Sacred Nature: Animism and Materiality in Ancient Religions [Hardback]

Nicola Laneri(Editor); Anna Perdibon(Editor)

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ISBN: 9781789259179 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: Material Religion in Atiquity | Volume: 2 | Year of Publication: 2023 | Language: English 336p, H9.4 x W6.7, B/W
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Sacred Nature


Sacred Nature: Animism and Materiality in Ancient Religions is the second volume of the series Material Religion in Antiquity (MaReA). The book collects the proceedings of the international online workshop carrying the same title organized by CAMNES, SoRS on 20–21 May 2021. Sacred Nature brings together the perspectives of scholars from different disciplines (archaeology, anthropology, iconography, philology, history of religions) about the notions of nature, sacredness, animism and materiality in ancient religions of the Old and the New World. The contributions highlight various ways of understandings the relationships that occurred between human beings, animals, plants, rivers, deities and the land in the religious life of ancient societies. In particular, each chapter explores entangled aspects of the perception of nature and its other-than-human inhabitants, and contributes to readdress some notions about nature, personhood/agency, divinity/sacrality, and materiality/spirituality in ancient religions and cosmologies. In this line, the book seeks to promote a starkly inter-disciplinary and religious-anthropological approach to the definition of ‘sacred nature’, especially engaging with the analytical category of animism as a fruitful conceptual tool for the investigation of human-environmental relations in the ancient religious conceptions, representations and practices. Dialoguing with animism and drawing upon the question on how an ancient religion happened materially, the volume presents key case studies that explore how nature and its non-human inhabitants were understood, represented, engaged with and interwoven in the sacred and sensuous landscapes of ancients.

Table of Contents

1) Sacred Nature: Animism and materiality in ancient religions. An introduction
Anna Perdibon
2) Before nature: Perspectives from new animist world-making
Graham Harvey
3) Watercraft as hybrid assemblages in the western Arctic
Erica Hill
4) Structures of meaning in rock art of the Mongolian Altai: Signs of liminality
Esther Jacobson-Tepfer
5) Bird and forest persons and wilderness spaces in the old-Babylonian Sumerian stories of Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh
Laura Feldt
6) King-Tree or Tree-King? On the metaphorical, iconographic interplay in ancient Assyria
Davide Nadali
7) In mantic and hostile lands: Surveillance and mimesis by divination
Seth Richardson
8) Falling short: What failures to fulfil obligations say about the responsibilities of other-than-human creatures in the Hebrew Bible
Mari Jørstad
9) Constructing sacred nature: Sulphur waters, springs and divine rivers in Sicily before the Greeks
Massimo Cultraro
10) The dawn of the Potnia. Reception and reinterpretation of an archetypal model in protohistoric peninsular Italy
Valentino Nizzo
11) Nymphs or trees? Some remarks on the ‘animistic’ interpretation of Homeric hymn to Aphrodite, vv. 256-272
Doralice Fabiano
12) Hey, ‘human animal’, what’s wrong with you? Suggestions from Sanskrit sources toward an ecological and natural history of humanity’s perverted relationship with ‘nature’
Federico Squarcini
13) Conclusions
Nicola Laneri

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