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date: 22 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is concerned with ancient sanctuaries and their spaces as places where rituals were performed. It discusses various aspects of sanctuaries and their materiality, and the ways in which reconstructing ritual practice and performance may be approached through archaeological and written sources, which give an insight into sanctuaries and their use. Different types of sanctuaries, primarily from the Roman imperial period (the late first century bce to the fourth century ce) from a variety of locations across the Roman Empire are considered. Furthermore, a number of cults that had specific types of sanctuaries connected to them are presented, such as those of the so-called Mystery cults of, for example, Mithras and Isis. Architectural layouts as well as embellishments, such as decorations and ritual objects, are discussed in brief also, in order to explain ancient sanctuaries as places where ritual experiences occurred. Furthermore, theoretical approaches, among those, the ‘lived ancient religion’ approach, are addressed in order to situate the ways in which such approaches may further our understanding of ancient ritual spaces.

Keywords: architectural layout, cults, embellishment, experiences, Mystery cults, private, public, ritual practice, Roman religion, sacrifice

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