Greek Vases, Iberian Places: Visual Literacy and Interpretation in Hispania

In: Learning to See: The Meanings, Modes and Methods of Visual Literacy

Art historians dealing with ancient cultures have a fundamental obstacle: how to understand the conditions and role of visual literacy in the past. This chapter builds on the theoretical foundation provided by the recent work of Adolfo Dominguez and others and addresses the notion of visual literacy and agency among ancient Iberian elites by enunciating the ‘biographies’ of several Greek vases found at Spanish sites of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. An examination proves that Iberian elite patrons were sophisticated viewers who employed Greek vases within assemblages of objects from a variety of cultures to transmit concepts of class cohesion, social identity and power.

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