fuckyeahalejandra replied to your post: Ancient Art Week! Various Roman Sculpt…

Are these sculptures of roman citizens or slaves?

The association of Black people with enslavement is an entirely modern invention, as in, chattel slavery in the Americas and the routine enslavement of black people in Europe did not exist in Rome. Roman slavery was NOT the same as chattel slavery, and it did not have anything to do with race as we know it today.

There is nothing about any of those artworks that indicates slave status.

This is what I’m talking about when I say that our modern attitudes and colonial-era histories 100% affect the way we view ancient artworks.

American schools teach “slavery then civil rights”, and that’s their “Black History” curricula, for the most part. That’s why I get responses like this. Because it seems like a large number of Americans see any Black person from before 1950 and think “slave”.

This is far from the first time someone has asked this, and it probably is far from the last time I will be asked. It’s my hope that people will really think about how we got to this point, and why it’s so necessary to explore how this degree of anti-blackness has been codified into our education system.

Golden funerary wreath 

Worn on the head of the deceased. It is made from gold oakleaves and acorns. 

Roman, Imperial Period, 1st - 2nd century AD. 

Source: The Metropolitan Museum

The green lion devouring the Sun.

In alchemy, the green lion describes a chemical reaction but also represents a midpoint in a spiritual transformation; it symbolizes a step towards perfection. In mystical terms, it’s a step out of darkness (winter) towards some final transformation.

“I am who was the green and golden lion without cares; within me lie all the mysteries of the philosophers”, from Rosarium Philosophorum (c. 1550).