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Title: Religion in the Classical Greek House: Sacred Spaces and Social Practices
Authors: Smagh, Hannah
Advisors: ArringtonFlower, NathanMichael T
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: citizenship
Subjects: Archaeology
Classical studies
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the material evidence for religious practice in the Greek house during the Classical and early Hellenistic periods, c. 500-275 B.C.E. In models of Greek religion, household religion has been described as polis religion in miniature or has had its existence disavowed altogether. Recently, these models have been critiqued for their failure to account for the agency of the household and the individual as well as religious activity that falls outside the purview of the polis, such as magic. Neither the models nor their critics, however, consider how the structure of the household was an organizing force behind daily religious activity. Instead of viewing religious activity as a “top-down” phenomenon, this dissertation argues that the household structured religious activity. It explores the means by which sacred spaces were constructed in the house and how these spaces interfaced with the social relationships within the household and between the household and society.I adopt a spatial approach to analyze the effects of portable objects, such as miniature altars and vessels, and multi-purpose architectural features, such as built hearths, to study how the practice of religion affected the physical and social landscape of the household. The first two chapters explore how these objects were used as physical anchors for ritual performance to create temporary and permanent sacred space within the house. The third chapter addresses the few stone courtyard altars in the archaeological record. It argues that the monumentalization of a permanent ritual space was a method of social display, demonstrating the homeowner’s membership in the religious community of the polis. The final chapter examines scenes of domestic ritual in Attic red-figure vase-paintings and suggests that these scenes were used in the construction of the social identity of both male and female citizens in Classical Athens. This dissertation argues that domestic religion was a tool for the negotiation of domestic space and for the navigation of social relationships within the household and between the household and polis. It suggests that household religion complemented polis religion, a cog in the wheel of civic religion rather than civic religion in miniature.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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