Department of Art and Art History Calendar

Art History Lecture Series presents Lauren Petersen

roman slaves

Roman Slaves on the Move in Pompeii

What can we know about the movements and activities of Roman slaves in the streets of the ancient city of Pompeii?  In this lecture, Professor Petersen specifically attempts to intervene in scholarly debates on the archaeology of Roman slavery. Rather than regarding slaves as irretrievable in the archaeological remains of cities, as scholars so often claim, she proposes innovative ways for reconstructing the lives of slaves by looking anew at the archaeological record. Interweaving literature, law, and material evidence, Dr. Petersen develops approaches to seeing slaves in streets—making them visible where other evidence tells us they were present.

Lauren Hackworth Petersen, associate professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Delaware, specializes in ancient Roman art and architecture. She has also done extensive research in Greek and Etruscan art and assisted with the excavations at the Etruscan/Roman habitation site at Cetamura del Chianti, Italy. Professor Petersen is a recipient of numerous awards, including an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship, a Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome, and a Fulbright Grant. Her recent book, Mothering and Motherhood in Ancient Greece and Rome (a co-edited project with Patricia Salzman-Mitchell, University of Texas Press, 2012), provides an interdisciplinary examination of the potentially charged roles of motherhood in ancient daily life, politics, art and architecture, and rhetoric. Her other book, The Freedman in Roman Art and Art History was published by Cambridge University Press in 2006 (paperback edition in 2011). This study vigorously challenges elite models that have dominated our understanding of non-elite Roman monuments and offers interpretations of artistic commissions by former slaves through a variety of approaches.