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Title: Fire on the Mountain: A Comprehensive Study of Greek Mountaintop Sanctuaries
Authors: Belis, Alexis Marie
Advisors: Childs, William
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Altar
Subjects: Archaeology
Classical studies
Art history
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Mountains dominate the Greek landscape, recognized as sacred places from the Bronze Age on, inspiring the dedication of sanctuaries on their summits. Both the archaeological and literary records preserve evidence of cult activity on mountaintops, offering insight into the religious practices that took place in these sanctuaries. Even so, with the exception of the Minoan peak sanctuaries on Crete, little attention has been devoted to the study of mountaintop sites elsewhere in Greece, and to their specific role in Greek religion and society. Using the archaeological and literary evidence, this dissertation explores the topographic and religious significance of mountaintop sanctuaries in ancient Greece, and the consequent patterns of ritual activity. This study is organized into five chapters and a site catalog. A summary of the Minoan peak sanctuaries on Crete is presented first, followed by an examination of the perception of mountains and mountaintop sanctuaries in Greek religion and society. Turning to the individual sanctuaries, an outline of the sites included in the catalog precedes a more detailed examination of mountaintop sanctuary features and the ritual and social activities with which they were associated, including altars and sacrifices, votive offerings, drinking and dining, festivals and athletic competitions, and temple building. The final chapter focuses on the relationship between topography and sacrificial practices. The archaeological evidence for the existence of cult activity on mountaintops is often limited to the remains of burnt sacrifice, represented by a deposit, sometimes extensive, of ash and burned animal bone fragments mixed with pottery and votive objects. Although many Greek sanctuaries eventually marked places of sacrifice with a stone-built altar, in the case of mountaintop sanctuaries, the accumulated remains of repeated animal sacrifice alone frequently formed a permanent feature in the sanctuary. Literary sources support a conclusion that such "ash altars", while not a feature of all Greek mountaintop sanctuaries, were associated predominantly with ritual activity on mountaintops. Overall, this dissertation is intended to serve a broad purpose, as a comprehensive compilation of the available archaeological and literary material related to these sites, and as a resource for the future study of mountaintop sanctuaries.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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