Université d'Erfurt

Lived Ancient Religion: Questioning "cults" and "polis religion" (2012-2017)

This project, accepted by the European Research Council (ERC), takes a completely new perspective on the religious history of Mediterranean antiquity, starting from the individual and "lived" religion instead of cities or peoples. "Lived ancient religion" suggests a set of experiences, of practices addressed to, and conceptions of the divine, which are appropriated, expressed, and shared by individuals in diverse social spaces. Within this spatial continuum ranging from the primary space of a) the family, b) the secondary space of associations, to c) the shared space of public institutions and d) trans-local literary communication, four research fields are defined. In each of them a sub-project addresses representative complexes of evidence in different parts of the Mediterranean in the Imperial period. They are bound together by the transversal analysis of the interaction of individuals with the agents of traditions and providers of religious services within the various fields. The methodological innovation of the "lived ancient religion" approach is defined through the notions of religious experience, embodiment, and "culture formed in interaction",  which are intended to replace the present foci of symbols, rituals, and "culture as text".

In order to transgress the usual research boundaries of "cults" and "religions" the bodies of evidence brought together within the sub-projects cover ancient Mediterranean religion geographically in an extended manner, focusing on Egypt and Italy, Syria and Greece, but also including evidence from the Western and Danubian provinces as well as from North Africa. The project of "Lived Ancient Religion" is pioneering inasmuch as it develops and tests a far-reaching alternative model to "cults" and "polis religion" in order to analyse and describe ancient Mediterranean religion. Its risk lies in modifying the methodology implied in the "lived religion" approach to contemporary religion for the necessities of a body of evidence that is characteristic of a "dead religion".

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  • Janico Albrecht, M.A. – Superstitiones and Religiones. The Construction of Religious Deviance in Rome (2nd Century BC – 2nd Century AD)
  • Dr. Marlis Arnold – Cult in Public, Cult in 'Hidden' Spaces: How Visible was Religion in So-Called Small Sanctuaries?
  • Christopher Degelmann, M.A. – Ritual as Citation. Scenes of Mourning and Supplication in Republican and Early Imperial Rome (3rd Century B.C. - 1st Century A.D.)
  • Dr. Valentino Gasparini – The Breatth of Gods. Embodiment, Experience and Communication in Everyday Isiac Cultic Practice
  • Prof. Dr. Richard Gordon – Religion and Personal Crisis: Curse-Tablets as ‘Lived Religion’
    Maik Patzelt, M.A. – Religious Specialists and Religious Experience in Ancient Rome
  • Dr. Georgia Petridou – Anchoring Innovation in the Cultic Cosmos of the Imperial Era: Alexandros and Aristides as Religious Moderators and Modernisers
  • Prof. Dr. Rubina Raja – Cults and sanctuaries of the Tetrapolis region
  • Dr. Anna-Katharina Rieger – Enlivened Spaces – Spatial Patterns and Social Interactions in Sacred Contexts of the Roman Near East
  • Prof. Dr. Jörg Rüpke – Individual Religious Acting between Legitimate Plurality and Deviancy
  • Benjamin Sippel, M.A. – The Quotidian and Social Life of the Egyptian Temple-Personnel in Roman Fayum
  • Csaba Szabó, M.A. – Sanctuaries in Roman Dacia. Materiality and Religious Experience
  • Dr. Emiliano Urciuoli – Forbidden Jobs: Making a Living as a Jesus Follower in the Roman Empire
  • Dr. Lara Weiss – Lived Ancient Religion in Roman Karanis: the Primary Space

Dernière actualisation: 8.03.2019

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