The research regards the analysis of ancient covering systems in Greek and Roman areas of the ancient world between the Late Archaic (500 BC) and the Late Antique periods (Fourth - Fifth century AD), and with specific reference to sculptured and/or painted figural coffered ceilings.
The study aims to reconstruct the decorative evolution of this specific type of architectural decoration during the long period of its use. Among its chief objectives, the project intend offer an iconographic and iconological reading of the decorative and figurative repertoire within the lacunars. Fundamentally, several figurative themes (with particular reference to prosopa, busts, and mythological representations) sculpted and/or painted within the coffers have not been identified up to now. Also the traditionally accepted interpretation as exclusively decorative purposes of the floral ornaments, which are constantly represented within coffered ceilings it require more deeply and new re-examination. None of the existing studies has ever ventured to reconstruct – in iconographic and iconological key – the decorative and figurative repertoire depicted in ceilings. Furthermore, none has tried to follow the dynamics and developments of this repertoire. It lacks, also, any attempt to link specific figurative themes and cycles to a specific function of some buildings (i.e. sacral or funeral contexts).
Nevertheless, the topic offers very interesting research perspectives in view of: reconstructing a repertoire of decorative and figurative motives within coffered ceilings; decoding their meaning, with special reference to the sculpted and/or painted prosopa, their problematic identification, their relationship with decorative (such as floral and geometrical) and figurative (such as mythological) motives previously and/or contemporary attested; the role effectively played by Pausias regarding coffered ceilings’ decoration; the eventual relationship between the function of a building and its ceiling’s decoration; recognizing, defining and understanding the role played by astral representations (especially with prosopa) among the possible decorative motives sculpted or painted in the frame of ceilings.
Consuelo Manetta was an adjunct professor in Classical Archaeology at the University of Tor Vergata in Rome, Italy. Her research interests encompass different aspects of Classical archaeology including ancient Thracian material culture of present-day Bulgaria, and an in-depth study of the iconography of funerary wall paintings and their interconnection with ritual and cultural issues. Her monograph Painted Tombs of Bulgaria from the late Classical to the Early Hellenistic Periods is forthcoming. She was an AIAS-COFUND fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies from 2014-2017.