Research Seminars 2021 (January – March), Thursdays at 17.00 on Zoom

To receive the link with which you can access our virtual seminar room every week, please register at:


15 April, 17.00, on zoom (in Swedish)

Cecilia Schwartz (Dept. of Romance Studies and Classics, Stockholm University): “Ett eget Rom. Kulturförmedlande kvinnor mellan Sverige och Italien under 1900-talet”

Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Madame de Staël som CorinneMånga kulturförmedlare mellan Sverige och Italien var kvinnor som tillbringade en stor del av sina liv i Rom. I syfte att belysa en del av vår transnationella (litteratur)historia, utgår detta projektet från tre kulturförmedlare – Ellen Lundberg-Nyblom, Gunhild Bergh och Martha Larsson – som alla representerar varsin period av 1900-talet.

Kulturförmedlare är ofta mångsysslare med en undanskymd position på det kulturella fältet, vilket gör deras insatser relativt svåra att rekonstruera. Jag kommer under seminariet att redogöra för min pågående materialinsamling och kartläggning av Lundberg-Nyblom, Bergh och Larsson. Därefter kommer jag visa hur materialet kan struktureras med utgångspunkt i Roi Sanz & Meylaerts (2018) analysmodell i fyra steg som beakta litteraturförmedlare ur följande aspekter: 1) socio-biografisk bakgrund; 2) nätverk; 3) översättningspraktiker/diskursiva praktiker; 4) icke-diskursiva praktiker.

Till dessa aspekter vill jag lägga platsens betydelse för kulturförmedling. Att Rom är en stad som under århundraden lockat svenska konstnärer och författare är ett välkänt faktum (jfr Lewan 1987; Blennow & Fogelberg Rota 2016; Smedberg Bondesson 2018). Mindre uppmärksammad är Rom som en fristad för kvinnor med intellektuella och konstnärliga ambitioner under 1900-talet (jfr Caine 2003). I min forskning hämtar jag bland annat inspiration från tankegångar om det så kallade ”Corinne-komplexet” (Campbell Orr 1995) och om Rom som en plats där kvinnor kunde förverkliga sina drömmar (Sluga 2003).

ecilia Schwartz är docent i italienska vid Stockholms universitet. Hon forskar om italiensk litteratur i Sverige med fokus på översättning, förmedling, cirkulation och reception. Hon medverkar i det nationella RJ-programmet ”Cosmopolitan and vernacular dynamics in world literatures” (2016-21) och är under våren 2021 gästforskare vid Svenska Institutet i Rom (Riksbankens Jubileumsfonds Gästforskarvistelser vid de svenska Medelhavsinstituten).



22/04   Serena Sabatini (Dept. of Historical Studies, Gothenburg University): “Vulci and the ‘Understanding Urban Identities’ Project”


06/05   Olof Brandt (Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana): “Opus listatum och andra missfoster. Sådant som Vitruvius aldrig skulle ha sagt eller ens tänkt” (Seminar in Swedish)


13/05   Student seminar: Michael Bratell & Niklas Kärrman (Göteborgs Universitet): Simeto projektet på östra Sicilien – En oidentifierad antik bosättning i periferin?”  (Seminar in Swedish)


20/05   Marina Prusac-Lindhagen (Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo) & Hedvig von Ehrenheim (Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University) present their recently published conference volume Reading Roman Emotions. Visual and Textual Interpretations (Acta of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome 4o, 64, 2020)



Earlier Seminars 2021


8 April 2021, 17.00, on zoom

Tuomo Nuorluoto (Dept. of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University):  “What’s in a (female) Name? Choosing Women’s Cognomina in Ancient Rome”

Roman fresco Villa dei Misteri Pompeii 004In my doctoral thesis with the title Roman Female Cognomina: Studies in the Nomenclature of Roman Women (Uppsala, 2021), I investigated the cognomina used by Roman women. The cognomen was the latest component to be introduced into the Roman name system and also the last of it to survive in the nomenclature of most Romans from Late Antiquity onwards. The cognomen started to appear in the nomenclature of Roman women already in the late republican period, but until the first century CE, it remained largely optional. By the mid-first century, however, most Romans already bore a cognomen.

