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Religion and Ritual

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the relationship between religious practices and the built environment, and how ritual and ceremony shaped movement through early cities. It explores how ritual and ceremony inscribed meaning onto the urban landscape, and how this dialogue fashioned religious activity in cities over time. It focuses on the cities of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, but also looks at comparative evidence from other early cities, including those of Mesoamerica and China. The following themes are considered: the spatiality of religion in early cities; the temporality of religion in early cities; the religious organization of cities; and religious communities in urban environments.

Keywords: religious practices, cities, ceremony, urban landscape, ancient cities, ancient Mediterranean, Near East, Mesoamerica, China, religious organization

Religion is a slippery term. Whether we follow Durkheim's definition, that religion is ‘a set of beliefs and practices by which society represents itself to itself’, or we approach religion as a modern classification of an element of ancient life which ancient peoples might not recognize as distinct, no facet of life in early cities was unrelated to religion. Religious practice was one element in early urban organization, and a complex relationship between culture, power, religion, space, and society was what gave rise to the city itself.1 This chapter will consider the relationship between religious practices and the built environment and how ritual and ceremony shaped movement through early cities. It will also explore the ways in which ritual and ceremony inscribed meaning onto the urban landscape, and how this dialogue fashioned religious activity in cities over time. This chapter will focus on the cities of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, but will also include comparative evidence from other early cities, including those of Mesoamerica and China.

One of the tasks facing those wishing to study early urban environments is how to reconcile the diverse evidence. This evidence includes ancient documentary sources, visual representations, and archaeological remains. Each of these presents a different aspect of ancient towns, and often the topographies are not reconcilable: the physical and the literary city were not necessarily one and the same. Cities were the foci for many religious practices, not only serving the needs of inhabitants but often also becoming places of pilgrimage by others. Cities are a useful scale at which to examine ritual and ceremony because they allow for an assessment of spatial patterning, and of the ways in which the religious life of the city was in dialogue with or constituent of other aspects of urban living.

This chapter will examine religion in early cities, and how cities shaped religion, by considering several themes. First, the spatiality of religion will consider where religion happened in early cities. It will then discuss the temporality of religion, and how religious calendars and festivals formed a framework for urban daily life. Space and time come together in the next section, which studies the religious organization (p. 182) of cities, how religious considerations shaped early urban forms, and looks at religious movement through and between cities in the form of festivals and pilgrimages. Finally, this chapter looks at urban religious communities, and how diverse religious communities coexisted within urban spaces, or made urban space a contested locale.

The Spatiality of Religion in Early Cities

Religious spaces in early cities, both those recovered archaeologically and those known from texts, are one of the key ways in which we can seek to understand how religion functioned in early urban environments. The most obvious physical evidence for religion in early cities, of course, are sanctuaries themselves (see Liverani on the ubiquity of temples, above, Ch. 9). Sanctuaries are found in all early cities, but their form varied enormously. Mesopotamian temple complexes, an exclusively urban phenomenon, were large, included a number of structures, and had a role that encompassed much beyond what would now be considered ‘religious’, into the political, administrative, and economic spheres (see above, Ch. 2).2 The altar at which sacrifices were performed was the only indispensable element of Greek and Roman sanctuaries, and there was great variety amongst sanctuary forms, which could range from grand temples within bounded temenoi, to the pervasive religious topography of the city with simple altars in public spaces.3

Ancient religion might conjure images in the modern mind of the Parthenon and Pantheon, but religion infiltrated so many aspects of ancient urban life as to be inextricable. Generally, there is no ‘secular’ space from which we can differentiate the religious. Beyond sanctuaries themselves, religion was pervasive throughout urban environments. Each city had a patron deity. Processions, which formed part of religious festivals, of marriages and funerals, inhabited the streets. Shrines collected at crossroads. City boundaries were also ritual boundaries. Civic buildings, including archives, law courts, and meeting places, usually had their own patron deities. Households too were under the protection of gods, worshipped inside the house at family shrines, or embodied at the hearth.4 Daily life and time itself were structured by the rhythm of the calendar of festivals held throughout the year.

One of the ways in which urban space acquired its religious connections was in the performance of rituals and ceremonies. From some of the earliest cities, religious festivals held in public spaces were one of the key events that formed ‘place’, and created sites of collective memory within cities. ‘Place’ is a locus of lived experience, not just a backdrop to human activity, but somewhere which has meanings that have become attached to it through the activities which have happened there and the people that inhabit it, meanings which accumulate over time.5 In Mesopotamia at Babylon, the New Year's (p. 183) festival of Akitu involved the parading of images of the deities, possibly the only time during the year in which these images were visible in a public space.6 Such occasions were an opportunity not only to display the gods but for a collective experience between members of society in a shared space, space that then took on meanings associated with that experience. The importance of place in Roman religion, too, was crucial from its earliest periods. A well-known example from historical sources is an episode reported by Livy, writing in the 1st century ce, of Rome after the sack by Gauls in 390 bce. Livy has the general Camillus give a speech which rejects the call to move the capital from Rome to another site, and the cornerstone of his argument is that the cults and gods and rituals are tied to specific places (5.52.2). On African early centres as foci of cult, see above, Ch. 4.

The limits of cities were often invested with religious significance, and city boundaries or fortifications were often also ritual boundaries. Babylon had many city walls, including inner city walls and the outer defences, later described by Herodotus as being so wide that a four-horse chariot could ride, and turn, upon them (Hdt. 1.179). These walls not only protected the city, but separated it from the countryside, where barbarians, ghosts, and others roamed.7 The symbolic and religious significance of city boundaries can also be seen in the pomerium of Rome, a sacred enclosure linked in myth to the city's founding. The pomerium was demarcated physically on the ground by the imperial period, and this sacred boundary remained significant, and continued to be physically maintained, long after the city of Rome sprawled out far beyond this limit. In some ways it marked the boundary between the Roman and non-Roman, and when Augustus banned Egyptian cults within the pomerium, it was not out of hostility to foreign religious practices, but to emphasize that which was most Roman, in a time of turmoil, and use this to stress Roman identity.8

Cities were also the home of the gods. This could mean a city was under the protection of a patron deity, as Athens under that of Athena, the goddess having won the affection of the city in a contest with Poseidon. In Mesopotamia, cities were the dwelling place of the god, and if a city's god was absent in Mesopotamia, either metaphorically or literally, when the sculpture of a god was physically captured by an enemy, the city was reported to fall into chaos. Conversely, military defeats were recorded in texts as the departure of the gods from their patron city. The city of Babylon itself, according to the 12th century Creation Epic, was built for the god Marduk as his reward for ascendancy over the other gods. When Marduk's statue was missing from Babylon, the New Year's festival could not take place.9 Just as all cities had a patron deity, the city itself could become divine, in its personification. Thus we have sculpted reliefs showing Roma, the personified Rome, and the female Cyrene, or Antioch with her mural crown appearing in sculpture which embodied the city's virtues and created the city itself as something which could be worshipped.10

Religious activities and festivals could also produce contested spaces in cities. For instance, the festival of the Thesmophoria, part of the cult of Demeter in Athens and elsewhere, inverted gender norms by creating women's spaces in public places rather than in the home.

(p. 184) The Temporality of Religion in Early Cities

Ancient calendars were religious in structure, and punctuated by religious festivals, giving urban life its annual rhythm, and coordinating the rhythm of daily life with that of the gods and of the natural world.11 Festivals, broadly, tied together the calendar, the gods, the political (for instance in the issuing authority of the calendar), and the natural. The New Year's festival at Babylon, whose timing included the spring equinox, embodied the time of creation, being cyclical in its annual repetition, and demonstrated the eternal in the presence of the temple.12 Beyond the formalization of time in calendars, the repetition of religious rituals was a way in which quotidian existence was bookmarked and structured by religious activity. Sacred time bled into daily life in myriad ways. For instance we might consider the production in Athens of black-figure amphorae which was associated with the festival of the Panathenaia, and how such production of the ceramic vessels and their contents would have been generated by an increase in the labour of craftsmen and farmers.13 The repeated religious actions of the festival calendar thus reaffirmed social actions well beyond the religious sphere.

Festival days were not rare: the combined total of annual and monthly festivals at Athens amounted to 120 days of each year being demarcated for religious activity at a community level. The rhythms of life generally were integrated with religious rhythms—Athena's festivals at Athens were tied to the grain cycle, as well as being linked to the annual movement of the constellations visible in the night sky.14 Because the calendar was based around the city's religious festivals, each Greek city had its own, and they served to structure daily life and reinforce community identity, dividing urban time not only by lunar months but also into spaces between religious festivals.15

All early cities had a foundation myth, on which they built their religious legitimacy as a social entity and as a locale in the landscape. This was one of the bases on which urban identity was constructed, and by which a city was distinguished from others. In Rome, time was measured ab urbe condita, from the foundation of the city. This legendary founding of Romulus and Remus was one of the touchstones used by Roman society to define its identity by reference to its past, and a way in which the physical city was rooted in the legendary one. The myth emerged at precisely the time, in the 4th and 3rd centuries bce, when Rome itself was creating orthogonally planned colonies.16 And while we cannot know if haruspices, religious officials who interpreted the entrails of animals, were often genuinely responsible for deciding the location for new cities and their temples (Vitruvius, On Architecture I.4), it is noteworthy enough that a 1st-century writer would report that they were instrumental to a city's foundation, alongside considerations such as temperature, air quality, and water supply. We do know that votive deposits were a part of the creation of new urban centres, and that city foundations were religious as well as practical events.17

(p. 185) The Roman calendar, known from many cities’ copies, listed the festivals which made up the year. These documents, which included festivals from Rome's deep past, not only listed festivals, but also controlled when public bodies, such as the courts and senate, could meet. The priests that delineated the calendars thus ensured a religious control of public time.18 By the mid-4th century ce, a Codex-Calendar of the city of Rome lists pagan holidays and Christian holidays, as well as the Depositions of Bishops and Martyrs, brought together by a common aristocratic culture. Christianity would come to dominate by the late 4th century, and old festivals disappeared from a calendar which now included Easter. While some pagan festivals were tenacious, and the boundaries between Christian and pagan blurred, urban life increasingly became dominated by the Christian preferences of the emperors.19

The Religious Organization of Cities

The boundaries of cities were not the only way that religion had an impact on the form of cities. The movement of processions, for instance, was one way in which ritual activity was shaped by, and shaped, the topography in which they occurred. The processional way at Babylon, for example, led from the New Year's temple outside the city and formed a long straight thoroughfare that passed through the Ishtar gate to the Marduk temple complex within the city. The route was a key part of the procession that happened as part of the New Year's festival, which not only marked the New Year, but also marked Marduk's place as patron deity and the king as his high priest. This was probably the only time that the city's inhabitants would see the statue of the god or the king, and the procession included statues of deities from other cities, conveyed on chariots, as well as war booty and offerings. The city was not only the backdrop to the procession as it occurred, but was also the reminder of it after it had finished. Inscriptions on the side of paving slabs along this route, invisible to those walking above, recorded that this, the street used for Marduk's procession, was paved with limestone by King Nebuchadnezzar.20 The physical city, state, and religious power, were inextricable; such processions reinforced social cohesion, demonstrated authority, and imbued the streets with meaning (see above, Ch. 2).

