Current Research Postgraduates
Miss Francesca Mazzilli
(email at email@example.com)
Beyond Religion: multidisciplinary approach to Roman Rural Sanctuaries in Syria and Lebanon
Syria and Lebanon are unique for their high number of analogous Roman rural temples. Their structures and inscriptions have been recorded throughout centuries - John Bankes 1816-1818, Butler 1903, 1909-1938, Krencker & Zschietzschmann 1938, Tchalenko 1953-1958, Dentzer 1986, Callot & Gatier 1999, Nourdigain 2005, especially for the epigraphy IGLS (Inscritpions greques et latines de la Syrie) by Waddington (1870) and Sartre (1970), and Prentice and Littmann 1903. However, travelers, historians and archaeologists have only considered Roman temples from architectural, ceremonial, and cultic perspectives (Ibid.), including recent scholars such as Stensaipair (2005). Historians have superficially addressed their socio-economic function. Dignas’ (2002) document centric study focuses on the economic power of Greek and Roman religious institutions in Asia Minor, including only Baitokaike temple in Syria. Sartre (1991) and Millar (1993), with similar approaches, consider the Roman East in general, with a cursory consideration of Syria and Lebanon.
This research will clarify the current understanding of more than one hundred Roman rural sanctuaries in Hauran (Southern Syria), Massif Limestone Calcaire (Northern Syria) and modern Lebanon with a critical, multidisciplinary, comprehensive synthesis of written, archaeological, architectural and topographical data.
The main research aims are to:
1) Investigate the Roman impact and persistence of local identity on the rural sanctuaries, from 100BC-AD400;
2) Identify the sanctuaries’ socio-economic role, their relation with cities, villages and rural lands and their impact on these landscapes.
The objectives will be:
1) A systematic analysis of local/Greek/Latin epigraphy, structures, layout of rural temples and their architectural decorations. This will produce the first comprehensive dataset of Roman rural sanctuaries. These data will shed new light on how (and if) Romans integrated with local/Greek traditions as elements indicating syncretism of diverse religious customs/identities. Published records will be the starting point for the data collection.
2) An analysis of the socio-economic aspects of the sanctuaries as a means of control and territorial exploitation. A re-examination of inscriptions, including Anatolian comparisons, ancient sources (Strabo) and documents (Debord 1982, Laffi 1971) will take place. Archaeological evidence for industrial/commercial activities, such as olive presses (Tchalenko 1953-58), shops and storage areas (Debord 1985, de Ligt 1993), will also be investigated.
The data will be used to construct a GIS model. Landsat (for environment and geomorphology) and CORONA imagery (1960s satellite photographs for identifying pre-modern landscape and archaeological features) will be used to identify relation of sanctuaries to villages, route-ways, water, land-use and geomorphology.
These elements will allow the reconstruction of the ancient religious panorama and its connection with/function within the landscape. Recently Hull (2008) has applied a similar methodology, without satellite images, to the study of monasteries obtaining original and innovative results.
Is supervised by
- Landscapes of Complex Society Research Group
- Ritual, Religion, Belief and Place Research Group