Home / About / Rebecca Salem

Rebecca Salem


Rebecca Salem is a PhD candidate in Art History and Archaeology at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and is currently the Gorham Phillips Stevens Fellow in the History of Architecture at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. She specializes in ancient Greek architecture and her research focuses on the temporal element of construction, examining alterations, reuse of space, restorations, and unfinished building projects in the Archaic and Classical periods. Rebecca has excavated in Spain, the UK, Italy, and Greece and is currently a project architect on the American-Italian Excavations at Selinunte in Sicily and the project photogrammetrist on the American Excavations Samothrace project in Greece. Her paper for the 2023 Spring School in Archaeological Heritage Preservation and Cultural Heritage Discourses comes from her ongoing work on the architectural terracottas from the Corinth Excavations.

Building Heritage: A Case Study of the Architectural Terracottas of the South Stoa at Corinth

Cultural heritage is typically understood as a modern concept with origins in the late- 18th and early 19th centuries. More recent scholarship has shown that that there is ample evidence that pre-modern cultures curated their pasts in highly comparable ways, a recognition of the past in the past. However, cultural heritage does not simply encompass all material evidence but requires close examination and an understanding of the broader context. As a case study to identify cultural heritage in the ancient Greek world this paper examines the architectural terracottas of the South Stoa at Corinth.

Constructed in ca. 300 BCE, the South Stoa of Corinth, a multi-functional public building, possessed a roof that spanned 17,000 square meters and contained some 10,000 rooftiles. Over the course of 150 years some original tiles were damaged and new ones laid in their place. These
substitute tiles are similar to but not quite the same as the originals and often possess manufacturer stamps indicative of their “non-authentic” nature. In 146 BCE Corinth was sacked by the Romans and largely abandoned, with the roof likely suffering further damage. At some point during the first century BCE the entire roofing system of the stoa was replaced by Corinthians who were now Roman citizens. As with the earlier replacements, the Roman roof tiles have functional and decorative elements similar to the ca. 300 BCE originals; however, the manufacturing process is different, with forms molded rather than painted.

This paper examines the stoa architectural terracottas as material evidence for the curation of an architectural and cultural heritage in the production and decoration of architectural terracottas. I will argue that the design of the replacement tiles was a deliberate choice used to evoke the original appearance of the South Stoa rather than employing more contemporary or simpler designs. More broadly, this discussion situates itself within the discourse of cultural heritage concerning the identification of “maintenance,” “repair,” “replacement,” and “reconstruction” in an ancient context. While these are modern terminologies and practices implemented in the conservation and management of cultural heritage in the present, they also
can be witnessed in the past.