Making home improvements is a popular pastime, but people may not realize the trend in trendy living goes back to the Romans, and beyond.
On Thursday, January 23rd the History Department hosted the 5th Annual Cyprus Research Fund Talk with special guest Dr. Sarah Lepinski, for a talk titled: "Archaeologies of Decor Interiors in the Roman East."
Dr. Lepinski explored the artistic techniques, materials, and iconographies in the paintings with which the Romans decorated their homes and public buildings. She also discussed how the paintings reflect both long-standing artistic traditions in the eastern Mediterranean and extensive commercial, cultural, and intellectual interchange with other centers throughout the Roman world, looking particularly at ancient Corinth, the capital city of Roman Greece.
"Seeing" archeology is the challenge, and according to Bill Caraher, professor in the History Department, Lepinski is a "rockstar" in the field of archeology. "Prof. Lepinski brings together archaeology with art history and has painstakingly reconstructed the decoration of Roman homes from thousands of tiny fragments of painted plaster. This is a staggering accomplishment that required an understanding of how a building was built, how it was decorated, how it fell down, and how it was excavated. I've met few people who see archaeologically as well as Sarah."
What we think of today as "trends" were going on in Ancient Greece. Just as today, our living spaces reflect something essential about ourselves, a window into our personality, or a reflection of our aspiration. Says Caraher, "Her talk will engage the complex process of how the Romans created these works. Who were these largely anonymous painters, plasterers, and decorators? And, perhaps more importantly, who were the trend setters that dictated to Roman homeowners in Greece how they should decorate their houses?"
The Cyprus Research Fund provides resources to support student and faculty research in Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of North Dakota. The Department of History has conducted annual fieldwork in the Mediterranean with sites in Greece and Cyprus since 2004. Each year an annual lecture is held on campus to promote the Cyprus Research Fund in collaboration with partners across campus. This May the History Department will be conducting a flagship project, the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project. Donations to the Cyprus Research Fund provides research opportunities for students both in the Mediterranean and on campus in Grand Forks through digital media, campus speakers, and collaborative contacts with colleagues around the world.