Once the cognomen had consolidated its position, it became the primary individual name of Roman men and women. For women, who normally did not bear any first names (praenomina), this process was significant, since they now obtained a genuine individual identity in the public eye. Furthermore, as the number of cognomina grew, so did the options for choosing one. It is the purpose of my talk to discuss this aspect more thoroughly, namely the choice of female cognomina during the Empire, when the cognomen had already become a standard item in the nomenclature of Roman women. What kinds of cognomina did Roman women have? How were these names chosen and for what reasons? And how does all this compare to the onomastic practices concerning Roman men?

Tuomo Nuorluoto (PhD, Uppsala University, 2021) is a classical philologist from Uppsala University and Lerici Fellow at the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome, 2020/21. The present talk is based on his doctoral thesis with the title Roman Female Cognomina: Studies in the Nomenclature of Roman Women (Uppsala, 2021).


25 March 2021, 17.00, on zoom

Anna Bortolozzi on her latest book: Italian Architectural Drawings from the Cronstedt Collection, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm  (Hatje Cantz, 2020)

Italian Architectural Drawings from the Cronstedt Collection, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (Hatje Cantz, 2020)This catalogue presents the first comprehensive study of the Italian architectural drawings in the Cronstedt Collection in the Nationalmuseum Stockholm, discussing 181 drawings dating from c. 1570 to c. 1620. Among them are works by Francesco da Volterra, Carlo Maderno, and other Roman architects, executed for churches, chapels, palaces, gardens, and fountains—many constituting primary and almost unknown sources for late Mannerist and early Baroque architecture. Also included are plans and architectural details by French draughtsmen, meticulously documenting ancient monuments, as well as buildings by the Renaissance masters Bramante, Antonio da Sangallo, Michelangelo, and Vignola. Italian Architectural Drawings proposes new attributions in the light of recent scholarship, based on close examination of the drawings’ material (paper, medium, technique, mounting). Comparative illustrations and a photographic catalogue of the watermarks complete the volume.

Anna Bortolozzi is Associate Professor of Art History at Stockholm University. She is a specialist in Baroque architecture, with a particular interest in the relationships between architecture and cultural identity, the shape and use of sacred space in the Counter Reformation, architectural drawings and architectural knowledge in Early Modern Europe. 

18 March 2021, 17.00, on zoom

Johan Eriksson on his latest book The Condottiere Prince – A Visual Rhetoric Leonello d’Este, Sigismondo Malatesta, Alessandro Sforza, Federico da Montefeltro

(Editorial Committee of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome, 2020)


ErikssonThe aim of this study is to display the role of the patrons in the commissions of Italian Renaissance art and architecture, but also to describe their usage of art and architecture for visual communication. For this purpose, four condottiere princes from the 15th century have been chosen to exemplify these phenomena. By reconstructing and comparing commissions and artefacts from the courts of Leonello d'Este in Ferrara, Sigismondo Malatesta in Rimini, Alessandro Sforza in Pesaro and Federico da Montefeltro in Urbino with the political history, the visual language and the propagandists function of art are being described. The first chapter is an introduction to the subject and the four following ones are chronological accounts for and interpretations of the condottiere princes' visual rhetoric. In a concluding chapter the visual language of the four princes is compared and a deeper interpretation is launched, the perspective is widened and the heritage of the princely rhetoric is depicted.

The activities of the condottieri were a phenomenon which culminated at the end of the 15th century. Thanks to the large profits amassed from missions in command of mercenary troops, they were able to establish in Emilia Romagna and the Marche a court life and levels of artistic patronage never previously encountered. The extensive commissions played a central role in the process of marketing il condottiere and as such provided an important basis for their political, social and economic power. They had different backgrounds, capacities, ambitions and careers. They imitated one another's themes and messages, as well as the means with which to convey them, but with varying intentions and different results. They standardized art and architecture, as well as laid the foundations for new media, building forms, symbolic languages and portrait types which proved significant for the princely rhetoric of the following centuries.

Johan Eriksson is Associate Professor of Art History at Uppsala University. As a researcher he is also affiliated with the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome. His research focus on visual communication in Early Modern Sweden, Italy and Japan, as well as history of perspective, history of collections and digital art history.

