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Africans in the Visual Imagination of the Roman Empire

An archaeologist and art historian will discuss "visual culture" and ethnic difference in the Roman empire, and how black Africans’ roles and status were communicated.

Dr. Sinclair Bell, associate professor of art history at Northern Illinois University, will speak on “Beyond Black vs. White: Africans in the Visual Imagination of the Roman Empire.” His talk is part of a yearly series by the Archaeological Institute of America.

The representation of foreign cultures with manifest “racial” differences, such as unfamiliar physical traits or strange-seeming ethnic customs, has been a longstanding subject for artistic expression. The visual and material culture of the Roman Empire provides an abundant record of such cultural encounters.

Dr. Bell has excavated Etruscan and Roman sites in Italy and Tunisia and interned in museums in Germany and Greece. He studied classical archaeology at the University of Oxford, the University of Cologne, and the University of Edinburgh, where he received his Ph.D. in classics in 2004.


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