Sacred Landscapes in Antiquity: Creation, Manipulation, Transformation [Paperback]

Gian Franco Chiai (Editor); Ralph Häussler (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789253276 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2020 | Language: English 448p, H280 x W216 (mm) b/w

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Sacred Landscapes in Antiquity


From generation to generation, people experience their landscapes differently. Humans depend on their natural environment: it shapes their behaviour while it is often felt that deities responsible for both natural benefits and natural calamities (such as droughts, famines, floods and landslides) need to be appeased. We presume that, in many societies, lakes, rivers, rocks, mountains, caves and groves were considered sacred. Individual sites and entire landscapes are often associated with divine actions, mythical heroes and etiological myths. Throughout human history, people have also felt the need to monumentalise their sacred landscape. But this is where the similarities end as different societies had very different understandings, believes and practises. The aim of this new thematic appraisal is to scrutinise carefully our evidence and rethink our methodologies in a multi-disciplinary approach. More than 30 papers investigate diverse sacred landscapes from the Iberian peninsula and Britain in the west to China in the east. They discuss how to interpret the intricate web of ciphers and symbols in the landscape and how people might have experienced it. We see the role of performance, ritual, orality, textuality and memory in people’s sacred landscapes. A diachronic view allows us to study how landscapes were ‘rewritten’, adapted and redefined in the course of time to suit new cultural, political and religious understandings, not to mention the impact of urbanism on people’s understandings. A key question is how was the landscape manipulated, transformed and monumentalised – especially the colossal investments in monumental architecture we see in certain socio-historic contexts or the creation of an alternative humanmade, seemingly ‘non-natural’ landscape, with perfectly astronomically aligned buildings that define a cosmological order? Sacred Landscapes therefore aims to analyse the complex links between landscape, ‘religiosity’ and society, developing a dialectic framework that explores sacred landscapes across the ancient world in a dynamic, holistic, contextual and historical perspective.

Table of Contents

    1. Ralph Haeussler and Gian Franco Chiai  
    2. Interpreting sacred landscapes: a cross-cultural approach
Section 1 – Manipulation of sacred sites: monumentalising natural features
2) Francesca Diosono
Inside the Volcano and into the trees. The sacred grove of Diana Nemorensis in archaic Latium between the literary and archaeological Sources
3) Maria João Correia Santos
Sacred landscape and rock-cut sanctuaries of Iberian Peninsula: the principal of duality or harmony of complementary oppositions
4) Leticia López-Mondéjar
The transformation of cult places during the Roman expansion in the Iberian South-east (third–first century BC)
5) Ruth Ayllón-Martín
Sacred spaces in nature: myth and reality in Celtiberia
6) Csaba Szabó
Nature as sacred landscape in Roman Dacia
7) Eris Williams Reed
Environments and gods: creating the sacred landscape of Mount Kasios
Section 2 – Transformation of sacred landscapes
8) Lucia Alberti
Over the rainbow: places with and without memory in the funerary landscape of Knossos during the second millennium BC
9) Christine Morris and Alan Peatfield
Material forms and ritual performance on Minoan peak sanctuaries
10) Louise Steel
Transforming landscapes: exploring the creation of a Sacred Landscape in north-east Cyprus at the Beginning of the Late Bronze Age
11) Francisco Marco Simón
Monumentalisation of watery cults in Tarraconensis and Lusitania
12) Anthony C. King
Romano-Celtic temples in the landscape: Meonstoke, Hampshire, UK, a hexagonal shrine to Epona and a river deity on a villa estate
13) Sarah McHugh
Renewal and Reconfiguration: Interpreting the Ilissos area of Athens in the second century AD
14) Rita Sassu and Rosa Di Marco
The impact of economics on sacred landscapes: Hoarding processes in Attic sanctuaries 625–475 BC
15) Marco García Quintela and José Carlos Sánchez Pardo
Landscape, Christianisation and Social Power in late Antique and early medieval Galicia
Section 3 – Myth & Memory: landscapes invested with meaning
16)  María Cruz Cardete
Pan’s sacred landscapes in Classical Arkadia
17) Gian Franco Chiai
Creating Sacred Landscapes in Roman Phrygia: the cases of Laodicea on the Lycus and Aizanoi
18) Florian Schimpf
On urban rock sanctuaries of eastern Greece
19) Julie Baleriaux
Where do rivers dive? Giving meaning to subterranean rivers in Ancient Greek thought
20) Elena Chepel
Performing sacred landscapes: worship and praise of land in Greek drama
21) Maxwell Stocker
Integration and Interaction in Egyptian Non-Royal Sacred Landscapes: A Study of the Tomb-Chapel of Neferhotep (TT50)
22) Marco Palone
Desacralised landscapes: Nilotic views in the Ethiopian Stories by Heliodorus
23) Viviana Sia
The temple of Contrada Marafioti in Locri Epizephiri: a new approach
Section 4 – Experiencing Sacred Landscapes
24) Thomas Jansen  
The sacralisation of landscape as memory space in medieval China: ‘Ascending Mount Xian with several Gentlemen’
25) Andy Valdez-Tullett
‘God is on the journey too.’ Sacred experiences on the road in Late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age southern Britain
Section 5 – Landscape, Identity & Social Cohesion
26) Katharina Zinn
Creating and conserving sacred landscapes: Abydos and Amarna – Keeping the spirit alive?
27) Anna-Katharina Rieger
Spatialising sacralised places: Landscape as analytical category for understanding social relations and spatial interaction of Graeco-Roman sanctuaries in the Hauran
28) Matteo F. Olivieri
Sacred landscape manipulation in the sanctuary of Apollo of Delos: Peisistratus’ purification and the networks of culture and politics in the sixth-century BC Aegean
29) Selga Medenieks  
Cyrus the Great of Persia and the acculturation of religion at Sardis
30) Anastasia Amrhein
Presence in the landscape: encountering Neo-Assyrian kingship and divinity ‘from the Upper Sea to the Lower Sea’
31) Gilbert R. Burleigh  
Temples, treasures, heroic burials and deities: A sacred landscape bounding Iron Age and Romano-British Baldock
32) Ralph Haeussler
Memory, identities, transformations: the sacred landscapes of the Volcae Arecomici and the colonia Nemausus
33) Daniele Salvoldi
(Re)Constructing the sacred landscape of Nubia in the early nineteenth century

Reviews & Quotes

"The 33 chapters give the volume an impressive chronological range, with case studies from the Bronze Age to the medieval period, as well as good geographical coverage. Editors Ralph Häussler and Gian Franco Chiai have curated an engaging volume that digs deep into the complexity of sacred landscapes."
Claire Nesbitt
Antiquity (18/07/2022)

"This volume offers fascinating case studies on ways the interplay of natural and built environments underwrote the construction and contestation of past sacred landscapes."
Rachel Hendrick

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