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ARTH 3150: Etruscan and Roman Art: Sources for All Objects


Portrait of Lucius Verus with search terms; People: Lucius Verus, Emperor, Ruler, Man; Features: Beard, Hair, Marble; Location: Asia Minor, Turkey; Object Type: Sculpture, Portrait, Bust

After you have obtained the items from your bibliography, it is time to start doing research to contextualize your object. The research you've already done should have given you enough information to be able to think of search words that can help you find other objects you can use to do this. Don't just focus on what is known - Lucius Verus was an emperor, and you might be able to learn more about him, but you could choose to focus your research on masculinity and fabulous hair in Ancient Rome. Brainstorm before you search and as you search to find a direction to go with your research that is both valid and interesting.

Almost any aspect of your object can be a source for alternate language that will help you either learn more about it or articulate a research agenda:

  • Type of object and material
  • People: who might be shown in the object (both individuals and representatives of their age, class and gender), who might have owned or used it
  • Places: where it was found, where it was used, and what kind of place it belonged in (temple, home, tomb, public or private space)
  • Features: what stands out about this object? 

You will find examples similar to that above for objects of ancient Roman architecture, mosaic, and sculpture on the following pages.

Key databases

No matter what type of object you are researching, you will always want to use the following sources:

For articles

For images

General sources

Using ARTstor

I like to use ARTstor to search for other, similar objects I might use to contextualize the object I'm researching. A search in ARTstor for "Lucius Verus" finds many depictions of the bearded emperor, several also on portrait busts. 

Information about Lucius bust in a database

The information about these images tells me which museums own the objects, which could lead to more research on them.


EBSCO is not a database - it is a content provider that publishes many different databases, most of which can be searched simultaneously in the familiar EBSCO online interface.

You can always just go to the EBSCO tab on the library's home page and type in any keyword:

EBSCO search on the library homepage with 'poppaea' entered

However, you may get results that are not useful to you because we have a LOT of databases in EBSCO, and they are not all good for art history.

EBSCO search: We have a lot of EBSCO databases! Click 'choose databases' to select a few at a time.

If you want to only use a few databases, always choose Art Full Text and Art Index Retrospective, Avery Index, and Humanities International Complete.

Database selection screen with 'Humanities International Complete', 'Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson)', 'Art Index Retrospective (H.W. Wilson)', and 'Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals' selected.

Even though EBSCO has a lot of full text articles, you may not find a lot of full text when searching for art history topics. Instead, you will often see the "find it" button beneath the article citation.

EBSCO results screen where all items include the "Find it" button

You will sometimes see we do not have the item, but there will be a link to request it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Use the "find it" button on this EBSCO result for a review of Oplontis: Villa A to see how this works.




Other times you will see we only have it in print. Print journals are on the first floor behind the Learning Commons, in alphabetical order by title. Use the "find it" button on this EBSCO result for "A Virtual Villa" in Apollo to see how this works.


Sometimes, however, the Find It button will take you to full text. Use the "find it" button on this EBSCO result for "The Temple and Birthplace of Diva Poppaea" in Classical Quarterly to see how this works.


The second database you should always use for art history research is JSTOR. JSTOR is an archive of digitized scholarly journals where all the journals go back to volume 1, issue 1.

JSTOR is all full text, so you don't have to worry about the find it button here. However, its search engine isn't quite as sophisticated as EBSCO's, so it can be harder to find what is relevant. Exact spelling and vocabulary are important when searching JSTOR.

Like EBSCO, JSTOR covers a lot of different subject areas. You can limit to just art and archaeology as well as to English-language articles to make your searches more efficient.

JSTOR Search: Use quotes to search as a phrase, Limit articles to get rid of those pesky book reviews, and limit to English if you do not read in French or German, Scroll down to narrow to art, archaeology, and classical studies journals.