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Beyond religion : cultural exchange and economy in northern Phoenicia and the Hauran, Syria

This PhD research challenges current scholarly debate on religion and religious architecture during the Roman Empire by offering a new understanding on the role of rural sanctuaries and a new approach on the subject. It re-evaluates the socio-economic significance of rural sanctuaries, and of the society that they represent, to a regional level and in a wider context of the Near East. This research can be seen as innovative because scholarly work on Syrian sanctuaries from the Roman period has, up to the present day, mainly discussed their religious connotations, including their architecture and deities, with no reference to their potential socio-economic significance. Furthermore, these studies have mostly focused on sanctuaries in cities rather than rural centres, and a comprehensive analytical overview is still lacking. This thesis demonstrates that a comprehensive analysis of archaeological, iconographic and written evidence placed within a historical and socio-economic context and landscape can provide us with a different perspective on rural cult centre, i.e. their central social and economic role in their region and within the Near East. The rural cult centres that this study looks at are from the pre-provincial to the provincial period (c.100BC-AD300) from the northern Phoenicia and the Hauran, both in Syria. Their location at cross points between neighbouring and more distant cultures makes these areas an interesting and revealing object of study to fully comprehend the social significance of rural cult centres and the connections of the study areas with other cultures. Furthermore, both study areas present direct and indirect evidence of economic activities associated with rural sanctuaries. The central socio-economic role of rural cult centres is argued because of the following aspects revealed in this study. They are: their independency from the nearby cities and from political authorities that controlled the study areas, the plurality and diversity of worshippers, their economic self-sufficiency and their organization (with personnel in charge of temple’s administrative and economic affairs), and the connections of the society of the study areas with distant cultures of the Near East.
Date January 2014
CreatorsMazzilli, Francesca
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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