Hallie G. Meredith
Engaging Mourners and Maintaining Unity: Third and Fourth Century Gold-Glass Roundels from Roman Catacombs
Roman gold-glass provides evidence of a nascent custom widely practiced throughout the catacombs but limited to Rome – excising a gold-glass roundel from a functional vessel or inserting an entire vessel with gold-glass base and – permanently sealing it outside of a loculus. Although less common, gold-glass pendants were also selected for inclusion outside of tombs. It had been presumed that the intended recipient was the deceased. This essay, however, argues that gold-glass roundels were effectively a means of engaging mourners; their placement shaping interactions in funerary spaces. Analysing the iconography and inscribed content typically found on both third century gold-glass pendants and third to fourth century goldglass vessel bases, this essay investigates the shift from likeness to abstracted individuation on these roundels which coincided with a fundamental change in the relationship between viewer and mourner.