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Portrait of Julia Domna (ca. a.d. 170–217), Roman, a.d. 203–17. Marble, 13 3/4 x 10 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (35 x 26.7 x 24.1 cm). Ruth Elizabeth White Fund. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

NEW HAVEN, CONN.– The Roman Empire was vast and diverse, but the inhabitants of even its most far-flung provinces—Britain, Gaul, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia— were all, to some degree, “Roman.” Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire examines the interaction between local traditions and Roman imperial culture through works of art and artifacts reflecting daily life, politics, technology, and religion. The juxtaposition of mosaics, ceramics, sculpture, glass, textiles, coins, and jewelry presents a rich image of life in the Roman provinces. The exhibition features more than 150 objects from across the empire, including works from Yale University’s excavations at Gerasa and Dura-Europos, many of which have rarely or never before been on view. 

The objects on display in the exhibition reveal the multitude of ethnicities, religions, and cultures found within the broad expanse of the Roman Empire. They demonstrate how many groups of people within Rome’s provinces sought to maintain their own local traditions and individuality while also representing themselves as Roman, especially in public contexts and in the sight of the emperor. 

Recent scholarship has shown a previously unrecognized complexity of provincial identities, which evolved over time as the culture and manners of the Roman conquerors fused with local traditions,” explains Lisa R. Brody, Associate Curator of Ancient Art, Yale University Art Gallery, and co-organizer of the exhibition. “This fusion happened quite differently in various corners of the empire and in diverse contexts. For example, inhabitants of a particular province might speak Latin and wear togas in public, especially when the Roman military or emperor came to town, while still worshipping local household gods and dining on traditional foods in the privacy of their homes.” 

As Rome grew, the experiences of its new subjects were likely both positive and negative, generating widely different responses to the conquerors and their language, religion, art, and architecture. Roman in the Provinces steps away from the traditional “Rome-as-center” model of influence and instead seeks to classify the relationship between provincials and their conquerors as one of reciprocity. The peripheries of the Roman Empire were a crossroads of influences; the fusion and combination of cultural elements intensified through networks of trade and transport, religious practices, civic self- representation, and imperial decree. 

With objects drawn from the Gallery’s collection of Roman and Byzantine art, complemented by important loans from the Princeton University Art Museum, the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Roman in the Provinces aims to explore what “being Roman” meant among different groups and across the expanse of the empire. Concepts of identity—and the ways in which provincials asserted those identities—are explored through coinage, household objects, military accoutrements, and religious iconography, with particular focus on the provinces of the Eastern Mediterranean during and after the height of the Imperial era (first to sixth century a.d.). 

People tend to envision the Roman Empire through the imperial portrait busts, toga-clad statues, and Latin tombstones that fill many museums, or through the brick and marble amphitheaters, arches, forums, and baths of famous ancient cities,” says Gail L. Hoffman, Assistant Professor of Classical Studies at Boston College and co-curator of the exhibition. “Yet the range of material culture and languages used by inhabitants in this empire’s huge territorial expanse was much more varied. Archaeologists are only now beginning to explore fully the multicultural nature of its many provinces and to grapple with the numerous identities expressed through the objects that its millions of inhabitants used every day. Roman in the Provinces encourages visitors to expand their view of what it meant to be Roman and, in doing so, to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the accomplishments of this ancient society.” 

