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Welcome to SPOLIA! This site intends to provide constantly updated specialised information on the studies and research on the Middle Ages. SPOLIA was devised by a group of scholars connected with the University of Rome "La Sapienza". Nowadays scholars of many universities collaborate with this project (University of Cassino, University of Lecce, University of Bologna, University of Padova, University of Zürich etc.).

The title SPOLIA hints at the twofold suggestion that the word has in its first meaning and in the almost technical meaning it has acquired in archaeological studies.

Literally, spolia are the spoils taken from enemies during wars. We consider similar to these the artistic, literary and historical material from the medieval past, as booty which has been rescued from the clutches of Time, the enemy of memory. These documents of an era must be presented objectively and with scientific attention within the historical period in which they were produced.

In archaeology, the term spolia is frequently used to indicate "recycled objects". These fragments of ancient monuments are inserted into architectural contexts that are different from the original, and used in the construction of new buildings. This "recycling" operation, which is typical of medieval building techniques, is often accompanied by a re-reading of the SPOLIUM which, in its new context, also takes on a new meaning.

In our opinion, the tradition/innovation dialectic, which is at the origin of the composition of artistic and literary works, is similar. Quotations, allusions and the other forms of intertextuality measure the links with contemporaries and predecessors, reinterpreting the testimonies through their position in a new semantic space.

The operation carried out by criticism is also similar, as it arrives at different readings by placing documents of the past in different contexts within different critical theories.

The term spolia includes therefore the three aspects that we would like to underline in the presentation of the materials: historical documents above all, artistic works devised by the tradition/innovation dialectic, and objects of critical reflection.

Teresa Nocita
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