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FA-251491-17
Object Memory: Souvenirs, Memorabilia, and the Construction of Knowledge in the Roman Empire
Maggie Popkin, Case Western Reserve University

Grant details: https://apps.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FA-251491-17

Architecture in Miniature: Souvenirs and Memory in Ancient Rome (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Architecture in Miniature: Souvenirs and Memory in Ancient Rome
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Abstract: Architecture in the Roman Empire was essential for generating and shaping collective memories of cities, events, and people. But how does stationary architecture—and the complex messages it conveys—translate into a collective memory shared across space? I investigate how buildings could project desired images of cities and regions, establishing a collective memory of those sites—for example, of Puteoli as a city uniquely favored by Rome’s emperors. I demonstrate how souvenir representations of architecture enabled this projected image to become collective memory not only locally but also around the empire. Finally, I argue that souvenirs of structures illuminate Roman notions of architecture and urban space. My approach draws on close visual and archaeological analysis and on neuro-cognitive studies of how visual imagery shapes memory. I also consider the cognitive science of how conversation and social interactions—precisely what the Roman souvenirs were designed to prompt—generate shared memories. Ultimately, to understand fully how architecture created memory and knowledge in an era before mechanical reproduction and digital technologies, we must look closely at buildings and their portable representations in tandem.
Date: 04/19/2018
Conference Name: Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting

Architecture in Miniature: Souvenirs and Memory in Ancient Rome (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Architecture in Miniature: Souvenirs and Memory in Ancient Rome
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Abstract: Architecture in the Roman Empire was essential for generating and shaping collective memories of cities, events, and people. But how does stationary architecture—and the complex messages it conveys—translate into a collective memory shared across space? I investigate how buildings could project desired images of cities and regions, establishing a collective memory of those sites—for example, of Puteoli as a city uniquely favored by Rome’s emperors. I demonstrate how souvenir representations of architecture enabled this projected image to become collective memory not only locally but also around the empire. Finally, I argue that souvenirs of structures illuminate Roman notions of architecture and urban space that are lost when scholars focus solely on texts such as Ptolemy’s Geography: namely, a landmark-oriented, panegyric spatial conception that encouraged outstanding examples of architecture, such as Alexandria’s Pharos, to predominate in people’s narratives and memories of places. Ultimately, to understand fully how architecture created memory and knowledge in an era before mechanical reproduction and digital technologies, we must look closely at buildings and their portable representations in tandem.
Date: 04/19/2018
Conference Name: Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting

Religious Souvenirs in and between the Cities of the Roman Empire (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Religious Souvenirs in and between the Cities of the Roman Empire
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Abstract: Ancient Romans had a rich if underappreciated tradition of souvenirs associated with religious experience. This paper examines two categories of religious souvenirs that transcended the boundaries of sanctuaries. The first category I term prospective souvenirs: objects commissioned for use before a visit to a sanctuary and then deposited there as votives. The second I call retrospective souvenirs: mementoes purchased during a visit to a sanctuary and then brought home for display. Both prospective and retrospective religious souvenirs generated narratives of religious experience that transcended the temporal limitations of visits to sanctuaries and that became integrated into daily life, on roads or in cities. Cognitive research about prospective memory, collaborative remembering, and semantic memory illuminates the agency of souvenirs to shape collective memories and knowledge of religious sites and rituals. Religious souvenirs are, therefore, critical to understanding how religious experience and sites were materialized, remembered, and conceptualized in cities and on roads far removed from classical sanctuaries.
Date: 11/20/2017
Conference Name: Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting

Object Memory: Souvenirs and Memorabilia in the Roman Empire (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Object Memory: Souvenirs and Memorabilia in the Roman Empire
Abstract: The Roman Empire produced a rich range of souvenirs and memorabilia commemorating cities, monuments, sporting and theatrical events, and religious rituals. At a time when literacy was limited and visual communication was essential, these objects were a critical means for generating and mediating memory and knowledge of their represented subjects. This talk examines various examples of Roman souvenirs and memorabilia, including glass flasks engraved with scenes of tourist destinations, miniature replicas of famous cult statues, and drinking cups with pictures of famous gladiators and charioteers. The lecture explores how these objects constructed knowledge in an era before mechanical and digital reproduction. When considered in their historical, social, and archaeological contexts, souvenirs and memorabilia shed fascinating light on how objects and images helped ancient Romans conceptualize their world.
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Date: 04/24/2018
Location: Toronto

