Prof. Dr. Francesca Fulminante

Alumnus (Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies)

Mailing address

Universität Erfurt
Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
Postfach 90 02 21
99105 Erfurt

Prof. Dr. Francesca Fulminante

Personal Information

Senior Research Fellow, University of Bristol, UK
Adjunct Professor (Cultore della Materia), University Roma Tre, Italy

After a PhD from Cambridge University (2008) and post-doctoral positions at excellent Universities and Institutes across Europe, including a Marie Curie Sklodowska Fellowship at the University of Roma Tre (2014-2016), Francesca Fulminante is now Senior Researcher and Lecturer both in the UK (University of Bristol and Royal Holloway 2019-20) and Italy (University Roma Tre). Her research investigates Mediterranean urbanization during the first Millennium BCE with a focus on central Italy (Le Sepolture Principesche, L’Erma di Bretschneider 2003 and The Urbanization of Rome, CUP 2014). She has contributed to many excavations (Rome, Veii, Pompeii, Crustumerium, Colle di Marzo). She published extensively on macro-economic, social, and productive aspects of urbanization such as social stratification, reflected in burial practices, settlement centralization, transportation networks and political agency or community practices in smelting techniques. She has also investigated and published on more intimate and individual subjects such as breastfeeding/child-rearing practices and gender issues in first millennium BCE Italy and more widely in the Mediterranean. Here, at the Max Weber Kollegium, she will work with the Urbanity and Religion cluster, led by Jörg Rüpke and Susanne Rau, to investigate the complex relationship between religious agency and urban settings in Early Iron Age central Italy to teas out if and how, paraphrasing a famous sentence of Francois de Polignac, “the city contributed to the rise of the sanctuary, or the sanctuary contributed to the rise of the city”?

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Research Project

Religion and Urbanity in its Formation: A case study from Early Rome and Central Italy

Between the 10th and the 5th century BC Italian populations underwent radical changes in the social, political and ethnic organization which led from the mainly „egalitarian“ communities of the dispersed villages of the Bronze Age, to the „hierarchical“ and „centralised“ societies of the Archaic cities.

Many scholars have contributed to delineate this trajectory by looking at various aspects of the social structure, production, economy etc. but probably the religious aspect has been less intensively investigated, apart the emphasis posed by Alessandro Guidi on early urban cult places, preceeding the monumental realization of the temples of the Archaic Period, especially in Latium vetus.

Connecting to Polignac, Lefevre and Bourdie and by taking Rupke’s concept of religion as active agent of urbanity, the project seeks to explore the specific role of religion in the creation of the first cities in Western Europe.

At the core of the project is the following questions: 1) is it the city which contributes to the rise of the sanctuary, or the sanctuary, which contributes to the rise of local cities? 2)  Which is the role of religion in the shift from more heterarchical to hierarchical organizations?

The project will answer these questions, by analysing cult places in the wider network of central Italian transportation communication system and by investigating their reciprocal position and role within the system as compared to other types of settlements (domestic, functional, funerary etc.). This will allow to elaborate on the role and significance of the various spaces of ritual performance within the societies involved and eventually verify of Polignac’s model is applicable to central Italy as well.


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  • Online:

Where do Cities Come from and Where are they going to? Special Research Topic. Frontiers Digital Humanities 2018-21 


  • Coming soon: 

The Rise of Early Rome: Transportation Networks and Domination in Central Italy, 1050-500 BC, 2021 CUP;

Infants and Children Agency in Past and Present Urban Societies, Special Volume Childhood in the Past 2021