Religious processions, which often formed an important part of broader religious festivals, were one way in which meaning was inscribed onto urban topography. Conversely, movement itself could be formative in the development of physical urban topography. Religious processions within cities were one means by which civic and religious authorities could display their power. For example, at the Roman city of Ephesus in Asia Minor, a long Greek inscription of the early 2nd century ce, that of Salutaris, details among other things a procession in which statuettes are carried along a specific route through the city at certain points throughout the year. The statuettes include those of Roman emperors, the legendary founders of the city, and the city's patron goddess Artemis. Such processions not only displayed the gods, but were a (p. 186) means by which knowledge of Ephesian religious heritage and civic institutions was transmitted across generations, as is probably evidenced by the fact that the participants in the procession were largely ephebes, adolescent males. The procession described in the Salutaris inscription happened frequently, and the procession was a place-making practice. For instance, when parts of the ritual performance of the procession took place in certain parts of the city, it followed a topography which enacted the history of Ephesus in reverse, starting in the state agora and ending near the site of its mythological foundation.21 Just as the procession inhabited the city's existing ritual, mythological, civic, and historic landscape, it also added to these, becoming part of the urban landscape itself.

Greek sacrificial processions which moved from the margins to the centre of the city, such as the Panathenaia, symbolically conquered the urban space as they moved through the polis. Others, such as Dionysiac processions, moved from the town outwards, to, for example, liminal sanctuaries, inverting this formula by leading followers from the civic spaces of the urban environment into wilder spaces.22 Some cults linked the city and its territory, like that of Demeter; the processions held during the annual festivals of the Eleusinian mysteries moved from the city of Athens to Eleusis, fourteen miles outside Athens’ gates.23 The Panathenaic Way of Athens, a thoroughfare with its eponymous festival, traced a path through the agora, the civic centre of the city, before mounting the Acropolis, the city's religious focal point. The famed Parthenon marbles are generally thought to show parts of this procession and the many participants, from those bearing offerings, to civic officials and the gods themselves.24 Such processions through the city brought together many elements of the population, showing an idealized version of the populace, from civic leaders to artisans, displaying and solidifying hierarchies within the community.25 Greek religion was a communal activity, and ‘the polis constituted a formal expression of religious cohesion’.26 Festivals like the Panathenaia allowed the participation of otherwise marginalized groups that were part of the polis, including women and resident foreigners. Processions allowed the physical engagement of religious communities, between their members, and between those members and the urban built environment.

The route and form of processions could be shaped and constrained by urban forms, but it is likely that they also shaped urban environments as well. For instance, the colonnaded streets in eastern cities of the Roman world such as Palmyra have been interpreted as material crystallization of processions, with processional ways becoming monumentalized over time.27 In Athens, the Propylaia, the monumental gateway to the Acropolis, was constructed partly to frame the Panathenaic procession as it mounted the Acropolis.28 At Rome itself, processions are reported from an early date. The triumphal processions of Rome were related to the form of the urban environment, with the route drawing significance from local places and spaces, and the city itself then becoming the site of memory of such processions.29 Beyond having an impact on the built environment, the physical, bodily, process of moving through a city, repeated over time, was a means of transmitting social memory, as was the practice of inscribing and using a time-reckoning system, as discussed above.30

(p. 187) Processions were not the only way in which ancient urban topography became entwined with ancient religion. Religion had an impact on settlement within urban zones, and probably on the layout of planned towns. At Palmyra in Syria, the original settlements that would come to form the Roman period city were nucleated around sanctuaries: the eventual topography of the town preserved the memory of these irregular settlements in the plan of its streets and buildings. The city's plan also preserved to a certain extent the chronology of the arrival of different cults at the site, with local and Mesopotamian cults in the older part of the city and more recent arrivals on the outskirts.31 The Marduk temple at Babylon, beyond being simply part of how the city was organized, conceptually became interchangeable with the city itself.32

Rome was organized by Augustus using religion as a basis: regions of the city were divided into vici, or neighbourhoods. In the centre of these were compitum, crossroads, which had shrines to the Lares, the tutelary spirits of the neighbourhood. Neighbourhood religious practices are also evident in the altars that dotted cities like Pompeii, many of which have paintings of the Lares above them, and which seem to have marked the boundaries between vici.33

If we turn to early cities in Mesoamerica, it has been argued that Maya city layouts were cosmologically significant, and that the civic plans were created so as not just to embody political authority but also the universe (with the city's axes representing the paths of the sun and the Milky Way), giving urban space sacral power.34 The plan of Teotihuacán, in central Mexico, has been argued to have been conceived to deliberately convey the worldview of its founders. The central site in the basin of Mexico, the city was many times larger than any other in the region, reaching its peak population with as many as 100,000 inhabitants by the 3rd century ce. Its plan includes the division of the city by a canalized river which separated a ‘watery underworld’ in the south and, in the north, ‘the earthly representation of the passage from the underworld to the heavens’, with the Sun pyramid at its centre in the civic-ceremonial core of the site.35 The orientation to which many structures of the city conform is 15.5 degrees east of the astronomic north, which is probably linked to the sacred calendar's astronomical qualities.36

Cities are always, to a certain extent, an imago mundi, a representation of the cosmos, in that their structures and layout reproduce the beliefs of their inhabitants.37 Ancient Chinese cities have also been argued to have a deliberate cosmic symbolism in their layout, and ceremonial centres were the precursors and hearts of cities. Religious ceremonies were a key activity in China's earliest cities, and it is significant that Chinese city plans, with controlled walled areas, were structured so as to place the ruler in the spatial and physical seat of ritual and political power. The four sides of the city were the earthly counterpart to the square universe, and the parts of the city were heavily imbued with cosmological significance (see above, Ch. 6).38

The cities of ancient Egypt, too, had such symbolism in their plan.39 In Thebes, Egypt's southern royal capital, considerable building work was carried out during the reign of the pharaoh Amenhotep III in the 14th century bce. This included modifications of the city that were related to two annual festivals, both of which included processions: (p. 188) the Festival of Opet and the Festival of the Valley. At Karnak, which played a role in both festivals, elaborations were made to the temple façade and the processional ways. The topography of Thebes as a whole seems to have been conceived of as a cosmogram, with its monuments representing different elements of the cosmos. The Nile divided Thebes into halves representing the terrestrial and celestial; the festivals, whose processional routes crossed the river, linked these.40 The city as a whole thus linked the earthly world with that of the heavens; making such urban modifications was one way rulers could cement their own power and display their relationship to the divine, using the physical built environment to monumentalize their worldview, which ritual activities and processions brought to life. Thebes is not the only example of the religious nature of Egyptian settlements—Akhenaten's captial Amarna was founded in the 14th century bce, and this capital was planned, in part, to celebrate the focus of Akhenaten on the worship of a prime deity, Aten. In the stelae which bounded the city, the Pharaoh demarcated the entire space of the city as sacred to Aten, a city of palaces, tombs, and temples.41 Overarching plans in which cities were imago mundi were the exception, however, and it was the mundane, quotidian, religious practice that had a real impact on urban landscapes, through festivals, processions, and other facets of religious life.

Movement, such as that of religious processions, was not only important within cities, but also between them. Networks of cities also played a part in the religious and political life of cultures. For instance, the Panhellenion, a network of cities established in the 2nd century ce under the Roman emperor Hadrian, played on perceived mythological connections between Greek poleis and centred on the worship of the deified emperor. It was a cultic network of cities that also created and promoted economic and cultural ties between them.42 Some early cities acted as sites of pilgrimage; pilgrimages, like festivals, took place at certain times in the year, or during particular seasons, and so movement between cities also had a religious rhythm. Hatra was an important Mesopotamian city in the first few centuries ce, and its very reason for existing seems to have been its function as a religious centre:43 many temples have been discovered there, as well as cultic objects, inscriptions with an overwhelmingly religious character, and at the city's centre a walled and fortified sanctuary, which served a regional nomadic population and to which pilgrimages were made.44

In earlier Mesopotamia the city of Nippur, like Babylon, was a religious centre, associated with the god Enlil. Pilgrimages were made to the city, and its character as a holy centre seems to have been the central reason it survived from the 5th millennium bce into the Islamic era, despite the lack of any real political or economic dominance. The tenacity of its religious life can be seen in the incredible longevity of some of its temples, including that sacred to the goddess Inanna, whose history can be traced over several thousand years.45

Representational evidence can also illuminate religion in early cities. A large mosaic found in a small church in Arabia, and known as the ‘Madaba map’ preserves representations of the cities of the Near East in late antiquity. Dating to the 6th century ce, it depicts Jerusalem as situated within a world of cities.46 The cities and smaller towns on the mosaic are shown from above, nestled within their walls, with their central (p. 189) monuments depicted, including the colonnaded street running through Jerusalem itself. The mosaic might have been drawn on maps intended for pilgrims, and it displayed the sacred geography of the region. Movement between cities was not only about moving through space, but between places, and the importance of cities as religious places is demonstrated on the mosaic. The sacred landscape of late antiquity was a world of cities, and representations of cities were potent enough symbols to warrant paving church floors, laying out for the view of the faithful the religious world they inhabited.47

Religious Communities in Urban Environments

In many cities of the ancient world, great numbers of different cults and religious practices coexisted. This was true even into the period in which some major cults were monotheistic, including Judaism and Christianity. In Dura-Europos, on the Syrian middle Euphrates, the 3rd century ce saw a synagogue, a Christian house-church, a Mithraeum, and a number of Mesopotamian and local cults including those of Zeus Megistos and Atargatis all being practised within the city at the same time. While some of these religious communities were exclusive in their membership, there is no evidence that these communities did not otherwise coexist within the city walls, and there is no evidence that these communities were segregated in daily life. Some residents partook of multiple cults: for example, the community of merchants and soldiers that was resident in the city of Dura-Europos but came from the city of Palmyra across the Syrian steppe not only worshipped its own ancestral gods, but was also involved in Greek and Roman cults.48

