Theatricalising Memory: An Archaeological Approach to Religious Performance in the Roman World

Organiser: Valentino Gasparini (University of  Erfurt)
This session takes place on Thursday, 17 March 2016 from 09:00-13:00

Recent research has highlighted ways in which semantic memories are constantly recreated, allowing for the shaping of both collective and individual identities, and has raised questions about the role of rituals in the process of perpetuating cultural and individual memories. The performance of religious rituals offers a means for social groups to reaffirm their cohesion through a « dramatic » experience which energizes shared emotional states and reinforces the individually lived participation through a symbolically-articulated communication. The bodily arousal of emotions represents an efficient strategy which allows communities to recover an experience of direct continuity with foundational (either real or imagined) events even situated in a remote past.

This session aims to investigate, through the magnifying glass of archaeology, how this memorialisation was constructed in the Roman world through kinesthetic forms of dance, gesture, and/or theatrical performances, potentially combined with the spoken or written word. A very selective group of scholars from different methodological backgrounds and with a wide range of expertise in archaeology as well as in history of religions have been invited to explore this challenging issue.

Session Programme

This session is made up of six papers.

1. The Theatre-Temple Pattern in the Italic Sanctuaries
2. Inside Out: Spectacularisation of Grief and Joy in Isiac Hilaria
3. Activating the Circus
4. Stirring Scenes: Performing Religion in the Roman East
5. Choreographing Religious Spectacle: Processional Movement at Ostia
6. Performing the Rituals of Imperial Cult in Late Antique Rome
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