Ria Berg new director of the Finnish Institute in Rome

Dr. Ria Berg began her term as director of the Finnish Institute in Rome on August 1st, 2021. Berg is an adjunct professor of classical archaeology at the University of Helsinki and her research on Pompeii, Roman women and instrumentum domesticum has made her a well-known and esteemed scholar. Berg is already familiar with the Institute’s activities from her two terms as vice director in 2001-2005 and  2012-2016. During that time, she taught the Institute’s courses and participated in its research activities.

Berg’s research project focuses on the ancient Roman attitudes towards nature, reflected in many ways in the built environment as well as in art and literature. This relationship can be examined both as a personal experience of individual Romans and in a broader societal, ethical and philosophical sense. The relationship also underwent constant changes while Rome grew from a small village to a metropolis and again when urban areas shrunk during Late Antiquity.

Case studies will be conducted on houses in Pompeii and Ostia where the relationship with nature materialized in the articulations of indoor and outdoor spaces, in the paintings and sculptures decorating houses and in the decorative patterns of household objects. These help us consider how and why ancient Romans maintained close contact with nature in their urban and domestic environments.

The result of the research project will be an upgraded overall picture of the different aspects of the ancient Romans’ relationship with nature. A further research objective is to survey and consider the early stages of Western relationship with nature, including its problematic aspects.

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