The moral architecture of villa storage in first century BC Italy
van, Oyen Astrid
Journal of Roman Archaeology
Cambridge University Press
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van, O. A. (2015). The moral architecture of villa storage in first century BC Italy. Journal of Roman Archaeology, 28 97-123. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1047759415002421
In past writings and present analyses alike, the Roman villa features at the centre of moral discourse, from luxuria to parsimonia. During the late Republic, a series of new architectural strategies – diversification of spaces, increased visibility, monumentality – heightened the representational role of villas in Central Italy. This architectural vocabulary also left its marks on storage facilities in the course of the first century BC, reinforcing a moral discourse of conspicuous production. But instead of subsuming the ‘practical’ aspects of storage under a broader ‘representational’ interpretation, analysis of storage facilities also provides a starting point for rethinking ‘morality’ as not merely acting on an ideological plane, but also negotiated and facilitated through material practices. This article discusses how the technologies of storage and the material properties of the products stored – in particular the different propensity to preservation of grain, water, and wine – interacted with the new architectural vocabulary of villa building in the first century BC to shape particular variations on its moral trope: from centralized ownership to fine-grained status differences. Finally, this non-representational approach – thinking through the material practices of storage instead of what it represented – can reconfigure the long fraught relation between the ‘moral’ and the ‘economic’.
This article stems from research supported by a Junior Research Fellowship at Homerton College, Cambridge.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1047759415002421
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/254622