Caspar Meyer (Bard College) on ancient lithic technologies
At the next meeting of the Classics seminar Professor Caspar Meyer (Bard Graduate Center) will speak on "Making and meaning: early Attic stelai as lithic technology." The event will take place on zoom. The link will be sent out to Classics seminar list subscribers.
Photo credit: Caspar Meyer
Stelai are usually studied in disconnected disciplinary categories according to the content of the texts and images they bear. Art historians tend to focus on gravestones, votive reliefs and documentary stelai that feature images; political historians concentrate on decrees, honorific commemorations and lists of payments or inventories; and literary historians naturally prefer epigrams and dedications composed in verse. In his talk, Professor Meyer will cut across these traditional genres and types to understand how stelai in late Archaic Athens came to present varying ontological conditions for perceiving incisions as textual or pictorial marks. The discussion will draw on technological analyses and experimental reconstruction of ancient carving techniques to bring out how planar surfaces and incised marks constituted each other and their perception. The aim of exploring stelai from the point of view of their makers is to show that the knowledge invested in making artefacts is a key aspect of understanding their meaning and context. The presented material is part of a broader project which seeks to recover the far-reaching ramifications of technological skill in ancient society, from the level of individual gestures and intentions all the way to the social and ecological impact of procuring raw materials.
Caspar Meyer is Professor at Bard Graduate Center in New York City, author of Greco- Scythian art and the birth of Eurasia: from Classical antiquity to Russian modernity (Oxford UP, 2013) and many articles on Greek art and its reception, as well as editor of West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture.