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Decorated Vessels: The Function Of Decoration In Late Antiquity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter re-integrates decoration with the function of the object and its social context in Late Antiquity. It examines the way that decoration prescribes the function of objects, for example, through the representation upon an object of the activity for which the object is intended to be used. It is suggested that in some instances decoration may also be matched to the interior decor of a room, that is, to the context within which an object was used. These correlations of decoration with function and context correspond to Roman ideas of ?appropriateness? in decor and, in turn, contribute to the structuring of social identities and social relations in Late Antiquity. Following trends in the earlier Roman period, in late silver plate, pottery and glass a connection between decoration and intended function can often be identified. Decoration on vessels forms a series of elaborate social codes relating to their practical use.

Keywords: decoration; Late Antiquity; Roman period; social context

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