November 8 AIA Lecture "Emperors, Gods, and Gladiators: Emperor Worship in the Colosseum”
Program begins at 6:30 PM in Joslyn's Witherspoon Concert Hall; cash bar opens at 5 PM

The Omaha-Lincoln Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), in partnership with the Department of Fine & Performing Arts at Creighton University and Joslyn Art Museum, continues its exceptional programming with another free public lecture. This event is sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America and the Department of Fine and Performing Arts and the McCormick Fund at Creighton University.



"Emperors, Gods, and Gladiators: Emperor Worship in the Colosseum”
presented by Nathan T. Elkins, Ph.D., Baylor University


The Colosseum is well understood as a dynastic monument that was key to the Flavian building program and to Flavian ideology. It was the fulfilment of Augustus’s ambition for a large-scale amphitheater; it served to diminish Nero’s memory, as it was constructed on the atrium of his dismantled Golden House; and it was a victory monument built with the spoils of the Jewish War. And, of course, it was a magnificent venue for lavish spectacles and entertainments to highlight imperial beneficence. Nonetheless, one important political aspect of this dynastic monument has been largely overlooked: its connection with emperor worship.

Outside of Rome, it is well known that amphitheaters served as a venue for the procession and placement of cult images of gods and emperors; in Rome, the Circus Maximus and the theaters were venues for the display of imperial images and attributes brought in during their respective processions. Through the deployment of textual, topographical, and visual evidence, Elkins demonstrate that the Colosseum also had a pulvinar (a platform) that displayed images and attributes of the gods and deified emperors and empresses brought in during processions at the start of the games. The location of the pulvinar and the mechanisms by which it was serviced are explored, as are the ideological implications of cultic activity in the Colosseum.

What's pictured: Jean Leon-Gerome (French, 1824-1904), Pollice Verso, 1872, oil on canvas, Phoenix Art Museum, 1968.52

Dr. Nathan T. Elkins is Associate Professor of Art History and a specialist in Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology. Before taking up the position at Baylor, he held teaching and research posts at the Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Germany and at the Yale University Art Gallery. He holds a B.A., magna cum laude, in Archaeology and Classical Studies from the University of Evansville; an M.A., with distinction, in the City of Rome from the University of Reading, England; and a Ph.D. in Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology from the University of Missouri. He is a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society (New York) and a Fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society (London).


Dr. Elkins' research areas and expertise include Roman art and archaeology, coinage and coin iconography, topography and architecture, sport and spectacle, and the illicit antiquities trade. He is the author of two books: The Image of Political Power in the Reign of Nerva, A.D. 96-98 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2017) and Monuments in Miniature: Architecture on Roman Coinage (New York: Numismatic Studies 29, American Numismatic Society, 2015). He is writing a third book, entitled A Monument to Dynasty and Death: The Story of Rome’s Colosseum and the Emperors Who Built It, for the Witness to Ancient History series published by Johns Hopkins University Press. He also edited, with Stefan Krmnicek, Art in the Round: New Approaches to Ancient Coin Iconography (Rahden: Tübinger Archäologische Forschungen 16, Verlag Marie Leidorf, 2014) and is presently editing, with Lea Cline, The Oxford Handbook of Roman Imagery and Iconography, which will be published by Oxford University Press.

His articles have been published in venues such as the Papers of the British School at Rome, the Journal of Field Archaeology, the American Journal of Numismatics, the Numismatic Chronicle, and as chapters in various edited books. He is, since January 2018, the editor of the American Journal of Numismatics for all contributions on the ancient world; AJN, published by the American Numismatic Society in New York, is a leading, international peer-reviewed journal that publishes critical research on ancient coinage. Dr. Elkins has excavated at archaeological sites in Texas, Italy, and Israel. He is presently the staff numismatist (coin specialist) at the excavations of the late Roman/Byzantine synagogue at Huqoq in Israel's Galilee region and at the excavations of the late Roman fort at Ayn-Gharandal in southern Jordan. Several Baylor students have accompanied Dr. Elkins to participate in fieldwork at Huqoq, Israel.



Founded in 1879, the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) was chartered by the United States Congress in 1906, in recognition of its role in the development and passage of the Antiquities Act, which Theodore Roosevelt signed into law that year. Today, the AIA remains committed to preserving the world's archaeological resources and cultural heritage for the benefit of people in the present and in the future. The Lincoln-Omaha Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, chartered in 1995, provides the residents of Nebraska and western Iowa opportunities to attend lectures by prominent international, national, and local archaeologists.