The Roman emperors and their public image in the north-western frontier regions of the Roman Empire. An archaeological and historical study into visual culture
09 / 2011 - unknown
The research project focuses on the ways in which the power and authority of the Roman emperors were being used and visualized through the use of monuments and architecture in the peripheral, but highly militarized Northwestern border provinces of the Roman Empire. The diffusion of ideological statements of power and hierarchy through the use of visual images and inscriptions became normal practice in the Roman Empire, either from above by the emperors themselves or from below through the native elites and Roman soldiers in the provinces. The emperor personified the Roman state, and he became the symbol of unity and loyalty throughout the whole Imperium Romanum. Or so it was assumed until recently. The relative lack of evidence of urbanization and urban culture in the Northwestern provinces, compared to the Mediterranean region, is now often stated as a result of the geographical and mental distance between Rome and the northern periphery of the empire. This implies a considerable lack in romanization of these areas. It can be argued, however, that by the fact that Rome did not bother itself that intensively with its provinces, the provincial societies and their visual culture need to be interpreted on their own merits. This study of imperial presence and visibility through the study of specific archaeological and literary sources, mainly (the remains of) statues and milestones and their social and architectural contexts, is intended to address questions concerning the importance of the imperial image in context of the empire s (northern) frontiers and its place within the visual culture of military and civilian societies in these peripheral areas of the Roman Empire.