Skip to Content

Parthenon Symposia: Making Ancient Vases Sing: Musical Imagery in the Art of South Italy

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Music was an integral component of daily life in the ancient Mediterranean world. There is abundant evidence—literary, visual, and archaeological—for the importance of music to religious ritual, celebratory banquets, personal entertainment, and even mythological narratives. For example, nearly 1700 vases decorated with musical imagery, all created in the 4th century BCE, have been recovered from one region of South Italy alone.


On Thursday, February 21st, Dr. Veronica Ikeshoji-Orlati will give a brief overview of the body of musical imagery on these red-figure vases and then dive into an explanation of the latest techniques of analysis. The use of a combined traditional, iconographic approach with a contemporary data-driven one illustrates the complexity of “reading” musical imagery on these vases as documents of performance practice in their time. This hybrid method also highlights the artist’s hand in creating both ancient and modern perceptions about musicians and their instruments.


The Parthenon
Centennial Park
Nashville, TN 37203