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Reset in Stone
Memory and Reuse in Ancient Athens

Wisconsin Studies in Classics
Laura McClure, Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell, and Matthew Roller, Series Editors

“A well-crafted and meticulously researched contribution to the archaeological study of memory. Through the well-presented framework of ‘upcycling’ as a new and original approach to the study of reuse in the ancient Greek world, Rous juxtaposes ancient and modern aesthetics, allowing her to place the Athenian case studies that she treats in exacting detail in a much broader anthropological perspective.”
—Troels Myrup Kristensen, Aarhus University

Ancient Athenians were known to reuse stone artifacts, architectural blocks, and public statuary in the creation of new buildings and monuments. However, these construction decisions went beyond mere pragmatics: they were often a visible mechanism for shaping communal memory, especially in periods of profound and challenging social or political transformation.

Sarah Rous develops the concept of upcycling to refer to this meaningful reclamation, the intentionality of reemploying each particular object for its specific new context. The upcycling approach drives innovative reinterpretations of diverse cases, including column drums built into fortification walls, recut inscriptions, monument renovations, and the wholesale relocation of buildings. Using archaeological, literary, and epigraphic evidence from more than eight centuries of Athenian history, Rous’s investigation connects seemingly disparate instances of the reuse of building materials. She focuses on agency, offering an alternative to the traditional discourse on spolia. Reset in Stone illuminates a vital practice through which Athenians shaped social memory in the physical realm, literally building their past into their city.


Author. Photo credit, Name Sarah A. Rous is a lecturer in the Department of Classics at San Francisco State University.




“Persuasive, integrated, and innovative. It is very instructive and fresh to discuss changes that are meant to transform memory without being visible alongside visible and meaningful reuse. Rous’s enticing explanatory framework makes this possible.”
—Lea Stirling, University of Manitoba


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Also in the Series


Athens, Etruria, and the Many Lives of Greek Figured Pottery
Sheramy D. Bundrick


Shaping Ceremony
Monumental Steps and Greek Architecture
Mary B. Hollinshead

Book Title

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November 2019
LC: 2019008130 DF
392 pp. 8 x 10
72 b/w illus.

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Casebound $99.95 s
ISBN 9780299322809
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