During my participation in Exploded View, I will collect various stories about traditions related to the alternative history of the Via Appia Antica as a former corpse road. A corpse road is a path wandered in order to bury loved ones, and the Via Appia Antica might be the oldest one in the world.
Due to Roman regulations, the act of burial wasn't allowed within the walls of the Eternal City. In order to prevent diseases from breaking out, people had to transport the dead bodies themselves outside of the city walls and bury them along the Via Appia. In this project, I will focus on several artistic expressions used in these burial traditions; like the lamento, a song of grief which is well known in Southern Europe and was mainly performed by women. Next to this, I am also interested in the use and consequences of the landscape in these traditions. Due to superstition, corpse roads were always build in straight lines in order to accommodate safe passage for the ghosts traveling these roads. Another hidden effect of this alternative history is the use of the Via Appia as feeding grounds for all kinds of animals and its natural attraction to sheep and their herders - due to the thousand-year long burial of corpses, the landscape is now highly fertile.
Furthermore, I will also look at the fictional death of the road itself with the loss of the main purpose of the road which is in connecting places. The Via Appia now is a highly touristic cultural attraction. The research will therefore also be concerned with the tracing of the places which it once connected and see what exactly these stations turned into over the course of time.
Miriam Sentler works together with Caterina Antonaci, curator at Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna