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Economies of Sacred Travel - 17-18/09/2015, Aarhus (Denmark)

This symposium, organized by Anna Collar and Troels Myrup Kristensen under the auspices of the collaborative research project “The Emergence of Sacred Travel (EST): Experience, Economy, and Connectivity in Ancient Mediterranean Pilgrimage” funded by a Sapere Aude grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research (, aims to shed light on the economic role of sanctuaries and festivals in ancient pilgrimage. Looking at many standard introductions to the ancient economy, the economy of the sacred goes virtually unnoticed (e.g. Kevin Greene, The Archaeology of the Roman Economy, Berkeley 1986). Yet during pilgrimages, festivals and fairs, sanctuaries effectively functioned as economic as well as religious and cultural hubs. The field of economic history was thus fundamentally changed with the publication of Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell’s The Corrupting Sea (Malden, MA, 2000), in which they reconsider the relationship between subsistence, landscape, economy and the sacred in the ancient world, and develop the notion of the sacralized economy. It is fifteen years since its publication: making this an appropriate moment to (re-)assess the question of how we understand the nature and development of sacred economies in Antiquity. This symposium explores economic aspects of the experience of visiting sanctuaries, (cf. Pine and Gilmore, The Experience Economy, Cambridge, MA 2011), and is organised to loosely follow the experience of a pilgrim, through five sessions that each cover the chronological spectrum from the Greek period through to Late Antiquity:

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 11-12/09/2015

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Aarhus University Conference Centre, University of Aarhus (Aarhus, Denmark)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Anna Collar; Troels Myrup Kristensen; Sanne Hoffmann

INFO: web - - -



Thursday 17 September

09.00 Introduction by the organizers

Session I: Economies of Going (Chair: Troels Myrup Kristensen) This first session sets us on our sacred path – examining the economies of how people in Antiquity prepared for and undertook pilgrimage (considering issues such as means of transport and infrastructure) – as well as the experience and emotional resonance of undertaking sacred travel.

09.15 Anna Collar, Aarhus: Motion/Devotion: On Walking as a Topos of Sacred Work

10.00 Coffee

10.30 Barbara Kowalzig, New York: Festivals, Fairs and Foreigners: Towards an Economy of Inter-Religious Contact in the Mediterranean longue durée

11.15 Marlena Whiting, Oxford/Istanbul: Braided Networks in the Late Antique Holy Land: The Spatial and Economic Relationship between ‘Sacred’ Travel and ‘Worldly’ Infrastructure

12.00 Lunch and coffee (for speakers)

Session II: Economies of Gathering (Chair: Anna Collar) The second session examines what happens when people gather at sanctuaries: thinking about seasonality, pilgrims’ lodgings, opportunities for socialising and the impacts that a sacred space has on the rural/urban environment, including in terms of local food, water, waste disposal, social systems and law-keeping.

13.00 Hélène Aurigny, Aix-en-Provence: Gathering in the Panhellenic Sanctuary at Delphi: An Archaeological Approach

13.45 Nicola Daumann, Aarhus: Looking for Pilgrims in Jerusalem

14.30 Robin Jensen, Notre Dame: Shrines and Services: Housing Visitors to North African Pilgrimage Sites 15.15 Coffee

Session III: Economies of the Human/Divine Interface (Chair: Jakob Engberg) This session explores the interaction with the divine being through the act of sacrifice, engagements with an image, the hearing of an oracle, the epiphany itself, and the economic activities that support these fundamental acts – including the provision of sacrificial animals, incense, the space for dreamers to dream, or the offering of votives.

15.45 Esther Eidinow, Nottingham: ‘What will you give me?’: Economies of Oracular Consultations

16.30 Fred Naiden, Chapel Hill: The Monetization of Sacrifice

17.15 Louise Blanke, Aarhus: Pilgrimage and the Monastic Economy: Hagiographies, Donations and the Making of Sacred Space Friday 18 September

Session IV: Economies of Sacred Production (Chair: Louise Blanke) The production of sacred items and souvenirs was a key part of the economic activity of sanctuaries, and this session sets out to explore contexts of production and consumption, as well as the activities of creation, sale and use of such sacred artefacts, and their meanings.

09.30 Sanne Hoffmann, Aarhus: Bought or Brought? Trading Greek Votive Figurines

10.15 Coffee

10.45 Troels Myrup Kristensen, Aarhus: Ephemeral Economies: Production and Exchange in Greek and Roman Sanctuaries

11.30 Béatrice Caseau, Paris: Food and Pilgrimages

12.15 Lunch and coffee (for speakers)

Session V: Sacred Economies beyond the Sanctuary (Chair: Jens Krasilnikoff) The final session plays with ideas of returning home – exploring different aspects of this nostos and nostalgia: the journey itself, souvenirs or relics, the changed notion of a pilgrim’s identity, and the long-term impact of pilgrimage on trade dynamics, local economies, and the interaction between city and sanctuary.

13.15 Marietta Horster, Mainz: Hellenistic Festivals: Aspects of the Economic Impact on Cities and Sanctuaries

14.00 Tesse Stek, Leiden: The Role of Sanctuaries in the Economic Integration of Italy under Roman Rule 14.45 Coffee

15.15 Max Ritter, Mainz: Do ut des: The Function of Eulogia in the Byzantine Pilgrimage Economy

16.00 Response and discussion led by Barbara Kowalzig, New York

19.30 Conference dinner (for speakers), Spiselauget, Skovgaardsgade 3

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