The Afterlife of Inscriptions: Reusing, Rediscovering, Reinventing, Revitalizing Ancient Inscriptions (BICS Supplement 75)

Author(s): 
Edited by Alison Cooley
Publication date: 
12 December 2000
Number of pages: 
216
ISBN: 
978-0-900587-86-3
Paperback
£45.00
Description: 
With contributions from Tim Benton, Amanda Collins, Alison E. Cooley, Colin Cunningham, Glenys Davies, Wolfgang Hameter, Mark Handley, Jeremy Knight, Onno van Nijf, Graham Oliver and William Stenhouse.

The Afterlife of Inscriptions explores the changing uses of ancient inscriptions from classical to modern times and the ways in which their lives have been prolonged beyond their initial span. It explores the changing uses of ancient inscriptions from classical to modern times and the ways in which their lives have been prolonged beyond their initial span. 

Two chapters explore inscriptions in their ancient settings, assessing the impact of location upon inscribed monuments set up on the Capitol Hill at Rome and in the town of Termessos. Other chapters concentrate upon the afterlife of inscriptions exploring phases in the rediscovery of inscriptions, how they have been treated as building materials, texts, aesthetic objects and media for political messages with modern attitudes ranging from recycling to reverence. The reuse of ancient inscriptions rediscovered in Wales gives way to an appreciation of them as historical sources. A manuscript collection of inscriptions is analysed in terms of a two-phased afterlife providing models for epitaphs and then a florilegium of verse. The attitudes of seventeenth-century antiquarians in categorizing inscriptions progresses from viewing inscriptions purely as texts to an appreciation of them as objects too. By the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries British society valued many different types of inscription for their aesthetic qualities from Attic grave reliefs to Roman ash chests to contemporary architectural inscriptions. 

This book documents the privileging of inscriptions as historical evidence – how this encourages the modification or even creation of ‘ancient’ inscriptions and how inscriptions are manipulated to support a particular interpretation of the past.