Roman Decorative Stone Collections in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Subjects: Archaeology, Roman, Reference
Hardcover : 9780472131952, 282 pages, 54 images 3 tables, 8.5 x 11, August 2024
Ebook : 9780472126750, 282 pages, 54 images 3 tables, 8.5 x 11, August 2024
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A visual and historical guide to North America’s largest collection of Roman marble artifacts


At the turn of the twentieth century, Francis W. Kelsey began to amass a large collection of artifacts from ancient sites across the Mediterranean, with an emphasis on Imperial Rome, to broaden the teaching of antiquity at the University of Michigan. Among the objects now housed in the museum that bears his name is a collection of seven hundred colorful stones dating to the Roman period, one of the largest and most varied collections of Roman decorative stones outside Europe. These pieces were obtained as archaeological artifacts, mostly architectural, with many deriving from well-known ancient buildings, such as the Baths of Diocletian in Rome and the Palace of Herod in Jericho, allowing for new interpretations of their architectural decoration and design. Chapters trace the formation of the collection, study the archaeology of the artifacts, and detail the history of each stone and its study with a comprehensive bibliography. 

In keeping with the nature of the collection, Roman Decorative Stone Collections focuses on archaeological contexts and object biographies, from the stones’ first use to their eventual display in the Kelsey Museum. Entries are accompanied by rich photographs detailing the stones’ appearances, environmental factors, and their collectors. The fully illustrated catalog includes essays deriving from Kelsey’s original notes on sources, buildings, sites, and dealers. As the first formal catalog of these items, Roman Decorative Stone Collections is an accessible resource of Roman archaeology, antiquities, and the decorative arts.

J. Clayton Fant is Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies at the University of Akron.
Leah E. Long teaches Latin and Art History at Mercersburg Academy.
Lynley J. McAlpine is Associate Curator of Provenance Research at the San Antonio Museum of Art.

“The volume provides a thorough introduction to the collection and a detailed catalog. The scholarship is meticulous and up-to-date. This catalog will provide a useful addition to scholarship on other collections of ancient stones, which are mostly European.”
—Ben Russell, University of Edinburgh

- Ben Russell, University of Edinburgh

“All possible topics dealing with the subject treated in the volume have been covered with different in-depth analyses in a well-balanced way. This work will add to our knowledge about the collection of decorative stones used in antiquity in general, and, more particularly in the twentieth century, as a continuation of what started on a wider scale in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”
—Lorenzo Lazzarini, University of Venice

- Lorenzo Lazzarini, University of Venice