The synagogue of the Jewish community at Dura-Europos was at a minimum bilingual, and texts were found in both Greek and Aramaic.49 Latin inscriptions are also known from the site, including from within religious structures used by the Roman military which was present there in the 3rd century, during which time the Christian and Jewish communities were worshipping in their respective structures. All of this points to a multilingual and multicultural city with many cults coexisting. At Dura-Europos, rather than a city plan which reflected a particular religious outlook, as with several of the sites discussed above, there is a relatively homogenous plan which masks the religious diversity that can only be recognized from a more microscopic analysis.50 This is not to say that religion did not make itself visible in Dura's urban landscape, and indeed the towers incorporated into most sanctuaries made them visible throughout the city.51

While such religious pluralism seems to have succeeded in some cities, it failed in others. This was the case in Roman Alexandria, where Jews were segregated to particular parts of the city, and where anti-Semitic riots occurred in the 1st century. Jews were then denied access to the theatre and market, and the public spaces of the city became the arena for humiliation of their leaders. Transgressions on the segregated urban space were brutally punished.52

(p. 190) Religion also played other roles in communities. For instance, the sacrifice of animals as part of urban festivals not only honoured the gods and brought communities together, but enabled access to meat, an expensive and calorie-rich commodity, for a much broader part of the community than would otherwise be able to afford it. The Panathenaia, for example, included slaughter of cattle on a large scale, and fed the participating citizens. Such civic sacrifices of animals, thusia, provided occasions for communal eating, both reaffirming civic bonds between participants and the bond between the dedicants and the gods.53

In late antiquity, the way in which Christianity adapted to urbanism was one of the things that ensured its survival, and some cities survived precisely because of the existence of the Church. Eastern cities, as opposed to those of Western Europe, were more successful in the late antique period, and while the physical character of cities was transformed in this region, their urban character was often preserved well into the Islamic period (see below, Ch. 14 on Islamic cities). Some important urban religious sites remained in use over many centuries: in Damascus, a 1st-century Roman temple to Jupiter, itself built on an earlier cult site, was transformed into a church of St John the Baptist in the 4th century, and in the 7th century when the city was taken by the Arabs, Christians and Muslims both worshipped at the site. It eventually became the Umayyad mosque as it stands today, and the mosque still incorporates classical stonework of the Roman temple's enclosure in its outer wall, and a shrine to St John the Baptist within.54


Religion was key to the development and form of early cities. Religious sanctuaries and temples were central parts of the urban landscape, and religion permeated many other aspects of urban living. Religious processions moved through the streets of cities as diverse as Babylon, Antioch, and Rome, each one unique but alike in the way the movement of people together shaped, and was shaped by, the city. Diverse religious communities could be found in some cities, as at Dura-Europos, but elsewhere, including Jerusalem and Alexandria, the coexistence turned to intolerance and violence.

This chapter has discussed religion in ancient cities, and to a great extent we cannot consider ancient religion without the city: Mesopotamian cities were centres of cult, and no temples are known outside them. In classical antiquity, too, despite a population that was overwhelmingly rural, Graeco-Roman cities were foci within a landscape which had many religious sites outside the urban environment; even supposedly rural sanctuaries depended on the city.55

The diversity of religions in early cities, and the differences between cities, is striking. Even within the Classical world, there is staggering variety, from Athens’ focal point on the Acropolis, to the temples neatly nestled in the orthogonal plans of the Greek cities in Magna Graecia, to Dura-Europos with its range of temples to Mesopotamian, Graeco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian deities scattered throughout the city. Mesoamerica, (p. 191) Mesopotamia, and the Mediterranean are not directly comparable in many ways, but it is notable that in many early cities it is possible to relate some aspect of the urban form writ large, whether in the layout of streets or the placement of temples and other structures, to underlying religious beliefs and religious practices.56 Processions as part of religious festivals were also a common form of communal religious activity. The civil population and the physical city were the body of ancient religion, the streets its veins, and the calendar and festivals its beating heart.


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                    (1.) George L. Cowgill, ‘Origins and Development of Urbanism: Archaeological Perspectives’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 33 (2004), 525–49.

                    (2.) Marc Van De Meiroop, The Ancient Mesopotamian City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 215.

                    (3.) John Pedley, Sanctuaries and the Sacred in the Ancient Greek World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

                    (4.) David G. Orr, ‘Roman Domestic Religion: The Evidence of Household Shrines’, Aufsteig und Nierdergang der römischen Welt, II.16.2 (1978), 1557–91; Karel Van Der Toorn, ‘Domestic Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia’, in Klass R. Veenhof, ed., Houses and Households in Ancient Mesopotamia. Papers Read at the 40e Recontre Assyriologique Internationale Leiden, July 5–8, 1993 (Istanbul: Nederlands Historich-Archaeologisch Instituut, 1996), 69–78.

                    (5.) Tim Ingold, The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill (Abingdon: Routledge, 2000), 54, 192.

                    (6.) Julye Bidmead, The Akitu Festival: Religious Continuity and Royal Legitimation in Mesopotamia (Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press, 2002), 14; Benjamin D. Sommer, ‘The Babylonian Akitu Festival: Rectifying the King or Renewing the Cosmos’, Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society, 27 (2000), 87–95.

                    (7.) Marc Van De Meiroop, ‘Reading Babylon’, American Journal of Archaeology, 107/2 (2003), 265.

                    (8.) Mary Beard, John North, and Simon Price, Religions of Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 177–81; Livy 1.44; Eric M. Orlin, ‘Octavian and Egyptian Cults: Redrawing the Boundaries of Romanness’, American Journal of Philology, 129 (2008), 231–53.

                    (9.) Van De Meiroop, The Ancient Mesopotamian City, 47–8.

                    (10.) Eireann Marshall, ‘Ideology and Reception: Reading Symbols of Roman Cyrene’, in Helen M. Parkins, ed., Roman Urbanism: Beyond the Consumer City (London: Routledge, 1996), 169–204.

                    (11.) Robert Hannah, Time in Antiquity (London and New York: Routledge, 2009), 27.

                    (12.) Van De Meiroop, ‘Reading Babylon’, 270–1.

                    (13.) Lin Foxhall, ‘The Running Sands of Time: Archaeology and the Short-Term’, World Archaeology, 31 (2000), 488–9.

                    (14.) Louise Bruit Zaidman and Pauline Schmitt Pantel, Religion in the Ancient Greek City (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 104. On Athens’ calendar, Stephen Lambert, ‘The Sacrificial Calendar of Athens’, Annual of the British School at Athens, 97 (2002), 353–99; Noel Robertson, ‘Athena's Shrines and Festivals’, in Jenifer Neils, ed., Worshipping Athena (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996), 28; Efrosyni Boutsikas, ‘Astronomical Evidence for the Timing of the Panathenaia’, American Journal of Archaeology, 115 (2011), 303–9.

                    (15.) Walter Burkhert, Greek Religion, trans. John Raffan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univeristy Press, 1985), 225.

                    (16.) Traditionally set in 753 bce, and abbreviated to AUC, this phrase also gave Livy's monumental history its name, Ab urbe condita libri. T. J. Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome (London: Routledge, 1995); Christina S. Kraus, ‘“No Second Troy”: Topoi and Refoundation in Livy, Book V’, Transactions of the American Philological Association, 124 (1994), 267–89; Gary B. Miles, ‘Maiores, Conditores, and Livy's Perspective on the Past’, Transactions of the American Philological Association, 118 (1988), 185–208; T. P. Wiseman, Remus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

                    (17.) Peter Woodward and Ann Woodward, ‘Dedicating the Town: Urban Foundation Deposits in Roman Britain’, World Archaeology, 36/1 (2004), 68–86.

                    (18.) Agnes Michels, The Calendar of the Roman Republic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967); Beard, North, and Price, Religions of Rome, 24–5.

                    (19.) Michele Renee Salzman, On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 189, 96–8.

                    (20.) Van De Meiroop, The Ancient Mesopotamian City, 78; Van De Meiroop, ‘Reading Babylon’, 267–8, 72. The religious and symbolic significance of sunlight may also have influenced the layout of Mesopotamian cities: Mary Shepperson, ‘Planning for the Sun: Urban Forms as a Mesopotamian Response to the Sun’, World Archaeology, 41/3 (2009), 363–78.

                    (21.) G. M. Rogers, The Sacred Identity of Ephesos: Foundation Myths of a Roman City (London: Routledge, 1991); Cecelia Feldman Weiss, ‘Bodies in Motion: Civic Ritual and Place-Making in Roman Ephesus’, in Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels and Darian Totten, eds., Making Roman Places, Past and Present (Portsmouth, R.I.: JRA Supplemental Series Number 89, 2012), 51-63. On the archaeology of ritual, Colin Renfrew, ‘The Archaeology of Ritual’, in Evangelos Kyriakidis, ed., The Archaeology of Ritual (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, 2007), 109–22.

                    (22.) Fritz Graf, ‘Pompeii in Greece. Considerations about Space and Ritual in the Greek Polis’, in Robin Hägg, ed., The Role of Religion in the Early Greek Polis (Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Ancient Greek Cult, Organized by the Swedish Insititute at Athens, 16–18 October 1992. Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, Series 80, xiv; Stockholm: Paul Åström Förlag, 1996), 58–60.

                    (23.) Susan Guettel Cole, ‘Demeter in the Ancient Greek City and Its Coutryside’, in Susan E. Alcock and Robin Osborne, eds., Placing the Gods: Sancturaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 199–216; Noel Robertson, ‘The Two Processions to Eleusis and the Program of the Mysteries’, The American Journal of Philology, 119/4 (1998), 547–75.

                    (24.) John Camp, The Archaeology of Athens (London: Yale University Press, 2001); W. R. Connor, ‘Tribes, Festivals and Processions; Civic Ceremonial and Political Manipulation in Archaic Greece’, Journal of Hellenic Studies, 107 (1987), 40–50. For a mythological interpretation of the frieze, Joan B. Connelly, ‘Parthenon and Parthenoi: A Mythological Interpretation of the Parthenon Frieze’, American Journal of Archaeology, 100.1 (1996) 53–80. On the frieze and processions, Jenifer Neils, ‘Pride, Pomp, and Circumstance. The Iconography of Procession’, in Jenifer Neils, ed., Worshipping Athena (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996), 177–97.

                    (25.) Lisa Maurizio, ‘The Panathenaic Procession: Athens’ Participatory Democracy on Display?’, in Deborah Boedeker and Kurt A. Raaflaub, eds., Democracy, Empire and the Arts in Fifth-Century Athens (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univeristy Press, 1998), 307.

                    (26.) Quote from François De Polignac, Cults, Territory, and the Origins of the Greek City-State, trans. Janet Lloyd (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 78.

