Seminar--Paying Attention: Images of Arches on Ancient Roman Coins.

Francesco de Angelis, Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University

Architectural representations on Roman coins were not “objective” renderings of the appearance of buildings. Instead, they should be understood as a significant witness of the reception of monuments in antiquity. In particular, they give us an idea of how a building was viewed, or was supposed to be viewed, beyond the boundaries of its specific topographical location. The talk will address the methodological implications of this approach by focusing on images of arches. In particular, it will argue that we need to achieve an adequate understanding of the workings of attention in order properly to appreciate the way in which architectural representations on coins functioned in antiquity. At the same time, it will discuss how knowledge about arches traveled throughout the empire, and will show how the numismatic medium affected this knowledge.