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Karen Laurence, U. of I.: “A reinterpretation of the Athenian Calendar Frieze”

Event Type
Department of the Classics, Archaeological Institute of America/Central Illinois Chapter (AIA)
Knight  Auditorium, Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana
Sep 14, 2014   3:00 pm  
Karen Laurence, U. of I.
Free and open to the public.
Originating Calendar
School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics Calendar

The Athenian Calendar Frieze is a record of the Athenian festival year, including representations of the cycle of the zodiac. Dating to the late Hellenistic/early Roman period, the inclusion of the zodiac signs correlates with the significant attention to calendrical calculation that was taking place during the late Republic and the Julio-Claudian eras. At this time, artistic and rhetorical constructions of time reckoning were being utilized to organize time as an ideological tool, creating a facade of stability and continuity in the wake of the Civil Wars that had rocked the eastern Mediterranean.

The festival representations and chronological markers on the Athenian Calendar Frieze provide a case study of the analysis of the iconography of time reckoning in Athens as it came under Roman influence and control.

Furthermore, as Athens and the rest of Greece were subsumed into the Roman Empire, the people of Athens sought to emphasize their cultural relevance, through a revitalization of ancient Athenian cults and an increased interest in the mytho-historic invention of civilization and agriculture that was supposed to have taken place in Athens.

The frieze’s emphasis on particular Athenian rites, especially agricultural festivals, and the prominence given to the autumn, which was the time of sowing grains and harvesting grapes, aligns with this phenomenon.

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