-Lisa Roques (Ausonius UMR 5607 – Université Bordeaux Montaigne), Mais de quoi parlent-ils donc? À propos d’un vase « dactylôton » décrit par les déipnosophistes… 
  • 18.30-19-Carmen Sánchez FernándezJorge Tomás García (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), De Grecia a la península ibérica: memoria, iconografía e interacción cultural de la cerámica griega en el contexto funerario íbero 
  • 19-19.30-Yael Young (The Open University; Shenkar College, Israel), The Invention of the Strigil in Athenian Iconography 
  • 19.30-20-Chiara Ballestrazzi (Institut für klassische Archäologie, Freie Universität Berlin),  “All ’arte ostile la gemma” (AP 9, 752). Il dialogo tra arte e materia nella glittica ellenistica e imperiale

Sunday, November 29th

First Session-Materiality of Life and Death in the Roman World

Chair: Alexandra Țârlea (University of Bucharest)

  • 10.30-11-Ángeles Alonso Alonso (Universidad de Cantabria), Ferramenta et monumenta. Significado y trascendencia de la representación de instrumental médico en los monumentos funerarios de época romana 
  • 11-11.30-Angela Bosco (Università di Bologna), Nymphaea Pompeiana: la costruzione di una scenografia domestica 
  • 11.30-12-Noé Conejo Delgado (University of Seville), La materialización de la identidad: arquitectura  y consumo en las villae bajo imperiales de Lusitania 
  • 12-12.30-Eleonora Romanò (Università degli Studi di Pisa), Fabiana Susini (Università degli Studi di Pisa), La mensa funeraria come medium tra i vivi e i morti: dall’epulum pagano al refrigerium cristiano 
  • 12.30-13- Manuela Dobre (Université de Bucarest), Art et propagande impériale dans l'iconographie des monnaies byzantines (IVe-VIIe siècles) 
  • 13-13.30-Additional discussions 

13.30-14.30-Lunch Break

Second Session-Objects of the Black Sea. Points of Convergence and Otherness.

Chair: Carol Căpiță (University of Bucharest)

  • 14.30-15-Velichka Martinova (Regional Museum of History – Stara Zagora, Bulgaria), Empty Tumuli and their Place in Thracian Funeral Rites (VI-V c. BC – III-IV c. AD) 
  • 15-15.30-Gencho Dimitrov(The Historical Museum in Nova Zagora, Bulgaria), A Type of Roman Cup, Used in the Funeral Rites in Thrace 
  • 15.30-16-Nicoleta Petkova (History Museum Strelcha, Bulgaria), Zhaba Mogila near Strelcha – Systematization of the Available Data and New Interpretation of the Archaeological Complex 
  • 16-16.30-Inga Gluszek (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun), The Hellenistic Black-Gloss Campana Pottery from Histria-Preliminary Study 

16.30-17- Break 

Third Session- The Word and the Object in a Greek Literary Universe

Chair: Alexandra Lițu (University of Bucharest; CEREFREA)

  • 17-17.30-Vasiliki Kousoulini (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), Ships and Female Choreia in Euripides’ Plays 
  • 17.30-18-Daniela Immacolata Cagnazzo (Università di Bari), Oggetti in scena: un esempio in Eschilo 
  • 18-18.30-Emiliano J. Buis (University of Buenos Aires), Tangible Transactions: Foreign Goods, Dramatic Commodities and the Market of Comedy in Aristophanes’ Acharnians 
  • 18.30-19-Maria Combatti (Columbia University), Κόσμος (“Finery”) and Ὑφάσματα (“Shrouds”): Entanglements of Women’s and Objects’ Agencies in Euripides’ Alcestis and Helen 
  • 19-19.30-Brian McPhee (Indiana University Bloomington), Medea’s Promethean Drug and Other Significant Objects in Apollonius’ Argonautica 

Objets en dialogue. Approches théoriques.    

  • 19.30-20-Vladimir Creţulescu (Université de Bucarest), Utiliser l’analyse de discours dans les études de culture matérielle 
  • 20.-20.30-Mihaela Pop (Université de Bucarest), Objets et mentalités. Approche comparative entre le Moyen Âge et le XXe siècle ? 

20.30-20.45-Concluding Remarks


  • Bucharest, Romania


  • Friday, November 27, 2020
  • Saturday, November 28, 2020
  • Sunday, November 29, 2020


  • material culture, Antiquity, Middle Ages, objects, literature, archaeology, iconography


  • Alexandra Litu
    courriel : alexandra [dot] litu [at] istorie [dot] unibuc [dot] ro

Information source

  • Alexandra Litu
    courriel : alexandra [dot] litu [at] istorie [dot] unibuc [dot] ro


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Communicating Objects. Material, Literary and Iconographic Instances of Objects in a Human Universe in Antiquity and the Middle Ages », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Friday, November 27, 2020, https://doi.org/10.58079/15nn

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