Two joining sculpture fragments Images of Empire: Flavian Fragments in Rome and Ann Arbor Rejoined

The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma


Museum hallway


Images of Empire: Flavian Fragments in Rome and Ann Arbor Rejoined tells an intriguing story of archaeological detection that led to the identification of fragments of sculpture from a lost Roman imperial monument, the Templum Gentis Flaviae (the Temple of the Flavian Clan). This sanctuary of the Flavian family served as a temple and tomb for the three emperors of Rome's second imperial dynasty (AD 69-96), Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. It was built in the early AD 90s by the last Flavian emperor, Domitian. Based on fragments of marble sculptures in the collections of the Kelsey Museum and the Museo Nazionale Romano in Rome, the exhibition presents a hypothetical reconstruction of two parts of this still-elusive Roman structure.

The exhibition contains three full-scale models of parts of the dynastic complex decorated by the marble fragments. One frieze reconstructs part of the precinct wall that enclosed an altar. The other two restored friezes depict a sacrificial procession, and Vespasian's return to Rome. The exhibition consists of six ancient marbles belonging to the Kelsey Museum and casts of nine marbles belonging to the Museo Nazionale Romano. The casts were made by professional conservators in Rome using a technique that allowed experts to produce replicas so faithful to the originals that it is nearly impossible for the naked eye to distinguish between original and copy. In this exhibition you will see not only the ancient Roman sculptures but also the hypothetical reconstruction of the ancient Roman complex developed by Dr. Rita Paris of the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome.

The fragments were first displayed in Rome in 1994 at the Museum Nazionale Romano, in an exhibition curated by Dr. Rita Paris entitled Dono Hartwig. Originali ricongiunti e copie tra Roma e Ann Arbor. Ipotesi per il Templum Gentis Flaviae, with an accompanying catalogue in Italian. A second exhibition followed in 1996 at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Curated by Dr. Elaine Gazda under the title Images of Empire: Flavian Fragments in Rome and Ann Arbor Rejoined, the American exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue in English, which documents when, where, how, and by whom the fifteen sculptural fragments were found, why scholars believe the fragments come from the same architectural monument, and what that monument's purpose was. This website serves as a record of the exhibition as presented at the Kelsey Museum in 1996.

Copyright ©1997, 2002 Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali, Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

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