Special Address – University of Copenhagen

Special Address

The Playful and the Serious: Multiple Perspectives On Games In Ancient Greek Society

Fri 19 May, 09:15 - 10:00 (KUA3, Room 4A.0.69)

Dr Barbara Carè
Postdoctoral Researcher, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei & British Academy Research Fellow

The gaming sphere has constituted a very popular issue from early in the emerging discipline of ancient Greek culture studies, in archaeological scholarships as well as in antiquaries. Considerable attention has been given to the archaeological record and iconographic evidence related to games, generally deciphered as realistic sources of information about ancient amusements and as argument for a heritable continuity until today.

Nonetheless, games and game imagery assumed a strong symbolic connotation in antiquity; hence, evidence related to the ludic dimension can also be read as signifiers of deeper symbolic and ideological values, especially when deposited in archaeological contexts, such as sacred spaces or burial areas strictly conditioned by codified ritual behavior and gestures.

The presentation offers an insight into this rarely explored topic by focusing on the contextualization of archaeological materials. Some case studies will be discussed in an attempt to shed light on the metaphorical meanings game-related evidence has been overlaid with in terms of socio-cultural meanings or eschatological beliefs.

Barbara Carè is a postdoctoral researcher specialized in classical archaeology. She earned her PhD from the University of Turin (Italy), where she also received the academic title of "Cultore" of Classical Archaeology. As a field archaeologist, serving as field supervisor and technician within the excavation team of the same University, she has taken part in excavations on Greek sites in Magna Graecia and Sicily as well as on Roman sites in Northern Italy; she is currently engaged in studying different categories of finds for forthcoming publications.

She did postdoctoral studies in Greece in the framework of XVIII Onassis Fellowship Program for International Scholars and the "Academy of Plato" program of research grants promoted by the Onassis Foundation in collaboration with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She has been recently awarded a research fellowship from Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and British Academy; during the course of the fellowship she will spend 5 months as visiting scholar at the University of Nottingham.

Her academic interests include Greek ceramic productions, archaeology of funerary practices (especially with regard to child-related rites and goods), and history of ancient toys and games.

She is currently conducting a research project aiming at shedding light on the symbolic values of astragali and on the ritual behaviours involving these objects in the ancient Greek world.

Select Publications
"A proposito dell'astragalo nel mondo greco: note a margine di uno studio recente" in Orizzonti. Rassegna di Archeologia XIV, 2013.

"Le symbolisme des astragales" in V. Dasen & U. Schädler (eds.) Jeux et jouets gréco-romains. Archéothéma no. 31, 2013.

"La bambola e l'astragalo nelle tombe greche: testimonianze del mondo ludico infantile?" in C. Lambrugo & C. Torre (eds.) Il gioco e i giochi nel mondo antico tra cultura materiale e immateriale. Atti della giornata di Studi (Milano, 22 febbraio 2011). Documenti e Studi 55. Bari, 2013.

"L'astragalo in tomba nel mondo greco: un indicatore infantile? Vecchi problemi e nuove osservazioni a proposito di un aspetto del costume funerario" in A. Hermary & C. Dubois (eds.) L'enfant et la mort dans l'antiquité III. Le matériel associé aux tombes d'enfants. BIAMA, 12, 2012.