11 March 2021, 17.00, on zoom

Ragnar Hedlund (Uppsala University Coin Cabinet): “Roman Emperors and Local Elites in Asia Minor”

The Roman empire was a world of monumental architecture and images. However, characterizing the monuments of the Roman age as imperial “propaganda” falls somewhat off the mark. This is because monumental buildings in the Roman world were frequently constructed and dedicated to the emperor by other actors in Roman society - the Roman senate, wealthy elites or ambitious individuals. Accordingly, during the last decades, the Roman imperial monuments have frequently been characterized as “public displays of consensus” rather than propaganda.

In the Roman provinces, the desire to participate in such “consensus” could lead to intense competition among local elites. The landscape of Roman Asia Minor is a telling example of this. Here, Swedish archaeologists have been excavating the sanctuary of Labraunda in the southwestern part of the region since 1948. During these excavations, a number of monumental buildings from the Roman imperial age were found. For the last 10 years, these buildings have been studied systematically. In this seminar I will present some of the some of the findings from these investigations.


4 March 2021, 17.00, on zoom

Simon Malmberg (Dept. of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen): “Understanding Ancient Rome as a Port City: A Survey of the Banks of the Tiber”

For several centuries, Rome was the largest city of the ancient Mediterranean world, with a probable peak population of around one million inhabitants in the second century CE. A massive infrastructure was necessary to be able to sustain such a huge population. The Tiber and its harbours were the most important part of this supply organisation.

Within the urban area of Rome, along 18 km of the Tiber, there is a concentration of large-scale archaeological remains related to the port. Through an examination of some of these remains, this presentation will try to demonstrate that the city of Rome might have been one of the major port cities of the ancient Mediterranean world. It will also present evidence for two different kinds of harbours in Rome: one related to inland traffic, the other to Mediterranean shipping.

Simon Malmberg is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Bergen. He has previously worked as research fellow at the Swedish Institute in Rome, and as guest professor at the Norwegian Institute in Rome. His research has been devoted to movement and its impact on urban development in major cities of the Roman Empire such as Rome, Ostia, Ravenna and Constantinople. He is currently conducting a project on the evolution of Rome as a port city in the period 200 BCE-600 CE.


25 February 2021, 17.00, on zoom
(in Swedish)

Kristian Göransson, Francavilla di Sicilia: Resultat från institutets utgrävningar 2016-2018

Francavilla di Sicilia

Francavilla di Sicilia ligger ca 2 mil väster om Naxos som var den äldsta grekiska kolonin på Sicilien. Naxos är väl undersökt men om inlandet vet vi betydligt mindre. Fyndet av en arkaisk helgedom till bl.a. Demeter och Persefone i Francavilla 1979 riktade uppmärksamheten mot denna lilla stad. Det spekulerades i om den stod under Naxos kontroll och om den gick att identifiera med den aldrig funna antika staden Kallipolis. I ett samarbete med Parco Archeologico Naxos Taormina och Francavillas kommun kunde Svenska Institutet i Rom 2016 inleda undersökningar på platsen. Hittills har tre kortare utgrävningskampanjer ägt rum, 2016, 2017 och 2018. De övergripande målen med det svenska projektet är att det skall sprida ljus över frågan om vilket förhållande den anonyma staden kan ha haft till Naxos, när staden grundades och – i förlängningen – om Francavilla går att identifiera med Kallipolis. Ett mer konkret mål med projektet är att undersöka den antika stadens stadsplan och förstå bebyggelsens utbredning.

Kristian Göransson är fil dr och universitetslektor i antikens kultur och samhällsliv vid Göteborgs universitet. Under åren 2013–2019 var han direktör för Svenska Institutet i Rom och tog då initiativ till utgrävningen av Francavilla på Sicilien. Hans forskning har främst rört antikens greker på Sicilien och i Libyen, handel och ekonomi, studier av antik keramik, särskilt amforor från klassisk och hellenistisk tid. För närvarande driver han ett av RJ finansierat projekt om det grekiska Cyrenaika i Libyen vid Svenska Institutet i Athen.


