The Museum of Classical Archaeology is filled with sculptural expressions of the human form, including many heads. In one corner of the gallery, nestled among a display of busts, are two heads with ragged, broken edges around the neck. These came from bronze sculptures of Roman emperors Augustus and Claudius; the sculptures having been decapitated as a symbol of resistance during local uprisings by the Kushite and Iceni, respectively. Nearby in the gallery is another instance of decapitation, this time carried out by the Roman Empire. The scene from Trajan’s column shows the severed heads of two Dacians being presented to Trajan on the battlefield; a symbol of Rome’s enduring power and expanding empire.
Rather than re-tell or verbally extend the information already given in the captions about these heads, we decided to complement it with a (hopefully!) thought-provoking collection of sounds. In the soundscape, we wanted to explore the circumstances of these heads – what they symbolise(d), how they came to be detached from their bodies, and how their stories both overlap and diverge. The wolf played an important role in Celtic, Dacian and Roman mythologies and, even today, is often seen as symbolic of wildness and freedom. We invite the listener to reflect on the themes of identity, power, and expression which we ourselves were occupied by during the two-day programme.
Written by Kiki Bordean, Heidi McEvoy-Swift and Katrina Dring with the help of the Museum Remix and wider UCM teams
Read by Kiki Bordean, Heidi McEvoy-Swift, Katrina Dring, Ruchika Gurung and Barney Brown