In ancient Sicily and Southern Italy, people of different cultural backgrounds and thus diverse religious ideas encountered each other in varying constellations. In these situations, ritual spaces in their various forms (especially sanctuaries and necropolises) and the question of their socio-cultural contextualization become particularly relevant. The workshop will focus on material culture and the question of its (active) role in shaping religious action and social communication. What possibilities and limits for the analysis of structural arrangements, architectures, installations, and (semi-)mobile objects in their different find contexts arise for the reconstruction of ritual practices and/or the self-perception and representation of the actors?
Special attention will be given to the concept of 'Lived Ancient Religion' (according to Jörg Rüpke & the Max Weber Centre Erfurt), which focuses on the agency of individuals and groups in opposition to institutionalized religion as the framework of religious expressions. In which social spaces and situations do ritual sites emerge, establish, institutionalize and change? The approach offers the advantage of being able to explicitly address dynamics at work and sheds light on the potential for change in the ritual spaces and practices. Directly linked to these questions, is the possible instrumentalization of religious practices in the context of social group formations. Social groups represent communities where a sense of belonging is created based on commonalities between the members, but also on the differentiation from other groups. These affiliations can be based on a wide variety of characteristics such as religion, age, gender, origin, language, and/or social status. Their form of representation can be freely chosen and used. One (but not the only) possible approach to analyzing such group representations can be found in the interplay between (local) traditions and (urban) innovations. We invite contributions that explore the analytical potential of materiality and religion on different spatio-temporal scales employing case studies from Sicily and Southern Italy. Since ritual spaces cannot be explained by their religious 'logic' alone, a particular focus lies on the question of how they relate to contemporary social structures. To create an opportunity for diachronic comparisons and discussions, workshop contributions may range from the Early Iron Age to Roman-Hellenistic Times.