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Religious dedications in ancient local languages of the Western Mediterranean - 18-19/05/2016, Rome (Italy)



Methods of communicating with deities have taken multiple forms throughout history. Before the adoption of writing, we can only identify various material offerings, such as statuettes and pottery. The later use of writing for sacred purposes marked a watershed in religious practice, since it gave rise to a number of new forms of religious expressions. Importantly, writing allows historians to access levels of nuances that can be used to reconstruct ancient worship practices more fully. The wide range of textual genres (speaking objects, prayers, public and private ex-votos, mention of different kinds of offerings) is clear evidence of these complex practices, as is the material inscribed (ceramics, tabulae, pedestals, rock inscriptions, instrumenta, etc.) as well as the place of discovery (private spaces, public sanctuaries). Finally, the inclusion of local cults in the framework of Roman religion gave way to a sort of homogenization of religious practice. Local identities can still certainly be glimpsed through the choice of vernacular language and traditional cult places, though the degree to which this is the case varies from region to region.

The approach to religious dedications in our conference is restricted to the local epigraphical cultures of the Western Mediterranean (i.e. Italy, Gaul, Hispania, Northern Africa). The types of communication should relate to the following issues: which social groups wrote dedications, what linguistic content and form was written in dedications (stylistics of formulae, pragmatics of inscriptions, ritual background), what was the process of composing and writing dedications, in what kind of environment they were deposited / exposed.

The aim of our conference is to follow the line of important collective works such as Anathema (1989-1990) and Dediche sacre nel mondo greco-romano. Diffusione, funzioni, tipologie (2009), especially taking into account two new trends in research, in order to achieve new typological hypotheses for this specific kind of texts. The growing importance of linguistic pragmatics in epigraphic and anthropological research on the ancient world permits us to establish new patterns of analysis for rituals and their written commemoration. Furthermore, the increasingly precise results of archaeological inquiries within the last decades shed new light on the cultic practices themselves, which should be evaluated in a renewed, multidisciplinary framework.


FECHA /DATE/DATA: 18-19/05/2016


LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Academia Belgica (Roma, Italy)


ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: M. J. Estarán, E. Dupraz (Université Libre de Bruxelles)







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