Staff employed at University of Copenhagen – University of Copenhagen

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Kristine Bülow Clausen

Kristine Bülow Clausen

Research Assistant

Current research

Project title:

The Flavian Isea in Beneventum and Rome. The appropriation of Egyptian and Egyptianising Art in imperial Beneventum and Rome.

Project description:

This project examines how and why the Flavian emperors, Vespasian (AD 69-79), Titus (AD 79-81) and Domitian (AD 81-96), used and appropriated ‘Egypt’ as part of a continuous ideological quest for legitimacy and acceptance. In order to understand how ‘Egypt’ manifests itself in Flavian ideology and material culture, the thesis re-examines the sculptural layouts of two Flavian sanctuaries dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis located at Beneventum and Rome respectively. By adopting a ‘Graeco-Roman’ approach, emphasising the role of the Graeco-Roman sculptures as well as the ‘dialogue’ between the ‘Egyptian’ and ‘Graeco-Roman’ aspects of the sculptural layouts, the thesis challenges the traditional view of the Isea as exclusively ‘Egyptian’ and argues instead for an alternative understanding of the sculptural decoration and ideological importance of the two sanctuaries.

In order to understand the possible reasons why the Flavians used ‘Egypt’ as an integral part of their ideology, the project adopts a dialectical ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ perspective, reflecting contemporary political issues of ‘continuity’ (with the Julio-Claudian dynasty) and ‘change’ (legitimising the new Flavian dynasty). Thus, instead of seeing the Flavian sanctuaries and the Egyptian and egyptianising sculptures as something ‘exotic’ and ‘apart’, the thesis argues for a ‘contextual approach’, in which ‘Egypt’ formed part of a broader political-ideological discourse of legitimacy and acceptance. This discourse was closely linked, in particular, to a series of miraculous events taking place at Alexandria in AD 69-70 after Vespasian’s proclamation as emperor as well as to the Flavian triumph over Judaea in AD 71. 

About the project:

Supervisors: Lektor, mag.art. Annette Rathje og Lektor, dr.phil. Jane Fejfer, University of Copenhagen, The SAXO-Institute, Classical Archaeology.
Funding: Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen.
Project duration: 1/9 2008-21/3 2012.
Research School: Dansk Arkæologisk Forskerskole.

ID: 6458877