April 12, 2014, by Helen Lovatt

Thinking about Thinking about Ancient Religion

In July 2013, the Ancient Religions and Cognition (ARCog) project held its first workshop. Esther Eidinow tells us how, over the course of two days, participants explored the theme of religious authority, using cognitive theorizing to think about ancient evidence, and vice versa.

You can find out more about the project and the workshop, and watch a film of the meeting here.

This was the first of two workshops that brought established researchers together with early career academics and postgraduates. Both workshops covered:

• diverse ancient cultures from the Mediterranean and Near East, including Greece, Rome, and Egypt;

• modern methodologies and case studies from various fields engaged in cognitive approaches to religion.

These are the initial events of a longer-term project, developed by Dr Esther Eidinow at the University of Nottingham and Professor Tom Harrison at Liverpool University. The project aims to develop a network of scholars to explore interactions between ancient religions and cognitive approaches to religion.

July’s meeting saw papers on cognitive approaches to religious authority given by Armin Geertz, Aarhus University; Aleš Chalupa and Eva Kundtová Klocová, Masaryk University; and Lee McCorkle, University of North Carolina. In turn, John Baines, University of Oxford; Robin Osborne, University of Cambridge; John North, ICS, London gave papers on aspects of authority in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman religions, respectively.

The second day began with two papers that demonstrated how cognitive approaches may be applied to ancient evidence. These were given by Olympia Panagiotidou, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki/Aarhus University and Luther Martin, University of Vermont. The participants then broke up into smaller groups to discuss themes in more detail.

This meeting was supported by the British Academy, the Institute for Classical Studies, the J. P. Postgate Fund, Liverpool, and the universities of Nottingham and Liverpool.

A second meeting on cognitive approaches to the transmission of religion in ancient cultures (supported by the British Academy, the Institute for Classical Studies, the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, and the universities of Nottingham and Liverpool) was held in January 2014. A film of that meeting will be posted on this site soon—watch this space!

Cup Apatouria Louvre G138
Triptolemos Painter
Français : Peintre de Triptolème (User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-07-21) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons

Posted in ClassicscognitiveconferencesGreek godsGreek mythGreek religion