Research Group Conference- Contextualizing the Cult of the Southern Levant

Expressions of Cult in the Southern Levant in the Greco Roman Period: Manifestations in Text and Material Culture

Event date: May 19 - May 21, 2014

    Oren Tal (Tel Aviv University)
    Zeev Weiss (The Hebrew University)



    The coming of Alexander the Great ushered in many changes within the southern Levant. The subsequent period saw many upheavals, including the Greek and Roman conquests, the Jewish Revolts, and the gradual Christianization of the "Holy Land." Throughout this period, various local cults and cultic places dotted the landscape. These cults included an assortment of "pagan," Jewish, Samaritan and Christian ritual behaviors. Although undergoing processes of profound change, the cults maintained much of their older identities, while simultaneously interacting with each other. This conference seeks to examine these processes both synchronically and diachronically, along three different axes – cultic places, personnel, and objects. The common denominator shared by these three axes is the people whose beliefs and practices shaped the religious behavior in the Greco-Roman Southern Levant. The invited papers will investigate whether cultic practices formed a coherent cultural system. They will consider the co-existence and competition of  the different religious systems, analyzing them in terms of continuity, discontinuity, and change over an extended period of time, roughly from Alexander the Great to the Imperial integration of Christianity (ca. late 4th c. BCE – early 4th c. CE). The approaches presented in this three-day conference will be eclectic and interdisciplinary, combining archaeological, philological, historical and art-historical analyses of the multiple bodies of evidence.