                    (27.) Susan B. Downey, ‘Colonnaded Streets in the Greek East’, Journal of Roman Archaeology, 14 (2001), 641–2. For a skeptical reading, Ted Kaizer, The Religious Life of Palmyra (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2002), 42, 200–2.

                    (28.) R. A. Tomlinson, ‘The Sequence of Construction of Mnesikles’ Propylaia’, Annual of the British School at Athens, 85 (1990), 408.

                    (29.) Beard, North, and Price, Religions of Rome, 40; Mary Beard, Roman Triumph (London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007); Diane Favro, ‘The Street Triumphant. The Urban Impact of Roman Triumphal Parades’, in Zeynep Cȩlik, Diane Favro, and Richard Ingersoll, eds., Streets. Critical Perspectives on Public Space (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 152–3.

                    (30.) Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

                    (31.) Michael Sommer, ‘Palmyra and Hatra: “Civic” and “Tribal” Institutions at the Near Eastern Steppe Frontier’, in Erich S. Gruen, ed., Cultural Borrowings and Ethnic Appropriations in Antiquity (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2005), 288; Ernest Will, ‘Le développement urbaine de Palmyre: témoignages épigraphiques anciens et nouveaux’, Syria, 60 (1983) 69–81; Ted Kaizer, ‘Introduction’, in Ted Kaizer, ed., The Variety of Local Relgious Life in the Near East in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 26.

                    (32.) Van De Meiroop, ‘Reading Babylon’, 263.

                    (33.) J. B. Lott, The Neighborhoods of Augustan Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge Univeristy Press, 2004); Ray Laurence, Roman Pompeii. Space and Society (London: Routledge, 1994), 41–2.

                    (34.) Wendy Ashmore and Jeremy A. Sabloff, ‘Spatial Orders in Maya Civic Plans’, Latin American Antiquity, 13.2 (2002), 201–15. See critique in Michael E. Smith, ‘Can We Read Cosmology in Ancient Maya City Plans? Comment on Ashmore and Sabloff’, Latin American Antiquity, 14/2 (2003) 221–8; Michael E. Smith, ‘Form and Meaning in the Earliest Cities: A New Approach to Ancient Urban Planning’, Journal of Planning History, 6/1 (2007), 3–47.

                    (35.) Quote from Saburo Sugiyama, ‘Worldview Materialized in Teotihuacán, Mexico’, Latin American Antiquity, 4.2 (1993), 103; George L. Cowgill, ‘Teotihuacán: Cosmic Glories and Mundane Needs’, in Monica Smith, ed., The Social Construction of Ancient Cities (London and Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 2003), 40.

                    (36.) George L. Cowgill, ‘Intentionality and Meaning in the Layout of Teotihuacán, Mexico’, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 10/2 (2001), 358–61; George L. Cowgill, ‘The Urban Organization of Teotihuacán, Mexico’, in Elizabeth C. Stone, ed., Settlement and Society: Essays Dedicated to Robert McCormick Adams (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, 2007), 261–95; George C. Cowgill, ‘Teotihuacán as an Urban Place’, in Alba Guadalupe Mastache, Robert H. Cobean, Ángel Garcia Cook, and Kenneth G. Hirth, eds., EI Urbanismo en Mesoamerica/Urbanism in Mesoamerica, vol. 2, (Mexico City and University Park, PA: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia and the Pennsylvania State University, 2008), 85–112.

                    (37.) Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane. The Nature of Religion, trans. Willard R. Trask (San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1957), 52.

                    (38.) Paul Wheatley, ‘Archaeology and the Chinese City’, World Archaeology, 2.2 (1970), 159–85; Paul Wheatley, The Pivot of the Four Quarters: A Preliminary Enquiry into the Origins and Character of the Ancient Chinese City (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1971); Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt, Chinese Imperial City Planning (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990), 8–9.

                    (39.) Peter Carl et al., ‘Viewpoint: Were Cities Built as Images?’, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 10/2 (2001), 327–65.

                    (40.) D. O’Connor, ‘The City and the World: Worldview and Built Forms in the Reign of Amenhotep III’, in D. O’Connor and E. H. Chine, eds., Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998), 154–6, 163–71. O’Connor bases this argument primarily on a text, a stela from Amenhotep's memorial temple.

                    (41.) Barry Kemp, ‘The City of El-Amarna as a Source for the Study of Urban Society in Ancient Egypt’, World Archaeology, 9.2 (1977), 123–39; David P. Silverman, Josef W. Wegner, and Jennifer Houser Wegner, Akenaten Tutankhamun. Revolution and Restoration (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2006); Barry Kemp, ‘Bricks and Metaphor’, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 10 (2000), 340, 42.

                    (42.) Mary T. Boatwright, ‘Hadrian, Athens, and the Panhellenion’, Journal of Roman Archaeology, 7 (1994), 426–31; Panagiotis N. Doukellis, ‘Hadrian's Panhellenion: A Network of Cities?’, Mediterranean Historical Review 22/2 (2007), 295–308; Anthony Spawforth and Susan Walker, ‘The World of the Panhellenion. I. Athens and Eleusis’, Journal of Roman Studies, 75 (1985), 78–104; Anthony Spawforth and Susan Walker, ‘The World of the Panhellenion: II. Three Dorian Cities’, Journal of Roman Studies, 76 (1986) 88–105; A. J. S Spawforth, ‘The Panhellenion Again’, Chiron, 29 (1999), 339–52.

