About this Event
Rebecca Flemming, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Cambridge will speak on the topic of Anatomy as Religion: The Body in Ancient Italian Votive Practice, akin to our milagros in form and function. Tens of thousands of votive objects, mostly in terracotta, survive from religious sanctuaries across Republican central Italy (from the fourth to the first centuries BC). Many are in the shape of body parts, external and internal, single and multiple, even displayed within a whole human torso or figure, and they are usually interpreted as representing engagements with the divine about health and healing, broadly construed. They offer key insights into both religion in early Italy and ideas about the human body. This lecture first offers an overview of the extant material and the cult practice, the address and thanks to the gods, that these artifacts embody, summarizing both recent finds and new scholarship on the phenomenon of the anatomical ex-voto. The focus then turns to the ‘polyviscera’, the objects which depict multiple organs, in a range of presentational styles, and to the meanings they might have, both in terms of the ways the human body was understood in antiquity, and the ways divinities might be invited to intervene in it.
Flemming is one of this year's Martha Sharp Joukowsky Lecturers.
Flemming is Senior Lecturer in Ancient History in the Classics Faculty at the University of Cambridge, and a member of Jesus College. She holds her degrees from University College London (Ph.D.) and Trinity College Cambridge, and her research interests include the social and cultural history of the Roman Empire, ancient medicine and the history of disease, women and gender issues in the ancient and modern worlds, and Roman religion. Her recent publications include Medicine and Markets: Essays on Ancient Medicine in Honour of Vivian Nutton, (ed. with Laurence Totelin, Classical Press of Wales, 2020) and Reproduction: Antiquity to the Present Day, (ed. with Nick Hopwood and Lauren Kassell (Cambridge University Press, 2018). Flemming is an AIA Joukowsky Lecturer for 2020/2021.