Essays On Religion And The Ancient World

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451-461) argue that instead of trying to use material culture to tell us about meaning, we should look at how it was used to construct ritual and create a sense of religious belonging.

What is important is what material culture does in group-making processes to generate socially meaningful categories, and how it acts as a 'community identifier' for the 'imagined communities' they discuss.

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.

167-180), and demonstrating the immense value of precise archaeological work in illuminating local and regional variations in religious practice.

For me, the emphasis on the multiple senses as part of ancient religious life is welcome. 144-154) is entitled 'watching ritual', she rightly argues that watching cannot be separated from other sensory experiences of ritual – hearing/listening, smelling, touching and tasting – although she falls into the trap of judging the quality of smells. This may be the case for much ancient religious experience, but nevertheless this section would have benefited from discussion of truly 'wild' religious spaces, beyond the built or controlled environments of humans – mountaintop altars, the sea, or naturally numinous places such as the Cennet ve Cehennem (Heaven and Hell) sinkholes in Cilicia.

Preview[The Table of Contents is listed below.][Disclaimer: Anna Collar works as part of Troels Myrup Kristensen's 'Emergence of Sacred Travel' project in the same department as Rubina Raja.] It is clear from their introduction what the editors set out to achieve in this collection of 35 essays: in line with their research agenda at Erfurt, "Lived Ancient Religion", their aim is to overturn the traditional bias towards the systematic and the dogmatic in the treatment of religion in antiquity, and focus instead on the material evidence that shaped the 'practices, expressions, and interactions' (p.4, p.

446) of religion as people experienced it in the past.

41-59), in which he delivers a taxonomy of ritual activities.

He acknowledges both the reductionism inherent in such a process and the flexible nature of the categories of data (p.


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