Last Statues of Antiquity Database

This recently activated site is described as “a searchable database of the published evidence for statuary and inscribed statue bases set up after AD 284, that were new, newly dedicated, or newly reworked.”  The project is directed by R.R.R. Smith and Bryan Ward-Perkins at Oxford University, where the site is hosted; the database was produced by a large international team of contributors, with funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

One can browse by this wonderful database by its assigned LSA number, although this is not very efficient, as these were randomly assigned, and there are 2579 entries.  There is also a simple search by term, and a powerful advanced search, by any of the data categories in each entry, including: Broad Region, Late Antique Province, Ancient City, Object Type and Material, Date, Honorand (including Gender and Status), Clothing, Hairstyle, and Beardstyle, as well as Inscription Language and Style.

Indeed, the material is often interesting from the perspective of epigraphy rather than art history.  This is because many statues have been lost, with only their bases remaining.  In any case, the images, whether of statuary are inscriptions on bases, are a major strength of the database; many entries have photographs taken from multiple perspectives.

To demonstrate the fascinating material at your fingertips: a search for “Deities, Personifications, and Heroes” as “Honorand” reveals 81 results, of which the vast majority are bases with inscriptions, without a surviving statue – because of Christian iconoclasm?  One statue base (LSA 610) excavated at Ephesus by J. Keil at the beginning of the 20th century, proclaims in verse the replacement of Artemis with a cross.  A. Sokolicek, a database contributor, notes: “As far as we are aware, this is the only known record of a statue of a pagan deity being replaced by a Christian symbol.”  Certainly there are numerous inscriptions recording the conversion of a sanctuary into a church, but apparently this is the only published documentation for a “converted” statue!

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