A study of a specific topic in Mediterranean archaeology. Recent courses have treated such topics as Pompeii, the Archaeology of North Africa, and the Archaeology of Israel. May be repeated for credit with topic changes. Information on upcoming topics courses can be found on the department web page.
Fall Semester informationRebecca Schindler
310A: Tps:The Archaeology of Cult
Through investigation of the material remains of cult practice, this course seeks to understand how past human cultures interacted with the divine world. We will begin with a critical review of the major anthropological and archaeological theories on the interpretation of religion and ritual activity. Over the course of the semester we will apply these theories to the evidence from the ancient Mediterranean, from prehistoric settlements in Anatolia, to the Panhellenic sanctuaries of ancient Greece, to the temple complexes of the Roman world and the advent of Christianity. Cult sites in the ancient world not only served as loci for ritual performance, but also as places of political and economic power. Different categories of evidence -- from marble sculptures to the remains of animal sacrifices -- reflect the worship practices of diverse members of the community, challenging us to understand how ancient religion permeated all levels of society. The methodological problems inherent in the interpretation of the archaeological evidence for cult practices also present an opportunity for us to examine our own assumptions and biases about religion in non-monotheistic cultures.