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date: 04 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Although synthetic studies of Greek religion have historically been largely text-based, recent research increasingly embraces a more integrated approach that engages seriously with material evidence. This chapter investigates some methodological and theoretical challenges in the use of material culture as evidence for ancient Greek religious practices, and examines recent developments that echo major themes of the present volume: (1) reassessing received definitions of ‘Greek religion’; (2) adopting an expanded chronological perspective on ‘Greek religion’; and (3) re-evaluating the ‘polis religion’ model. Illustrating these themes are two case studies focusing on the contextual analysis of terracotta figurines: one from a sanctuary on Hellenistic Delos, and one from a refuse deposit in Classical Athens. These case studies further illustrate several theoretical and methodological points, including the indispensability of contextual analysis; the informational value of seemingly humble ‘small finds’; and the importance of situating individual religious sites within broader cultic landscapes.

Keywords: figurines, material culture, polis, religion

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