Religious Individualisation: Archaeological, Iconographic and Epigraphic Case Studies from the Roman World [Hardback]

Ralph Haeussler (Editor); Anthony King (Editor)

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ISBN: 9781789259650 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2023 | Language: English 336p, H241 x W171 (mm) B&W imgaes

Religious Individualisation


The Roman world was diverse and complex. And so were religious understandings and practices as mirrored in the enormous variety presented by archaeological, iconographic, and epigraphic evidence. Conventional approaches principally focus on the political role of civic cults as a means of social cohesion, often considered to be instrumentalized by elites. But by doing so, religious diversity is frequently overlooked, marginalizing ‘deviating’ cult activities that do not fit the Classical canon, as well as the multitude of funerary practices and other religious activities that were all part of everyday life. In the Roman Empire, a person’s religious experiences were shaped by many and sometimes seemingly incompatible cult practices, whereby the ‘civic’ and ‘imperial’ cults might have had the least impact of all. Our goal therefore is to rethink our methodologies, aiming for a more dynamic image of religion that takes into account the varied and often contradictory choices and actions of individual, which reflects the discrepant religious experiences in the Roman world. Is it possible to ‘poke into the mind’ of an individual in Roman times, whatever his/her status and ethnicity, and try to understand the individual’s diverse experiences in such a complex, interconnected empire, exploring the choices that were open to an individual? This also raises the question whether the concept of individuality is valid for Roman times. In some periods, the impact of individual actions can be more momentous: the very first adoption of Roman-style sculpture, cult practices or Latin theonyms for indigenous deities can set in motion long-term processes that will significantly influence people’s perceptions of local deities, their characteristics, and functions. Do individual choices and preferences prevail over collective identities in the Roman Empire compared to pre-Roman times? To examine these questions, this volume presents case studies that analyze individual actions in the religious sphere.

Table of Contents

1. Preface: Ralph Haeussler, Anthony King, Francisco Marco Simón, Gunther Schörner 2. Religious Individualisation: an approach to religious developments in the Roman world 3. Discrepant Behaviour: on magical activities in the Latin West 4. Individual religious choice: the case of the mystery cults 5. Sons and mothers: the matres, the military and religious choice in Roman Britain 6. Pre-Roman deities along the north-eastern Adriatic: continuity, transformation, identification 7. Private devotions at temples in Central and Eastern Gaul 8. Tradition, diversity and improvisation in Romano-British cremation burials in south-east England 9. Individual choices in burial ritual and cult activity in and around the Iron Age and Romano-British town of Baldock, Hertfordshire, UK 10. Religious individualisation in extremis: human remains from Romano-Celtic temples in Britain and Gaul 11. Indigenous arae and stelae: symbolic landscapes and individualisation in north-west Roman Hispania 12. Indigenism and identity shaping. The case of the Irrico group in central Spain 13. The religious construction of ‘household’ in Roman Italy: the case of the Casa dei Vettii 14. Types of Interpretatio and their users in the Keltiké: explicationes and translationes vs. identificationes and adaptations 15. Religious Individualisation in an entangled world. How to pick and mix favourite deities in the Roman Keltiké

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