Exhibition Lecture: Seeing the Supernatural

Art and Religion in Roman Gaul

Kimberly Cassibry

Wellesley College

This talk explores the role of art in Gallic religion before, during, and after Caesar’s conquest. The Gauls themselves left few written documents about their religious beliefs, possibly because the druids insisted on the oral transmission of knowledge. The material record reveals that they had not necessarily imagined their gods in human form before conquest, though they were accustomed to appeasing supernatural forces with gifts of exquisitely crafted metalwork. After annexation, the inscribed and sculpted stone monuments that they began to dedicate bear witness to a fascinating era of experimentation, when their newly imagined gods were represented alongside Greek and Roman ones for the first time. In reassessing the role of art in Gallic religion, this talk sheds new light on the rich cultural heritage of the Roman Empire’s provinces.

Kimberly Cassibry is Associate Professor of Art at Wellesley College. She is currently completing her first book entitled Destinations in Mind: Portraying Places on the Roman Empire’s Souvenirs. Her second book addresses the impact of empire on the Celtic, Greek, and Roman art of ancient France. She is also preparing to launch a digital humanities project featuring a database of all ancient arch monuments. Her research on cultural exchange and commemoration around the ancient Mediterranean has been funded by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Getty Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.

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