African Red Slip Pelike, Tunisia, late 2nd–3rd century A.D. Terracotta. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Rebecca Darlington Stoddard. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Votive Stele to Saturn, Roman, Tunisian, 2nd century A.D. Limestone, 75 x 42 x 10.2 cm (29 1/2 x 16 9/16 x 4 in.). Gift of Ambassador and Mrs. William L. Eagleton, Jr., B.A. 1948. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Glass Cup, Roman, Cologne, ca. 2nd century A.D. Free-blown, very pale green (nearly colorless) glass,  6 x 9.1 cm (2 3/8 x 3 9/16 in.). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Bronze Horse Trapping, Roman, German or Gallo-Roman, 3rd century A.D. Bronze, 11.2 x 8.64 x 0.28 cm (4 7/16 x 3 3/8 x 1/8 in.). Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Nagler. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Two-Handled Jug, Syrian, Dura-Europos, A.D. 200–256. Terracotta, 78.11 x 26.99 x 22.86 cm (30 3/4 x 10 5/8 x 9 in.). Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Jug, Near Eastern, Palestinian, mid 1st Century BC–1st Century AD. Terracotta (Eastern Sigillata A), 19.5 x 16.6 cm (7 11/16 x 6 9/16 in.). The Whiting Palestinian Collection. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Pitcher, Syrian, 1st century AD. Terracotta Eastern Sigillata A), 17 x 9.2 cm (6 11/16 x 3 5/8 in.). The Whiting Palestinian Collection. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Bowl, Syrian, late 1st Century BC–early 1st Century AD. Terracotta (Eastern Sigillata A), 9 x 15 cm (3 9/16 x 5 7/8 in.). The Whiting Palestinian Collection. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Arretine Ware Dish, Near Eastern, Palestinian, mid 1st Century BC–2nd Century AD. Terracotta (Italian Sigillata ware), 3.3 x 17 cm (1 5/16 x 6 11/16 in.). The Whiting Palestinian Collection. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Pelike, Syrian, 1st Century.Terracotta (Eastern Sigillata A), 25.5 x 14 cm (10 1/16 x 5 1/2 in.). The Whiting Palestinian Collection. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Relief Bowl, Roman, 3rd century A.D.. Terracotta (Corinthian relief ware), 4.8 x 7.1 cm (1 7/8 x 2 13/16 in.). Gift of Rebecca Darlington Stoddard. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Bowl, Roman, late 2nd–3rd Century. Brick red clay, dull dark red glaze, slightly worn in spots, 9.2 x 16.8 cm (3 5/8 x 6 5/8 in.). Gift of Rebecca Darlington Stoddard. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Jar or beaker, Roman, Gaul, mid 3rd–early 4th Century. Terracotta, 14 x 9.8 cm (5 1/2 x 3 7/8 in.). Gift of Rebecca Darlington Stoddard. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Bowl without handle, Roman, Gaul, late 1st Century BC–1st Century AD. Terracotta, 4.8 x 9.2 cm (1 7/8 x 3 5/8 in.). Gift of Rebecca Darlington Stoddard. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Wall painting fragment showing female face, Dura-Europos (Syria), A.D. 165-256. Paint on plaster, 20 x 23.5 cm (7 7/8 x 9 1/4 in.). Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Wall painting fragment showing human face, Dura-Europos (Syria), A.D. 165-256. Paint on plaster, 15.5 x 19.5 cm (6 1/8 x 7 11/16 in.). Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Mosaic Floor from south aisle of church of Bishop Paul, i.e. Procopius Church,Gerasa (Jordan), ca. A.D. 526. Mosaic: limestone tesserae, (approximate): 406.401 x 792.482 cm (160 x 312 in.). The Yale-British School Excavations at Gerasa. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Mosaic Floor with inscription, Gerasa (Jordan), ca. A.D. 526. Mosaic: limestone tesserae.Tabula Ansata: 58 x 311 cm (22 13/16 x 122 7/16 in.) without ansae: 265 cm (104 5/16 in.) 100.33 x 340.52 cm (39 1/2 x 134 1/16 in.). The Yale-British School Excavations at Gerasa. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Glass Bottle, Dura-Europos (Syria), A.D. 165-256. Glass, 23.1 x 19 cm (9 1/8 x 7 1/2 in.). Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Vase, Roman, Gaulish, 2nd-3rd century A.D. Glass, 6.668 x 2.54 cm (2 5/8 x 1 in.). Gift of E. Francis Riggs, B.A. 1909, and T. Lawrason Riggs, B.A. 1910. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Candlestick unguentarium, Roman, Gaulish, 2nd-3rd century A.D. Pale green glass, 10.1 x 3.2 cm (4 x 1 1/4 in.). Gift of E. Francis Riggs, B.A. 1909, and T. Lawrason Riggs, B.A. 1910. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Tumbler or Goblet, Roman, Eastern Mediterranean, 5th century A.D.(?). Glass, 11.8 x 7.6 cm (4 5/8 x 3 in.). The Anna Rosalie Mansfield Collection. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Double head flask, Roman, Eastern Mediterranean (Syrian?), 3rd century A.D. Glass, 8.8 x 4.2 x 4.3 cm (3 7/16 x 1 5/8 x 1 11/16 in.). The Anna Rosalie Mansfield Collection. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Carinated Millefiori Bowl, Roman, Eastern Mediterranean or Egyptian(?), 1st century A.D. Glass, 4.5 x 10 cm (1 3/4 x 3 15/16 in.). The Anna Rosalie Mansfield Collection. