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ATTITUDES TO SPOLIA IN SOME LATE ANTIQUE TEXTS

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image of Late Antique Archaeology

Current art historical and archaeological studies of spolia tend to assign willed, conceptual motives to the re-use of architectural and sculptural material in late antique building. But such ‘motives’—usually said to be of the propagandistic, ‘auto-legitimisation’ type—do not differ from those of past patrons, who built only with new-made materials; they can therefore in no way explain why builders started to use spolia as opposed to new materials. This paper highlights textual evidence (John of Ephesus, al-Tabari, Minucius Felix, Socrates Scholasticus, Cassiodorus) that suggests conceptual motives for using spolia which could not have been expressed with new material. Such motives include triumphalism, religious appropriation, and aesthetic conservatism. But the texts also display as multifarious a range of viewpoints regarding the spolia phenomenon as do the varying currents of modern scholarship.

10.1163/22134522-90000014
/content/journals/10.1163/22134522-90000014
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/content/journals/10.1163/22134522-90000014
2003-01-01
2016-12-03

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