Domesticating Empire: Egyptian Landscapes in Pompeian Gardens

ISBN : 9780190641351

Caitin Eilis Barrett
416 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Apr 2019
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Domesticating Empire is the first contextually-oriented monograph on Egyptian imagery in Roman households. Caitlin Barrett draws on case studies from Flavian Pompeii to investigate the close association between representations of Egypt and a particular type of Roman household space: the domestic garden. Through paintings and mosaics portraying the Nile, canals that turned the garden itself into a miniature "Nilescape," and statuary depicting Egyptian themes, many gardens in Pompeii offered ancient visitors evocations of a Roman vision of Egypt. Simultaneously faraway and familiar, these imagined landscapes made the unfathomable breadth of empire compatible with the familiarity of home. In contrast to older interpretations that connect Roman "Aegyptiaca" to the worship of Egyptian gods or the problematic concept of "Egyptomania," a contextual analysis of these garden assemblages suggests new possibilities for meaning. In Pompeian houses, Egyptian and Egyptian-looking objects and images interacted with their settings to construct complex entanglements of "foreign" and "familiar," "self" and "other." Representations of Egyptian landscapes in domestic gardens enabled individuals to present themselves as sophisticated citizens of empire. Yet at the same time, household material culture also exerted an agency of its own: domesticizing, familiarizing, and "Romanizing" once-foreign images and objects. That which was once imagined as alien and potentially dangerous was now part of the domus itself, increasingly incorporated into cultural constructions of what it meant to be "Roman." Featuring brilliant illustrations in both color and black and white, Domesticating Empire reveals the importance of material culture in transforming household space into a microcosm of empire.


Chapter 1: Introduction: Egypt in the Garden
Chapter 2: Imagining the Nile: Affordances and Contexts
Chapter 3: From Egypt to Oikoumene: Interactive Landscapes in the Casa dell'Efebo
Chapter 4: Self, Other, and Beyond in the Casa del Medico
Chapter 5: Making Meaning on the Margins: Nilotic Marginalia in the Casa del Fauno
Chapter 6: Model Worlds: Three-Dimensional Nilotica in the Casa di Acceptus e Euhodia
Chapter 7: Conclusions: Egyptian Landscapes in Context

About the author: 

Caitlin Eilis Barrett is Associate Professor of Classics at Cornell University.

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