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Agate Glass Bottle, Roman, Eastern Mediterranean, 1st century A.D. Opaque brown glass,  9.1 cm (3 9/16 in.). The Anna Rosalie Mansfield Collection. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Relief, Funeral Banquet, Palmyra, ca. 200-250 A.D., Limestone. Overall: 52.705 x 56.198 x 8.9 cm (20 3/4 x 22 1/8 x 3 1/2 in.). Purchased for the University by Prof. Rostovtzeff. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Openwork baldric fastener, Dura-Europos (Syria), AD 165-256. Copper alloy, 1 x 5.4 cm (3/8 x 2 1/8 in.). Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Funeral stele of a woman, Palmyra, ca. A.D. 125-150. Limestone. H. 54.5 cm; W. 44.0 cm; D. 18.0 cm. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. Edgar Munroe. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Molded head-flask, Roman, Tunisian, 3rd-4th century A.D. Terracotta, 19cm (7 1/2in.). Gift of Ambassador and Mrs. William L. Eagleton, Jr., B.A. 1948. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Fragment of a statue of Herakles, Roman, Tunisian, 1st-3rd century A.D. Marble. 29 cm (11 7/16 in.). Gift of Ambasador and Mrs. William L. Eagleton, Jr., B.A. 1948. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Handle base from a situla, Roman or Gallo-Roman, 1st – 3rd century A.D. Bronze, solid cast. 7.8 x 5.6 x 0.4 cm. (3 1/16 x 2 3/16 x 3/16 in.). Gift of Ruth Elizabeth White. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Corinthian Column Capital, Eastern Mediterranean, 2nd–3rd century a.d. Marble, 10 9/16 x 9 13/16 x 7 1/2 in. (26.8 x 25 x 19 cm). Gift of Ruth Elizabeth White. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Corinthian Column Capital, Roman, 2nd-3rd century A.D. Marble, 25.5 x 26 x 18.5 cm. (10 1/16 x 10 1/4 x 7 5/16 in.). Gift of Ruth Elizabeth White. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Faucet or Spigot in the Form of a Bearded Male Head, Roman (Gallo-Roman), ca. 2nd century A.D. Bronze, hollow cast and solid cast in several pieces, 5.5 x 5.5 x 3.8 cm. (2 3/16 x 2 3/16 x 1 1/2 in.). Gift of Ruth Elizabeth White. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Wide-Mouthed Jar, Gerasa (Jordan), Probably 5th century A.D., Pale greenish glass, 6.5 x 6 cm (2 9/16 x 2 3/8 in.). The Yale-British School Excavations at Gerasa. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Long-Necked Vase, Gerasa (Jordan), 4th-5th century A.D., Pale bluish glass, 5.8 x 4.5 cm (2 5/16 x 1 3/4 in.) Diameter of Mouth: 2.1 cm (13/16 in.). The Yale-British School Excavations at Gerasa. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Candlestick Unguentarium, Gerasa (Jordan). 4th-5th Century A.D. Pale greenish glass, 11.8 x 4.3 cm (4 5/8 x 1 11/16 in.). The Yale-British School Excavations at Gerasa. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Candlestick Unguentarium, Gerasa (Jordan). 4th-5th century A.D., White glass. H. 10 cm (3 15/16in.); Diam. 3.8 cm. The Yale-British School Excavations at Gerasa. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Female figurine, Gerasa (Jordan), Roman. Terracotta, 29.21 x 6.91 x 5.05 cm (11 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 2 in.). The Yale-British School Excavations at Gerasa. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Ribbed bowl, Roman, Northern Italian or Yugoslavian,  (Late?) 1st century A.D., Opaque white glass, 5.5 x 7.3 cm (2 3/16 x 2 7/8 in.). Hobart and Edward Small Moore Memorial Collection, Bequest of Mrs. William H. Moore. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Seasons Beaker, Eastern Mediterranean, Roman, 1st century A.D. Yellow glass; mold-blown, 19 x 9.4 cm (7 1/2 x 3 11/16 in.) Diameter of foot: 6 cm (2 3/8 in.). Hobart and Edward Small Moore Memorial Collection, Bequest of Mrs. William H. Moore. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Man with Cloak and Tall Hat (genius cucullatus), Roman, ca. 2nd century A.D. Bronze with red copper inlay,. Object: 12 x 3.5 x 1.5cm (4 3/4 x 1 3/8 x 9/16in.). Gift of Thomas T. Solley, B.A. 1950. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Glass bead necklace, Egyptian, 1st century A.D. Glass, 17 inches. Gift of David Dows, Ph.D. 1908, through Ludlow Bull. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Blue glass bead necklace, Egyptian, 1st century A.D. Glass, 20 inches. Gift of David Dows, Ph.D. 1908, through Ludlow Bull. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Square, Egyptian, ca. 5th Century A.D., unknown fabric, 22 x 23.5 cm (8 11/16 x 9 1/4 in.). Gift of the Olsen Foundation. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Coptic textile, Egyptian, ca. 4th Century A.D. Unknown fabric, 20.2 x 21.5 cm (7 15/16 x 8 7/16 in.). Gift of the Olsen Foundation. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery