The Sanctuary Project |

Conference April 2019

CfP: Sanctuaries and Experience: Knowledge, Practice and Space in the Ancient World

Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, London

8th–10th April 2019


Sanctuaries—places that are permanently special, even when no rituals are taking place—are common, perhaps universal, products of human societies. The practices that are carried out in relation to them help to form, assert and reaffirm group identities through the accumulation of shared, often repeated experiences.

The Sanctuaries and Experience conference seeks to bring a diverse group of thinkers and practitioners together to discuss the ways in which sanctuaries, and the activities that took place around them, formed religious experience and reproduced religious knowledge across the ancient world. It will be the last major event of a five-year project funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation through an Anneliese Maier Research Prize held by Professor Greg Woolf (ICS) and led by him and Professor Jörg Rüpke (Erfurt), the primary aim of which is to establish conversations between a range of different disciplines to develop a better, more rounded, set of understandings of the religious function of ancient sanctuaries.

The ancient world we understand in a wide sense, and welcome submissions ranging from the Prehistoric to Late Antique, covering Europe, the Near East and North Africa as well as Greece and Italy. We expect some papers will focus more on individual experiences, including sensory dimension of the rituals that took place at sanctuaries, others on cognitive and even literary-historical kinds of knowledge. We hope some papers will deal with material culture, some with images, some with religious spaces, others with epigraphic and literary texts. At the centre we wish to place ritual practice, knowledge and experience as it took place in relation to sanctuaries.

We invite postgraduate students, early career researchers, and established academics to submit abstracts of c. 300 words by Friday December 14 to Please aslo include your name, affiliation and a very short biography. Selections will be made and announced by the end of January 2019.

Confirmed speakers include: Jaime Alvar (Madrid), Marlis Arnhold (Bonn), Katharina Reiger (Graz), Esther Eidinow (Bristol), Georgia Petridou (Liverpool), Jörg Rüpke (Erfurt), Katja Sporn (DAI, Athens), Tesse Stek (KNIR), Csaba Szabó (Sibiu).

Papers will be 30 minutes, with 15 minutes for discussion.

We intend to produce a volume from the conference so ask you to present material you will be free to contribute for publication.

There is no conference fee, however there will be a charge to cover the conference dinner should you wish to attend.

A number of graduate bursaries will be made available. Please contact the organizers for details.


Dr Ilaria Bultrighini

Dr Camilla Norman

Professor Greg Woolf