The Ritual Ecology of Archaic South-East Italy - a seminar by Dr Camilla Norman - Milton Keynes - Thursday June 13th 2019

Events > The Ritual Ecology of Archaic South-East Italy

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A lunchtime seminar at the Open University by Dr Camilla Norman from the Institute of Classical Studies; 13th June 2019.


Our understanding of the religious identities and behaviours of the indigenous populations of much of pre-Roman Italy is poor. This is especially true of the south, where there is virtually no epigraphic evidence and prior to Hellenic influence people did not typically worship in purpose-built environments, nor use idols, votives and other such cultic paraphernalia readily recognisable in the archaeological remains. Ritual activity took place in and around springs, caves, groves and hilltops, and probably in the homes of clan and kinship group leaders; it was likely embodied as much in everyday activities as through orchestrated ceremonies. 

There can be detected, however, a certain iconographic vocabulary shared across a number of cultures in 7th to 5th-century peninsular Italy almost certainly intended to evoke in the ancient viewer recall of contemporary ritual practices. The same images can repeatedly be found in confluence on objects in a range of media produced in various geographic and social contexts. When taken individually, the vignettes depicted on any one of these items ostensibly come from either the sacred sphere (processions, sacrifices, purification rites) or the secular (weaving, the grinding of grain), or from somewhere in between (funerary/martial games, ‘komast’ dancing). Yet the selection of images is clearly deliberate. When read together they can be understood as individual moments in time from the same ritual system: a specific phenomenon in non-Greek Archaic Italy, which may well have earlier roots. 

Using the concepts of ‘lived religion’ and ‘ritual ecology’, this paper seeks to uncover something of the ritual activity of pre- and proto-historic Italic communities, taking imagery on the Daunian stelae as its starting point.

The talk will begin at 1pm, and a sandwich/buffet lunch will be available from 12.30pm. If you have any special dietary or other requirements, or any questions about the event, please email the organiser Jessica Hughes (

The seminar will take place in Seminar Room 6 in The Open University Library. Come into the main glass door entrance, and turn left to find the lift and stairs to the second floor. There will be signs posted on the day.

This is a free event but spaces are limited, so please follow the link below to book your place via EventBrite.

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