Continuity and Change: Religious Identities in the Levant from Alexander to Muhammed

Continuity and Change: Religious Identities in the Levant from Alexander to Muhammed

Rubina Raja, Aarhus University, Denmark Achim Lichtenberger, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
Danish Institute in Damascus
Syrian Arab Rep.
Vom - Bis
25.03.2010 - 27.03.2010
Achim Lichtenberger

The theme is situated at the interface between the study of texts, architecture and religion. Cultural, political and religious attitudes were reflected in ancient architecture, inscriptions, written
sources, decorative elements and sculpture. An abundance of sources testify to the dynamics of religious life and the relationship between religious groups allowing a nuanced study of the multifacetted and continuously developing religious identities encountered in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East.
The contributions of this conference will address questions of continuity and change in religious life of the region in the period between Alexander’s conquest of the East until the time when the region came under Arab control following the conquest of Muhammad. One focus will be on the one hand on the impact of continuity and on the other hand on the impact of change as reflected in the material and literary culture of the period.
Representations and expressions of religious identity in sacred architecture and texts are the central concerns of the papers. Each will explore questions related to these representations and expressions through the written evidence, the inscriptions and the architectural and functional development of temples, sanctuaries and early churches including themes such as definition, creation, dissolution, interconnections between sacred sites, access and audience as well as continuity and change.

Through the presentation of material which is not usually accessible across disciplines and the subsequent publication, individual scholars will gain new perspectives on the region on which they are working.
With a point of departure in the development of urban, sub-urban and extra-urban sanctuaries, churches and early mosques as well as the associated cults and religions and the written sources
associated with them, the contributions will explore the shaping and development of the religious identity of individuals, groups and societies and will assess how these categories of religious identity were interrelated and shaped by a variety of circumstances.
The aim of the conference is to bring scholars together from a variety of disciplines who work on the Near East in various capacities, archaeologists, historians, epigraphers as well as linguists in order for them to present their research connected to the theme “religious identity”. The idea of this interdisciplinary forum is to encourage the dialogue and discussion between the disciplines as well as lay the ground for further themes to be explored.
Despite implications of geographic distance and political boundaries, the cultures of the Near East from the Hellenistic period throughout the Roman period were dynamically interconnected and mutually dependent; religious identity is at the core of such expressions of relationship and difference. In this period a number of formative elements, culturally, politically and religiously speaking, dramatically changed (“Romanization”, “Christianization”) resulting in profound religious transformations.

The aim is also to investigate the role of the sanctuaries and later the churches and earliest mosques in the zone between culture, religion and society in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East. By
bringing together historians, archaeologists and philologists the aim is to explore the immense potential in diachronic studies of sacred space and religious identity. Through the development of cross-regional and integrative methodologies it is the intention that this conference will open up new research questions and agendas for all these subject areas.


Thursday 25th of March
14.00-15.00 Introduction to the conference by the organisers
Rubina Raja, Aarhus University, Denmark
Achim Lichtenberger, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany

Welcome address from the cooperating partners
Stefan Lehmann, DAI Research Cluster 4.1 (Antike Heiligtümer: Kontinuität und Brüche), Germany
Engelbert Winter, Exzellenzcluster ”Religion und Politik”, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany

Chair: Ted Kaizer
15.00-15.45 Margherita Facella, University of Pisa, Italy
Daimones in Commagene: Continuity or Change?

15.45-16.30 Frank Daubner, Stuttgart University, Germany
Gymnasia in the Hellenistic and Roman Near East: between Integration and Segregation.

16.30-17.00 Coffee break

17.00-17.45 Graeme Clarke, Australian National University, Australia
The Jebel Khalid Temple-Continuity and Change

17.45-18.30 Michael Blömer, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
Images of Priests from Northern Syria in Roman Times

18.30-19.00 Discussion

19.00 Reception and dinner

Friday 26th of March
08.00-08.30 Coffee and Tea

Chair: Frank Daubner

08.30-09.15 Julien Aliquot, IFPO, Damascus, Syria
Hauts-lieux et sanctuaries villageois de la Syrie côtièr

09.15-10.00 Inge Nielsen, Universität Hamburg, Germany
The Assembly Halls of Religious Groups in the Ancient Near East. A Comparative Study

10.00-10.15 Coffee break

10.15-11.00 Peter Alpass, Durham University, England
From Nabataea to the Province of Arabia: Changing Religious Identities and the Cult of Dushara

11.00-11.45 Cristina M. Acqua, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany
Imperial Representation in the Coinage of Provincia Arabia

11.45-12.00 Coffee break

12.00-12.45 Klaus S. Freyberger, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI), Rome
Religious Continuity and Change in Southern Syria from the Hellenistic Age to the Imperial Period

12.45-14.30 Lunch

Chair: Maurice Sartre

14.30-15.15 Annie Sartre, IFPO, Damascus
Dieux nouveaux dans le Hauran à l’époque romaine

15.15-16.00 Jacqueline Dentzer-Feydy, CNRS Nanterre, France
New Archaeological Research at the Sanctuary of Sî’ in Southern Syria: the Graeco-Roman Divinities invite themselves to Baalshamîn

16.00-16.45 Thomas M. Weber, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz, Germany
Religious Identities reflected by Marble Sculptures from the Syro-Phoenician Coast

16.45-17.00 Coffee break

17.00-17.45 Michal Gawlikowski, University of Warsaw, Poland
Bel of Palmyra

17.00-18.30 Ted Kaizer, Durham University, England
Continuity and change: religious identities in Dura-Europos

18.30-19.15 Discussion

19.30 Dinner

Saturday 27th of March
08.30-09.15 Coffee and Tea

Chair: Volker Menze

09.15-10.00 Lucinda A. Dirven, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Cult Images in Cities of the Syrian-Mesopotamian Desert during the first three Centuries AD

10.00-10.15 Coffee break

10.15-11.00 Beat Brenk, University of Rome 1, La Sapienza, Italy
From Temple to Church in Jerash

11.00-11.45 Jakob Engberg, Aarhus University, Denmark
Conversion, Apologetic Argumentation and Polemic (amongst friends) in 2nd- century Syria. Theophilus´ad Autolycum

11.45-12.00 Coffee break

12.00-12.45 Dorothée Sack, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
St. Sergios in Resafa – Worshiped by Christians and Muslims Alike

12.45-14.30 Lunch

Chair: Lucinda Dirven

14.30-15.15 Volker Menze, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
The Transformation of a Saintly Paradigm: Simeon the Elder and the Legacy of Stylitism

15.15-16.00 Nasser Rabbat, MIT, USA
Politicizing the Religious: Or How the Umayyads Co-opted Classical Iconography

16.00-16.15 Coffee break

16.15-17.00 Christian Högel, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Naming the Syrian Goddess and the Arab God. The Ethnic Identity of Deities before Julian the Apostate

17.00-18.30 Closing discussion

19.30 Dinner

Sunday 28th of March
Excursion to Hauran for conference participants


Rubina Raja
Achim Lichtenberger

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