Spectacular Souvenirs: Sports Memorabilia in the Roman Empire (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Spectacular Souvenirs: Sports Memorabilia in the Roman Empire
Abstract: When we think of the Roman Empire, gladiators and charioteers come immediately to mind. This talk examines a fascinating but often overlooked category of objects related to these quintessential Roman spectacles: namely, sports memorabilia, including drinking vessels, lamps, and figurines. At a time when literacy was limited and visual communication was essential, these objects generated knowledge of chariot racing and gladiatorial combat across many Roman provinces, constructed the celebrity of individual charioteers and gladiators, fueled enthusiasm about these sports, and served as complex agents of Roman culture in provinces with diverse populations.
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Date: 02/22/2018
Location: John Carroll University, Ohio

Spectacular Souvenirs: Sports Memorabilia in the Roman Empire (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Spectacular Souvenirs: Sports Memorabilia in the Roman Empire
Abstract: When we think of the Roman Empire, gladiators and charioteers come immediately to mind. This talk examines a fascinating but often overlooked category of objects related to these quintessential Roman spectacles: namely, sports memorabilia, including drinking vessels, lamps, and figurines. At a time when literacy was limited and visual communication was essential, these objects generated knowledge of chariot racing and gladiatorial combat across many Roman provinces, constructed the celebrity of individual charioteers and gladiators, fueled enthusiasm about these sports, and served as complex agents of Roman culture in provinces with diverse populations.
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Date: 01/26/2014
Location: Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio

Urban Images in Glass from the Late Roman Empire: The Souvenir Flasks of Puteoli and Baiae (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Urban Images in Glass from the Late Roman Empire: The Souvenir Flasks of Puteoli and Baiae
Abstract: This talk examines a series of engraved glass flasks manufactured as souvenirs of the Campanian cities of Puteoli and Baiae in the late imperial period. The corpus of flasks has not been reassessed since the 1970s. Since then, archaeological discoveries have offered important new contextual information about the uses of these souvenir flasks. The flasks visually emphasize monuments still standing in late imperial Puteoli and Baiae that connected the cities to Rome and its emperors. Although we cannot be sure of the agents behind the flasks’ design, it is suggested that the cities’ civic leaders and glassworks’ owners might have collaborated. The talk also argues that glass was an ideal material for the Campanian souvenirs, straddling the line between luxury and affordability while also being perceived as characteristic of Puteoli and Baiae. The personal and cultural value of the flasks ultimately derived from a combination of their material , iconography, and status as portable souvenirs, which resulted in a wide range of uses after their purchase, from domestic decorations to votive offerings and grave goods.
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Date: 12/8/2017
Location: Brown University, Rhode Island

Object Memory: Souvenirs and Memorabilia in the Roman Empire (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Object Memory: Souvenirs and Memorabilia in the Roman Empire
Abstract: The Roman Empire produced a rich range of souvenirs and memorabilia commemorating cities, monuments, sporting and theatrical events, and religious rituals. At a time when literacy was limited and visual communication was essential, these objects were a critical means for generating and mediating memory and knowledge of their represented subjects. This talk examines various examples of Roman souvenirs and memorabilia, including glass flasks engraved with scenes of tourist destinations, miniature replicas of famous cult statues, and drinking cups with pictures of famous gladiators and charioteers. It explores how these objects constructed knowledge in an era before mechanical and digital reproduction. Although often overlooked by historians of Roman art, souvenirs and memorabilia shed fascinating light on how objects and images helped ancient Romans conceptualize their world.
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Date: 11/10/2017
Location: Case Western Reserve University, Ohio

Urban Images in Glass from the Late Roman Empire: The Souvenir Flasks of Puteoli and Baiae (Article)
Title: Urban Images in Glass from the Late Roman Empire: The Souvenir Flasks of Puteoli and Baiae
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Abstract: This article examines a series of engraved glass flasks manufactured as souvenirs of the Campanian cities of Puteoli and Baiae in the late imperial period. The corpus of flasks has not been reassessed since the 1970s. Since then, archaeological discoveries have offered important new contextual information about the uses of these souvenir flasks. The flasks visually emphasize monuments still standing in late imperial Puteoli and Baiae that connected the cities to Rome and its emperors. Although we cannot be sure of the agents behind the flasks’ design, it is suggested that the cities’ civic leaders and glassworks’ owners might have collaborated. The article also argues that glass was an ideal material for the Campanian souvenirs, straddling the line between luxury and affordability while also being perceived as characteristic of Puteoli and Baiae. The personal and cultural value of the flasks ultimately derived from a combination of their material , iconography, and status as portable souvenirs, which resulted in a wide range of uses after their purchase, from domestic decorations to votive offerings and grave goods.
Year: 2018
Primary URL: http://www.ajaonline.org
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Publisher: American Journal of Archaeology