                    (43.) Hendrik Jan Willem Drijvers, ‘Hatra, Palmyra, Edessa. Die Städte Der Syrisch-Mesopotamischen Wüst in Politischer, Kulturgeschichtlicher und Religionsgeschichtlicher Beleuchtung’, Aufsteig und Nierdergang der Römischen Welt, II.8 (1977), 799–906. On ancient pilgramage generally, Jas Elsner and Ian Rutherford, eds., Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

                    (44.) Lucinda Dirven, ‘Hatra: A “Pre-Islamic Mecca” in the Eastern Jazirah’, ARAM, 18–19 (2006–2007), 366–7.

                    (45.) Van De Meiroop, The Ancient Mesopotamian City, 215–28; G. Van Driel, ‘Nippur and the Inanna Temple during the Ur III Period’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 38/3 (1995), 393–406; Mcguire Gibson, ‘Patterns of Occupation at Nippur’, in M. Dejong Ellis, ed., Nippur at the Centennial (Philadelphia: University Museum, 1992), 33–54; Mcguire Gibson, ‘Nippur—Sacred City of Enlil: Supreme God of Sumer and Akkad’, Al-Rafidan, 14 (1993), 1–18.

                    (46.) G. W. Bowersock, Mosaics as History: The Near East from Late Antiquity to Islam (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 2006), 28, 65–88.

                    (47.) O. A. W. Dilke, ‘Cartography in the Byzantine Empire’, in J. B. Harley and D. Woodward, eds., The History of Cartography Volume 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 258–75; Katherine M. D. Dunbabin, Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 198–205; Yoram Tsafrir, ‘The Maps Used by Theodosius: On the Pilgrim Maps of the Holy Land and Jerusalem in the Sixth Century C. E.’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 40 (1986), 129–45. On movement and place, Ingold, The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, 155.

                    (48.) Ted Kaizer, ‘Patterns of Worship in Dura-Europos. A Case Study of Religious Life in the Classical Levant outside the Main Cult Centres’, in Corinne Bonnet, Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge, and Danny Praet, eds., Les religions orientales dans le monde grec et romain: cent ans après Cumont (1906–2006) (Brussells, Rome: Institut Historique Belge de Rome, 2009), 153–72; Lucinda Dirven, The Palmyrenes of Dura-Europos. A Study of Religious Interaction in Roman Syria (Leiden: Brill, 1999).

                    (49.) Eric M. Meyers, ‘Aspects of Everyday Life in Roman Palestine with Special Reference to Private Domiciles and Ritual Baths’, in John R. Bartlett, ed., Jews in the Hellenistic and Roman Cities (London: Routledge, 2002), 193–220; David Noy, ‘The Jews of Roman Syria: The Synagogues of Dura-Europos and Apamea’, in Samuel N. C. Lieu and Richard Alston, eds., Aspects of the Roman East. Papers in Honour of Professor Fergus Millar (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), 64.

                    (50.) J. A. Baird, ‘The Graffiti of Dura-Europos: A Contextual Approach’, in J. A. Baird and Claire Taylor, eds., Ancient Graffiti in Context (New York: Routledge, 2010), 49–68; Richard N. Frye et al., ‘Inscriptions from Dura-Europos’, Yale Classical Studies, 14 (1955), 123–213. On the foundation and plan of Dura, Pierre Leriche, ‘Le Chreophylakeion de Doura-Europos et la mise en place du plan Hippodamien de la ville’, in Marie-Françoise Boussac and Antonio Invernizzi, eds., Archives et sceaux du monde hellénistique (Paris: Bulletin de correspondance hellenique supplément 29, 1996), 157–69; Pierre Leriche, ‘Pourquoi et comment Europos a été fondée à Doura?’, in Pierre Brulé and Jacques Oulhen, eds., Escalavage, guerre, économie en grèce ancienne. Hommages à Yvon Garlan (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 1997), 191–210.

                    (51.) Susan B. Downey, Mesopotamian Religious Architecture. Alexander through the Parthians (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988).

                    (52.) Richard Alston, ‘Philo's In Flaccum: Ethnicity and Social Space in Roman Alexandria’, Greece and Rome, 44 (1997), 165–75.

                    (53.) Zaidman and Pantel, Religion in the Ancient Greek City, 34; Marcel Detienne and Jean Pierre Vernant, The Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).

                    (54.) Hugh Kennedy, ‘From Polis to Madina: Urban Change in Late Antique and Early Islamic Syria’, Past and Present, 106 (1985), 3–27; René Dussaud, ‘Le temple de Jupiter Damascénien et ses transformations aux époques chrétienne et musulmane’, Syria, 3/3 (1922) 219–50; Oleg Grabar, ‘La grande mosquée de Damas et les origines architecturales de la Mosquée’, Synthronon, Art et Archéologie de la fin de l’antiquité et du moyen âge (Paris: Bibliothèque des Cahiers Archéologues, 1968) 107–14.

                    (55.) Van De Meiroop, The Ancient Mesopotamian City, 215; Pedley, Sanctuaries and the Sacred in the Ancient Greek World, 51–2; James Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 294.

                    (56.) For a cross-cultural discussion, Carl et al., ‘Viewpoint: Were Cities Built as Images?’; Cowgill, ‘Origins and Development of Urbanism: Archaeological Perspectives’.