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Becoming persons, becoming ancestors: personhood, memory and the corpse in Roman rituals of social remembrance

Graham, Emma-Jayne (2009). Becoming persons, becoming ancestors: personhood, memory and the corpse in Roman rituals of social remembrance. Archaeological Dialogues, 16(1) pp. 51–74.

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This article examines the role of social memory and the treatment of the corpse within the reconfiguration of personhood in the Roman world. Exploring the significance of ‘remembering and forgetting’, it emphasizes the importance of memory and the body as a context for the manipulation of post-mortem personhood and identity. An extraordinarily rich collection of archaeological and epigraphic evidence associated with the Augustan-period senator Marcus Nonius Balbus provides an almost unparalleled context in which to explore the significance of these observations. This particular example from Herculaneum demonstrates that the realignment of relationships during mortuary activities could produce a new sense of personhood for both the deceased and mourners that was constructed in the context of communal remembrance. Subsequent commemorative activities, focused on the material manifestation of these relationships and the ‘dividuality’ of the dead within the urban fabric, may consequently have acted to promote a new civic ancestor for the community of Herculaneum.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2009 Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 1478-2294
Keywords: personhood; memory; body; os resectum; Herculaneum; identity
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Cultures
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 34317
Depositing User: Emma-Jayne Graham
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2012 14:59
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2016 15:27
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