Art, Architecture, and False Memory in the Roman Empire: A Cognitive Perspective (Book Section)
Title: Art, Architecture, and False Memory in the Roman Empire: A Cognitive Perspective
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Editor: Peter Meineck
Editor: Willliam Michael Short
Editor: Jennifer Devereaux
Abstract: This chapter examines how art and architecture actively manipulated how ancient Romans remembered and knew their world, sometimes even creating false memories of places, events, and institutions. It focuses on three case studies of objects and monuments from the Roman Empire: a sports souvenir from Roman Britain, travel souvenirs from the Bay of Naples, and the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome. Drawing on cognitive research into how external stimuli, including visual images, distort and falsify memories, the chapter demonstrates how these portable, private objects and monumental, public architecture all generated semantic memory of sites and activities around the Roman Empire. They may even have caused some Romans—and modern historians—to misremember certain historical events, such as the putative triumph in 202 CE of the emperor Septimius Severus. Cognitive theories such as the misinformation effect, the source monitoring framework, and the impact of conversation and collaboration on remembering illuminate how these objects and monuments—with their combinations of image and narrative—could shape semantic memories and create distorted and false memories through repeated viewing and use. Ultimately, the chapter argues that the souvenirs and triumphal arch projected manipulated semantic memories and false memories as a form of cultural and social connectivity, that is, a means of creating a shared cultural or historical narrative that could transcend time and space in the Roman Empire.
Year: 2019
Publisher: Routledge
Book Title: The Routledge Handbook of Classics and Cognitive Theory
ISBN: 9780367732455

The Vicarello Milestone Beakers and Future-Oriented Mental Time Travel in the Roman Empire (Book Section)
Title: The Vicarello Milestone Beakers and Future-Oriented Mental Time Travel in the Roman Empire
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Editor: Maggie L. Popkin
Editor: Diana Y. Ng
Abstract: This chapter considers four silver beakers manufactured in Gades (modern Cádiz, Spain) and ultimately deposited in the sacred springs of Aquae Apollinares (modern Vicarello, Italy). Crafted in the shape of milestones and inscribed with itineraries representing a land route from Gades to Rome, the beakers evoke travel along the network of Roman roads connecting Spain and Italy. Although often considered as souvenirs of Gades, this chapter argues that the milestone beakers shaped people’s future thinking about travel, time, and space, at scales ranging from the granular and personal to the broader and imperial. Examining the milestone beakers through the intertwined lenses of future-oriented mental time travel and embodied cognition illuminates aspects of these remarkable vessels that we otherwise tend to overlook in favor of their impact on retrospective remembering.
Year: 2021
Publisher: Routledge
Book Title: Future Thinking in Roman Culture: New Approaches to History, Memory, and Cognition
ISBN: 9780367687809

Souvenirs and the Experience of Empire in Ancient Rome (Book)
Title: Souvenirs and the Experience of Empire in Ancient Rome
Author: Maggie L. Popkin
Abstract: In this book, Maggie Popkin offers an in-depth investigation of souvenirs, a type of ancient Roman object that has been understudied and is unfamiliar to many people. Souvenirs commemorated places, people, and spectacles in the Roman Empire. Straddling the spheres of religion, spectacle, leisure, and politics, they serve as a unique resource for exploring the experiences, interests, imaginations, and aspirations of a broad range of people – beyond elite, metropolitan men – who lived in the Roman world. Popkin shows how souvenirs generated and shaped memory and knowledge, as well as constructed imagined cultural affinities across the empire’s heterogeneous population. At the same time, souvenirs strengthened local identities, but excluded certain groups from the social participation that souvenirs made available to so many others. Featuring a full illustration program of 137 color and black-and-white images, Popkin’s book demonstrates the critical role that souvenirs played in shaping how Romans perceived and conceptualized their world, and their relationships to the empire that shaped it.
Year: 2022
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9781316517567
Copy sent to NEH?: No


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