While snow settled around the magisterial courts of Queens’ College on Monday night (2nd February), inside Dr Tiziana D’Angelo treated the Classics society to a sunnier Mediterranean experience, as she addressed the society on Hellenistic funerary rites in Southern Italy. Her paper ‘Silent Mourners: Terracotta Statues and Death Ritual in Ancient Apulia’ focused on a collection of 48 half-life-size terracotta statues from the family tombs in Canosa, and provided suggestions for their function. Dr D’Angelo argued convincingly that the statues were ‘participant actors’ in the funerary rites of the Daunian families.
Ultimately, the Canosan terracottas remain a tantalising enigma in Italian archaeology, but Dr D’Angelo demonstrated with much flair how they can still provide a valid commentary on ritual, social and artistic practice in the Hellenistic period. The paper challenged us to think about the function of art and artefact in context, while keeping social change as a clear back-drop to the discussion. We now eagerly await the sequel paper!
The Queens’ Classics Society will return on Wednesday 18th February at 7:00p.m. in the Fitzpatrick Hall. David Butterfield, Fran Middleton, Stephen Oakley and Tim Whitmarsh will go head to head in a balloon debate entitled ‘The Fire of the Library of Alexandria’.