Sunday, August 16, 2009

Maker's Mark

In Richard Sennett's 'The Craftsman' I am reading about the difference between theory and practice. A craftsman is trained to practice a process - such as making bricks. A theorist has a general level of education which makes him sufficient to study any theory. In the Roman world the lowly life of the slave brickmaker was an anonymous life but a highly significant life considering the majestic building that were built out of brick. When the slave dares to make a mark on his bricks to declare 'his presence' that is a rebellious act:

"The historian Moses Finlay wisely counsels against using a modern yardstick to read ancient maker's marks as sending signals of defiance; they declare, 'I exist' rather than 'I resist'. But 'I exist' is perhaps the most urgent signal a slave can send."


This is the mark of Domitii. The following is a short explanation:

Found in Mugnano in Teverina, a tiny village some 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Rome, the furnaces belonged to Tullus and Lucanus, brothers of the Domitii family, as an inscription found on the road leading to the brickfield confirms: "iter privatum duorum Domitiorum" (private road of the two Domitii). The furnaces provided bricks for grandiose buildings such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Market of Trajan and the Diocletian and Caracalla Baths, said archaeologist Tiziano Gasperoni, who discovered the furnaces.

I am also struck by a slight synchronicity here between the mark on a brick of a worker and the workers strike of 'In Dubious Battle' both are the attempts by the worker to let their voice be heard. To proclaim their existence and possibly, their defiance of the big bosses.

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