18 February 2021, 17.00, on zoom

Hampus Olsson, The Biedano Region 480-50 BC: Political and Socio-Cultural Development in a South Etruscan Town and Its Hinterland

About 70 km north of Rome, we find the sleepy hilltop town of Blera. It is far from being one of the most important towns in the region today but impressive archaeological remains in the surrounding countryside tell of Blera's ancient importance. Together with other minor centers in the region, Blera can boast of astonishing rock-hewn necropoleis, an architectural feature unique to this region. These marvelous tombs reveal a very prosperous local aristocracy flourishing here in the 4th to the 2nd centuries BC. In the 4th century BC the Biedano region found itself in the middle of a military conflict between Rome and the South Etruscan cities, which eventually would lead to the end of the Etruscan cities as independent City-states. How did this period of turmoil affect a somewhat peripheral region as the Biedano? Who were these local aristocratic gentes, and how were their lives influenced by the inevitable coming of Rome? These are some of the questions we will try to answer with this seminar.

Hampus Olsson, Ph.D. Candidate in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History at Lund University in Sweden, holds the annual fellowship in Archaeology at the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome 2020/21. The focus of his research is mainly on identity and socio-political change during the Hellenistic and Roman Republican periods in Etruria. Olsson has participated in various archaeological field investigations in Etruria (Tarquinia, San Giovenale) and in Lucania (Rionero in Vulture). The Biedano Region 480-50 BC: Political and Socio-cultural Development in a South Etruscan town and its Hinterland is the title of his upcoming Ph.D. thesis. 

11 February 2021, 17.00, on zoom.

Magnus Borg, Solidity and Inconstancy – Roman Spolia and the Semiotics of Culture

Vatican Obelisk, Maarten van Heemskerck  1535Abstract

The remains of ancient Roman architecture - in situ or as transferred and reused objects - were ubiquitous in medieval Rome as well as across Italy. The interpretations of their re-use have varied widely but so far little work has been done to accommodate these views or to apply a contextualising historical approach. The cultural semiotics of among others Jurij Lotman offer a potentially useful theoretical framework for deeper understanding, but also present methodological challenges. How can researchers "mine" sources to extract information attributable to specific spoliatic objects? Is the study of spolia relevant to historical research?

Magnus Borg, MA in History from Stockholm University, has a background in theatre, music production and computing. He has published the articles "Våld och Visioner - Möten med högre makter i Peter de Dusburgs Cronica Terre Prussie" (Collegium Medievale 2018) and "Good Men Gone Bad? Resistance to monastic reform in the tenth and eleventh centuries" (Early Medieval Europe 2021 (forthcoming)). Borg holds the Friends of the Swedish Institute in Rome’s Fellowship 2020/21.


 4 February 2021, 17.00 on zoom
Gustav Zamore (Centre of Medieval Studies, Stockholm University): “Medieval Contestations of Sacred Space: Rome and Beyond”

ZamoreA strange event took place in Rome on Maundy Thursday of 1116 when Pope Paschal II celebrated the chrism mass in San Giovanni in Laterano. On his way to the high altar, his path was blocked by a man standing with torn clothes, scissis uestibus. The man was Pietro di Conti, son of the recently deceased urban prefect, who sought to publicly challenge the Pope’s refusal to name him the new urban prefect.     

 This event and its aftermath highlight how sacred spaces and the rituals that defined them could be harnessed for political and subversive purposes, a strategy that has been used both by elites and non-elites in medieval society.

In this paper, I will present some findings from my preparatory research for a project on the role of sacred space in high and late medieval culture. I will present a reading of the events in Rome described above and contrast these with examples from across Europe, leading to a tentative theorisation of how we can understand sacred spaces as an arena of political contestation.

Gustav Zamore (DPhil Merton College, Oxford University, 2017) is a guest researcher at the Dept. of History and the Centre for Medieval Studies at Stockholm University. His research interests lie in the religious culture, broadly defined, of the High and Late Middle Ages. Zamore is currently working on a project on political contestations of sacred space for which he has received a Rausing scholarship at the Swedish Institute in Rome.



Seminars 2020