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Ancient Religion: text, image and practices

Our research on ancient religion spans across history, literature and linguistics to investigate the diverse ways in which religious thought and practice functioned and mattered in ancient Greek and Roman societies. We study the intersections of religion and ritual with, e.g., literature, politics, sport and space, focusing in particular on the Greek world, from the archaic to the Roman period.

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The healing sanctuary of Amphiareion at Oropos

Rebecca Van Hove works on religion in ancient Greece, with a particular focus on the connections between religion and law in oratory and epigraphy. She is currently completing a monograph on religious authority in the Classical Athenian democracy. A new project examines religious toleration and difference in ancient Greek and Roman social practice. She is also a contributor to the Collection of Greek Ritual Norms project.

Christina Williamson’s research focuses on sanctuaries, religious festivals and sacred landscapes. Her Deep Mapping Sanctuaries  project uses concepts of place-making, spatial narratives and deep mapping to understand how sanctuaries functioned as ancient festival hubs and which experiences they helped generate.

Onno van Nijf works on sport, physical culture and festivals in Hellenistic and Roman Greece. He also studies funerary epigraphy from Greece and Asia Minor. He leads a project on Religious Change in the Greek city of the Roman and Later Rome period as part of Anchoring Innovation.

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Fragment of ritual norm concerning sacrifices, Eleusis

Saskia Peels-Matthey’s current research examines the language of ancient Greek religion. Her NWO Veni-project Polytheism as Language uses insights from modern cognitive linguistics to investigate the identities of ancient Greek gods. She also has an ongoing interest in the lexical semantics of religious concepts, including the notions of piety and sacrality. She is also one of the founders and editors of the Collection of Greek Ritual Norms project.

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Sacrifice depicted on a bell-krater, late 5th cent BCE, Attica

Lidewijde de Jong’s NWO-funded project MARE focuses on the importance of cosmologies and belief systems surrounding death and afterlife in the interpretation of visual, material, and epigraphic remains of mortuary customs in the Roman East. Within this project, Tamara Dijkstra focuses on the ritual function of funerary inscriptions in Roman Pisidia. Bilal Annan studies the ritual setting of funerary portraits from Palmyra.

Some of Felix Budelmann’s research on ancient literature also concerns the study of religion, in particular questions of religious belief and thought.

PhD students currently working within this theme:

Last modified:10 January 2024 11.32 a.m.