28-30 JANUARY 2021, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE (ONLINE)
CALL FOR PAPERS
SESSION 9 –SACRED GEOGRAPHIES: LANDSCAPE AND
RELIGION IN THE ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN
Session Organizers: Larissa Tittl,
University of Melbourne and Caroline Tully, University of Melbourne
The scent of
citrus and of brittle pine
island. Inside [Calypso] was singing
and weaving with
a shuttle made of gold.
Her voice was beautiful.
Around the cave
a luscious forest
flourished: alder, poplar,
and scented cypress. It was full of wings.
there but hunted out at sea:
the owls, the
hawks, the gulls with gaping beaks.
A ripe and
luscious vine, hung thick with grapes,
was stretched to
coil around her cave. Four springs
sparkling water as they laced
currents intertwined together.
The meadow softly
bloomed with celery
and violets. He
gazed around in wonder
and joy, at
sights to please even a god.
Calypso’s cave in Homer’s Odyssey, Book 5, l.60-74, tr. Emily Wilson
The Mediterranean landscape, in both a
geographical and imaginative sense, is interconnected with religion, as idea
and practise, in many significant ways. The topography and terrain of both
land- and seascape are the focus of ritual activity; iconographic and textual
responses concerning deities, sacred places, and other-than-human beings; the
building of religious architecture; the worship of or ritual engagement with
natural features and phenomena: a landscape saturated with sacred elements. And
all of this sits alongside and is aligned with wider social, mortuary, and
Once considered merely an inert backdrop for
human activity or as a series of material affordances or constraints, landscape
has increasingly come to be understood as a ‘stage constructed in the mind’
(Ashmore and Knapp 1999: 8) comprising taskscapes of nested activities,
palimpsests of memory, association and affect, sites of situated in-dwelling,
accumulation, and inscribed attachments over time. Phenomenologically, space
and time converge in place, a dialectical position which recursively shapes and
is shaped by human agents and thus anchors human ontologies in time and place.
Symbolic cultural landscapes include the terrestrial planes of human activity
as well as natural phenomena including diurnal and seasonal cycles, and
celestial elements such as the sun or the night sky. With nature thus
reconfigured as a cultural construction, ideology—political, religious—can be
used to normalize or contest the social status quo, to resolve or exploit
social tensions around identity and inequality.
What is the role of religion in these systems
of power and hierarchy, domination and resistance, identify formation and
negotiation; how does landscape fit into this nexus? How did humans in the
ancient Mediterranean respond to their environment through or with a sense of
the sacred? Was the landscape sentient, numinous or was it just a meeting place
for humans and divinities?
This session calls for contributors who
research religion and ritual in the context of landscape across the
Mediterranean in both space and time: Neolithic to Late Antiquity; the coastlines,
hinterlands and connected places that comprise the Mediterranean in the widest
geographical and theoretical sense. We invite both theoretically informed
papers—including those with new, radical or experimental approaches—and papers
based in rich interpretations of fieldwork and survey data, or museum
collections. Also welcome are papers that incorporate textual and epigraphical
evidence alongside archaeological material.
Session format: 20-minute papers followed by 5 minutes for
questions and discussion.
Proposals for papers should be sent to email@example.com
and must include the following information:
• Title of the Paper
• Name, affiliation and email of the
• Title of the themed session for your paper
• A short abstract of your proposed paper (of
not more than 200 words)
The deadline for the submission of all
paper and poster proposals is the 30th of November 2020.