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The stuff of the gods : The material aspects of religion in ancient Greece

Matthew Haysom, Maria Mili, Jenny Wallensten

ActaAth-4°, no. 59

The “material turn” in the humanities and social sciences has brought about an expanded understanding of the material dimension of all cultural and social phenomena. In the Classics it has resulted in the breaking down of boundaries within the discipline and a growing interest in materiality within literature. In the study of religion cross-culturally new perspectives are emphasising religion as a material phenomenon and belief as a practice founded in the material world. This volume brings together experts in all aspects of Greek religion to consider its material dimensions. Chapters cover both themes traditionally approached by archaeologists, such as dedications and sacred space, and themes traditionally approached by philologists, such as the role of objects in divine power. They include a wide variety of themes ranging from the imminent material experience of religion for ancient Greek worshippers to the role of material culture in change and continuity over the long term.


Matthew Haysom, Maria Mili & Jenny Wallensten, ‘Introduction’, 7–14
Robin Osborne, ‘Stuff and godsense’, 15–24
Maria Mili, ‘Why did the Greek gods need objects?’, 25–34
Cécile Durvye, ‘Of things and men in the sanctuary of Aphrodite (Delos). Does the content of a sanctuary define the personality of the god?’, 35–45
Hedvig von Ehrenheim, ‘Incubation rituals. Creating a locality for the divine?’, 47–55
Petra Pakkanen, ‘Movable sacrality. Considerations on oscillating sacredness of material objects relating Greek sanctuaries’, 57–68
Gunnel Ekroth, ‘A room of one’s own? Exploring the temenos concept as divine property’, 69–82
Tyler Jo Smith, ‘Resistant, willing, and controlled. Sacrificial animals as “things” on Greek vases’, 83–95
Jenny Wallensten, ‘Decisive dedications. Dedications outside of sanctuary contexts’, 97–109
Caitlín E. Barrett, ‘The affordances of terracotta figurines in domestic contexts. Reconsidering the gap between material and ritual’, 111–132
Matthew Haysom, ‘Investigating the instability of religious material culture in Greek prehistory. The case of “bench shrines”’, 133–148
Catherine Morgan, ‘Adding buildings to Early Iron Age sanctuaries. The materiality of built space’, 149–166
Charlotte R. Potts, ‘An external view. Architecture and ritual in central Italy’, 167–180
Gina Salapata, ‘Ambiguity versus specificity in modest votive offerings’, 181–191
James Whitley, ‘Writing to the gods? Archaic votives, inscribed and uninscribed’, 193–213
Nassos Papalexandrou, ‘The asethetics of rare experiences in early Greek sanctuaries’, 215–223
Troels Myrup Kristensen, ‘Dephi and the omphalos. Materiality, replication and the mythistory of the Sanctuary of Apollo’, 225–234
Caroline Vout, ‘The stuff of crowded sanctuaries’, 235–246
‘Index’, 247–248
The stuff of the gods

ISBN 9789179160685

Hard cover

248 pages

Published 2024

Language eng

Price from SEK 636