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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter frames sacrifice and votives as examples of the trans-human practices of ritualization and reciprocity, through which humans seek to negotiate relationships with non-obvious beings. It considers how these acts of reciprocity were deployed intuitively in the everyday lives of ancient Mediterraneans. It goes on to consider how ritualized acts of reciprocity were part of a wide-ranging discursive arena that encompassed far more than simply gifts for the gods. Sacrifices and votives, and the dense discourse surrounding them, bear all the complexities, conflicts, and competitions of the human social networks of which they are a part. The chapter argues for a scholarly distinction between the practice of sacrifice itself and the complex competitive discourse surrounding it, a discourse in which only a very small percentage of ancient Mediterraneans were engaged and interested.

Keywords: costly signalling, offering, reciprocity, ritualization, sacrifice, votive

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