Architecture of the Sacred: Space, Ritual, and Experience from Classical Greece to Byzantium
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In this book, a distinguished team of authors explores the way space, place, architecture, and ritual interact to construct sacred experience in the historical cultures of the eastern Mediterranean. Essays address fundamental issues and features that enable buildings to perform as spiritually transformative spaces in ancient Greek, Roman, Jewish, early Christian, and Byzantine civilizations. Collectively they demonstrate the multiple ways in which works of architecture and their settings were active agents in the ritual process. Architecture did not merely host events; rather, it magnified and elevated them, interacting with rituals facilitating the construction of ceremony. This book examines comparatively the ways in which ideas and situations generated by the interaction of place, built environment, ritual action, and memory contributed to the cultural formulation of the sacred experience in different religious faiths.
question that is well worth asking is what are the ideological implications of any given scholarly tradition’s turn to “ritual” and in the strange but frequent elision of “ritual” and “religion.” Clearly, in prehistory, there is a worrying potential primitivism in “ritual” as a particular concern of the “ancient mind,” a primitivism which one fears secularist scholarship may generally wish to apply to religion in any period. Such a position may be defensible by argument, but it ought not to be
Illustrations 3.2 Samothrace, reconstructed plan of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. 3.3 Samothrace, Sanctuary of the Great Gods, Theatral Circle, restored plan of the first, second, and third phases of construction. 3.4 Samothrace, Sanctuary of the Great Gods, section through the reconstructed Theatral Complex. 3.5 Samothrace, Sanctuary of the Great Gods, Theatral Complex, restored plan of the fourth phase of development. 3.6
to the sanctuary of the Great Gods at Samothrace, donated by Ptolemy II. Those friezes, however, are continuous Ionic friezes, while this one is Doric; unusual here are the carvings of Eleusinian symbols over the triglyphs, in addition to those in the metopes.32 Especially striking in its design are the pair of caryatids that framed the inner part of the gateway, bearing the sacred kistai on their heads, with their arms raised up to secure them. One of the first monuments at Eleusis to be noted
Chaniotis, A. 2005. “Ritual Dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean: Case Studies in Ancient Greece and Asia Minor,” in Rethinking the Mediterranean, ed. W. Harris, Oxford, pp. 141–66. Eade, J., and M. Sallnow, eds. 1991. Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Pilgrimage, New York. Elsner, J., and I. Rutherford, eds. 2003. Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods, Oxford. Goldhill, S., and R. Osborne, eds. 1999. Performance Culture and Athenian Democracy,
approaches to the study of ancient religion.7 Although hardly the prime purpose of this emphasis on ritual studies, the alignment of material-cultural with historical approaches that has been part of its effect is certainly to be warmly welcomed.8 The birth of a new emphasis on ritual in archaeologically inflected studies from the 1980s, associated with such signal contributions as Colin Renfrew’s The Archaeology of Cult and Simon Price’s Rituals and Power,9 took place at the same time as a