Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Lara Deeb

Reader 2

Michelle Berenfeld

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2013 Sonia M. Mehrmand


The study of social memory is not purely a historical or anthropological endeavor. Archaeology can provide a considerable amount of evidence about how and why people remembered. In this case study, the Colosseum will be studied in the broader sense of being a monument of damnatio memoriae and commemorative memory; the very act of building it can be seen as a form of “recutting” the landscape to fit the image Vespasian wanted to convey of his predecessor. The Colosseum will also be studied in an even larger historical context. This will involve analyzing the manner in which it was memorialized during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and by British visitors during the Victorian era. I will end the case study with an analysis of Benito Mussolini’s use of antiquity and the Colosseum to propagate Fascism.

Lastly, the concept of cultural heritage and the institutions that uphold it, particularly UNESCO, will be put into question. In illustrating the fluidity of interpretations of the past, in this case through material culture, I argue that the endeavor to codify them by establishing World Heritage sites is problematic because of their subjectivity to modern agendas. However, in order to understand changing attitudes and memories associated with a single monument, one must first explore the nature of social memory.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.