Essays On Religion And The Ancient World

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For Stavrianopoulou, processions should be understood as communicative events that perform social institutions as well as mediate them, whether these are military triumphs or funerary journeys.

Through their performance, processions constitute space and its limits; through their staging, processions create intense physical and emotional experiences which gave them meaning and generated social memory (both for actors and audience); and through this interplay between actor and audience, a community supportive of the ritual itself is formed.

43); however, despite my initial scepticism, I found this a stimulating attempt to integrate these categorisations with the archaeological evidence for processions and pilgrimages, and to identify and reconstruct the embodied elements of such journeys.

He should be applauded for highlighting the role that topographic analysis and survey techniques can play in revealing such ephemera as shoe hobnails and networks of ancient footpaths, for his sensitive use of ethnoarchaeological comparanda from Hindu pilgrimages in Nepal and India, and for his experimental participation in processions in order to enlarge his own imaginative and experiential perspectives. 60-70) outlines three devices used to communicate with deities in ancient Egypt – written speech, speech, and images – and in so doing highlights differentiations between public and domestic spaces, between acts intended to perpetuate offerings and those that were more ephemeral.

The first two look at physical embodiment, as demonstrated through the personal use of amulets and the wearing of ancient religious dress; the second two at more ephemeral aspects – dance, and the lived, internal interplay between gender and religious experience. 107-119) on dance and its accompanying music, an almost completely lost element of religious embodiment, encourages us to be satisfied that indirect evidence for performance space, the accoutrements of dancers and representations of dance add up to only a general understanding of the importance of the kinetic and acoustic elements of ancient religion.

Although we have no insight into 'specific kinetic language in a specific cultic context' (p.

Material symbols play a central role in communion-based ritual experiences, enabling the community to continue to exist in memory and imagination after the ritual has passed.

Part XI, Transformations, widens the geographical scope to include temperate Europe and Roman North Africa. 465-477) outlines the problems encountered in linking the ritual practices of temperate Europe (500 BCE-500 CE) as witnessed archaeologically with the textual accounts written by biased Roman or later Christian outsiders, going on to deliver an archaeological account of some elements of the ritual and cosmology of the northern Europeans.

He problematises the ways that the Roman festival calendar might reveal cultural or collective memory, reminding us to acknowledge the divergent personal experiences inherent in it, and how the selective destruction/preservation of monuments was part of a renewal and reinvention process, building and updating Rome's collective civic myth through the excision or valorisation of particular religious loci, because memory only matters for so long: 'as the hold of memory in lived experience weakens, history takes over' (p. In Part VII, entitled 'Expressiveness', Schörner's broad temporal and geographical look at anatomical ex votos highlights some of the differences between practice and belief in Greece, Anatolia, Gaul and Italy and raises questions about the place of these votives within differing systems of medicine.

Estienne's contribution is the most challenging, deconstructing our understanding of the lines between divine image, offering, and cult statue, and suggesting we think more deeply about how the Greeks considered idolatry, aniconism and the construction of normative identities in the ancient world.

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