The materiality of faces

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From different times, in different parts of Europe north of the Alps objects decorated with anthropomorphic faces appear in the archaeological record. In the 5th century BC and in the 5th century AD faces gained a visual and material presence when they were placed in prominent positions on a wide range of objects. And they remained important pictorial elements in Celtic Latène and early medieval Germanic art. By concentrating on faces I aim to argue in this paper that there is some, if tenuous, evidence for stylistic and iconographical continuities from Latène to early medieval faces but also and probably more importantly for conceptual continuities reflecting the idea of the anthropomorphic face in art. By creating the faces, giving them a visual and material reality, they affected actively the beholders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBarbaric Splendour
Subtitle of host publicationThe use of image before and after Rome
EditorsToby Martin, Wendy Morrison
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78969-660-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-78969-659-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Latène art, early medieval art, Mediterranean imports, mistress/master of the animals, animal style, mental constructs, bracteates

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