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.
Current Semester InformationRebecca Schindler
310A: Tps:Archaeology of Cult
Topics:Archaeology of Cult: Sanctuary and Sacrifice in the Ancient Mediterranean World
How did the ancient Greeks and Romans worship their gods? What does it mean to be polytheistic? How did the concept of the divine develop from the Mediterranean Bronze Age to the early Christian period? Through investigation of the material remains of cult practice, this course seeks to understand how past human cultures interacted with the divine world. From prehistoric peak sanctuaries on Crete, to the Panhellenic sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi, to the temple complexes of the Roman world, we will consider how location, architecture, and votive dedications communicate meaning. Cult sites in the ancient world not only served as loci for ritual performance, but also as well 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.
There are no prerequisites for this course. The evidence explored comes from the disciplines of Classical Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Art History, and Religious Studies. Students majoring and/or minoring in those fields are encouraged to contact the instructor for more information. For student majoring in Classical Studies, this course provides the opportunity to fulfill parts 2 and 3 of the writing in the major requirement.