Barry McNamara  |   Published March 26, 2021

A Roman Pigment Shop

Visiting scholar Hilary Becker to present archaeology lecture at Monmouth College on March 31.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Twenty-first century consumers often look to a store such as Lowe’s or Menards when it comes time to paint the interior of their home.

HILARY BECKER: Binghamton University professor to speak on campus March 31. HILARY BECKER: Binghamton University professor to speak on campus March 31.Two thousand years ago, consumers visited the pigment shop, and that ancient Roman business will be the focus of a guest lecture at Monmouth College on March 31.

Hilary Becker, an assistant professor of classical studies at Binghamton University in New York, will present a Zoom talk at 7:30 p.m. titled “Shopping for Artists’ Materials in Ancient Rome: Pigment Shops, Pigments and Product Choice.” Free and open to the public, the talk can be accessed at this link.

Becker is writing a book on the economy of the Roman pigment industry, titled Commerce in Color, which was inspired by her work on a Roman imperial pigment shop from the excavations of Sant’Omobono church in Rome.

“The discovery of the only known pigment shop in ancient Rome revealed an array of colors in their raw, mineral form waiting to be sold to wall painters,” she said. “Ancient pigments provide a surprising opportunity to understand how science can be used in archaeology, revealing what pigments were present in the shop and, potentially, the source from which they originated, as well as exploring the supply-side economy of Roman painting and the steps by which these pigments went from the mine, to a shop, to the walls of a Roman house.”

Becker earned her undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and her master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of North Carolina. She has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society and the Loeb Classical Library, among others.

This year, she is the Ferdinando and Sarah Cinelli Lecturer in Etruscan and Italic Archaeology for the Archaeological Institute of America. In addition to her book, Becker has written articles and chapters dealing with Etruscan and Roman economy, as well as Etruscan religion and settlement patterns.

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