The International Colloquia on Provincial Roman Art begun in the 1980s under the auspices of the countries of Central Europe.
Urged on by the need to complete the patently inadequate CSIR catalogue devoted to the study of the Roman provinces that subsequently became Austria, and inspired by the work of Erna Diez entitled “Studien zum provinzialrömischen Kunstschaffen: Grabplastik in Noricum und Pannonien”, the foundations were laid for the first of these international colloquia. It was held in 1989 in the Austrian city of Graz and its main theme was an attempt to resolve the problems involved in studying Roman provincial art, focusing mainly on the afore mentioned provinces.
Now established as a biennial event, the second meeting was held in Veszprém (Hungary) in 1991 under the title “Die Steindenkmäler der Provinzen, Noricum, Raetien und Pannonien und ihre Beziehungen zu Italien” (“The stone monuments of the provinces of Noricum, Raetia and Pannonia and their relationship with Italy”).
The third Colloquium was held in 1993 in Bonn (Germany) and dealt with the Barbarian invasions and their influence on Roman provincial plastic art. Each of these first three colloquia had almost thirty speakers, although they still focused mainly on the central European provinces of what had been the Roman Empire.
The fourth meeting, in 1995, opened its doors to other, more easterly provinces, as well as attracting a larger number of specialists in the subject. It was held in the town of Celje in Slovenia, and had as its central theme the problems of dating and symbology.
In 1997 the event moved to Holland and expanded to cover more regions of the Roman area. Thus, in the city of Maastricht, the subject of discussion was “Typologie, Ikonographie und soziale Hintergründe der provinzialen Grabdenkmäler und Wege der ikonographischen Einwirkung” (“Typology, iconography and the social background of the funerary monuments and ways of iconographical influence”).
The 6th Colloquium (1999) was again held in Hungary, in Budapest. By this time, it had acquired international importance and German, French and English were established as the official languages. Two subjects were discussed that year, “Chronologie und Ikonographie der Grabmäler und Grabplastik” (“Chronology and iconography of funerary monuments”) and “Elemente der repräsentativen Baukunst” (“Elements of decorative architecture”).
Germany offered to host the seventh Colloquium, which was held in Cologne and had more than sixty speakers, an indication of the renown this type of congress had attained. On this occasion the dissertations were on “Romanisation und Resistenz in Plastik, Architektur und Inschriften des Imperium Romanum (“Romanisation and resistance in the plastic arts, architecture and epigraphy of the Roman Empire”).
In 2003, the eighth Colloquium was held in Zagreb (Croatia) and, in keeping with the spirit that had guided previous congresses –the internationalisation of a project that arose as a response to a particular problem in a particular part of the world- Italian was added as an official language. That year’s subject was “Religion und Mythos als Inspiration der provinzialrömischen Plastik” (“Religion and myths as an inspiration for Roman provincial plastic arts”).
The ninth edition returned to its country of origin, Austria, where, in the beautiful town of Innsbruck, a conference was held on the subject of “Die Selbstdarstellung der römischen Gesellschaft in den Provinzen im Spiegel der Steindenkmäler” (“The self-portrait of Roman society in the provinces mirrored by the works of art in stone”). On this occasion the number of participants was several times larger than at any previous edition.
However, it was not until the tenth Colloquium, held in Arles (France) in 2007, that the true turning point was reached in the trajectory of this congress. It was then that it was opened up to the archaeologically rich Western provinces and the spectacular Asian provinces, acquiring a definitive impact, not only among researchers and scientists at the highest international levels, but also among the general public interested in this aspect of art and the Roman world in general. With a large Spanish delegation, as well as representatives from the farthest-flung provinces of the Roman world, it was a macro-colloquium that brought more than one hundred speakers and over two hundred delegates to the French city, demonstrating its huge significance and acting as a worldwide showcase for the host region. The subject of the colloquium was “Les ateliers de sculpture régionaux: technique, style et iconographie” (“Regional sculpture workshops: technique, style and iconography”).
Following the premises that inspired predecessors, the 11th International Colloquium on Provincial Roman Art held 2009 in Mérida, Spain, appeared as a worldwide benchmark, not only for its significance in the scientific world, but also for the repercussions the colloquium had on Mérida as well as on the whole of region of Extremadura.
2011 the city of Pula, Croatia, hosted the 12th colloquium. The participants discussed two main topics: ‚Dating of Stone Monuments and Criteria for Determination of Chronology’, and ‚Representations of women and family’.
These colloquia have become an excellent instrument for scientific projection and dissemination, as the conference days dedicated to presentations and discussions are always complemented by visits to Roman archaeological sites.