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Chronologies of Religious Evolution: Religious Forms, Cult Practices and Agents (2nd century B.C. - 1st century A.D.)

> Directors

– Nicole BELAYCHE:
・General Director [nicole.belayche@ephe.sorbonne.fr]
“Piety in Cult Practices: Images and Inscriptions” with Anne-Françoise JACCOTTET, Genève
“Mystery Cults” (mystèria, teletai, orgia, etc.) and Their Specialized Actors” with Francesco MASSA, Aix-Marseille
– Dan DANA: “The Religious Lexicon of Strabo”
– Sylvia ESTIENNE: “Perceptions of Banquets in Ritual Contexts” with Valérie HUET, Brest
– John SCHEID: “Pratiques cultuelles, sanctuaires et territoires : le cas des colonies romaines”
– Meriem SEBAÏ: “Aires sacrées à ciel ouvert en transition (tophets)” with Hedi DRIDI, Neuchâtel
– Stéphanie WYLER: “Des hommes nouveaux dieux : de la titulature hellénistique Neos à l’imitatio romaine” with Anne-Françoise JACCOTTET, Genève
– Dropbox CHRONOS : Thomas GALOPPIN (PhD candidate EPHE/ANHIMA)

> Participants

Permanent Members :

Nicole Belayche, Yann Berthelet, Louise Bruit, Dan Dana, Sylvia Estienne, Stella Georgoudi, Renée Koch Piettre, Jean-Claude Lacam, John Scheid, Meriem Sebaï, Stéphanie Wyler

PhD candidates :

Kevin Bouillot, Thomas Galoppin, Vincent Mahieu, Anne-Lise Pestel, John-Marc Piffeteau

Associate Members :

Audrey Bertrand, Gabrielle Frija, Valérie Huet, Francesco Massa, Ioanna Patera, Sarah Rey

> About

The CHRONOS project has progressively prepared for the next five years with the scholarly work and interpretive debates of previous researches, both by the team and outside it.

By the team

– The project is the result of scholarly works drawing on the conclusions of the GDRE “FIGVRA: La représentation du divin dans les mondes grec et romain” (European Research Group “FIGVRA: The Representation of the Divine in the Greek and Roman World”), 2008-2011, and on the historical utilization of the data collected by the inventory of Italian (and now Tunisian) cult places for the project Fana, delubra, templa (ANR FDT 2005-2009).
– Over a dozen scholars working on Greece and Rome, but also on Judaism in the Roman period, are faced to the same question with respect to their own dossiers. Roman historians working in Greek-speaking areas and Greek historians working on the Hellenistic period are dissatisfied with the current models of periodization and religious development. The so-called Hellenistic period (which, from Rome’s perspective, corresponds to its expansion across the Mediterranean basin) is neglected with respect to religious questions (except for religion and cities), since it is caught between two prominent, well documented periods.

In the scholarly world

– Several recent studies have confronted the question of “religious chronologies” (e.g., Ritual Dynamics and Religious Change, 2009) and religious “changes” or “mutations” (G. Stroumsa, 2005, English trans. 2009), but these generally privilege the imperial period, in the wake of the “new piety” illustrated in a seminal article by P. Veyne (1986).
– The question is embedded in a new interpretive context

a) Contemporary debates about the paradigms that “shape” the study of relations between Romans and indigenous peoples (in Roman Italy, in the provinces, and in the Latin and Roman colonies, for example), and the context of emergence of Christianity (according to a retroactive approach that never ceases to “color” studies in history of religions);

b) Specific dossiers of religious epigraphy that are relevant for the period under scrutiny (several of them, including some on Cos, festivals, priests, and others, have been addressed in recent studies in France and abroad);

c) The impact of the progressive establishment of the provincial administration in the Roman Empire, and the local (in cities) and regional changes that followed.

> Objectives

In order to break free from common interpretive models (polis religion, the “individualization” of religion, the rise of henotheism, or even “oriental” influences) and to prioritize realia before ultimately testing the models against the facts, CHRONOS will assess religious forms, cultic practices and agents to determine whether – and if so, when, which, why, and how, qualitatively and quantitatively – changes occurred over this period (late Hellenistic-early Roman). The chronological limits specified in the title are the main focus but serve a heuristic function. Both ends of the range will be determined ultimately by the conclusions reached in the respective dossiers.
Bringing together the “Hellenists” and “Romanists” of the team, CHRONOS’s goal is to identify in each of the dossiers, investigated as individual subprojects (see below), potential moments when shifts, evolutions, or even ruptures (?) occurred, and to question the traditional model of a linear progression as reconstructed by the historiography.

> Research Organization

A collective exploratory session (workshop on January 24-25, 2014) helped identify three main gates for tackling the topic:
* through the religious lexicon and its evolution,
* through types of ritual practices and actors,
* through the community framework of practices and cult spaces
These three broad questions will be asked on the basis of precise dossiers that constitute individual subprojects that seem relevant and promising a priori for the proposed question.
Responsibility for these subprojects will be taken by various experts in the group (cf. the project heads and the link for each topic below). The work will be carried out autonomously or collaboratively as necessary, from documentary workshops, open to doctoral students as a training, to international meetings with publication of the results.
This research project anticipates institutional collaboration with European scholars, who are already involved in developing the program: collaboration with Belgium through a PICS program (Vinciane Pirenne Delforge, FNRS/University of Liège) and with Switzerland with a PHC “Germaine de Staël” (Anne-Françoise Jaccottet, University of Geneva).

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