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"Lived Ancient Religion: Questioning ""cults"" and ""polis religion""" (LAR)
Start date: Jun 1, 2012, End date: May 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"This project takes a completely new perspective on the religious history of Mediterranean antiquity, starting from the individual and “lived” religion instead of cities or peoples. “Lived ancient religion” suggests a set of experiences, of practices addressed to, and conceptions of the divine, which are appropriated, expressed, and shared by individuals in diverse social spaces. Within this spatial continuum from the primary space of a) the family, b) the secondary space of associations, c) to the shared space of public institutions and d) trans-local literary communication four research fields are defined. In each of them a sub-project addresses representative complexes of evidence in different parts of the Mediterranean in the Imperial period. They are bound together by the transversal analysis of the interaction of individuals with the agents of traditions and providers of religious services in the various fields. The methodological innova¬tion of the “lived ancient religion” approach is defined through the notions of religious experience, embodiment, and “culture formed in interaction"", which are intended to replace the present foci of symbols, rituals, and “culture as text”.In order to transgress the usual research boundaries of “cults” and “religions” the bodies of evidence brought together within the sub-projects cover ancient Mediterranean religion geographically in an extended manner, focusing on Egypt and Italy, Syria and Greece, but also including evidence from the Western and Danubian provinces as well as from North Africa. The project of “Lived Ancient Religion” is pioneering inasmuch as it develops and tests a far-reaching alternative model to “cults” and “polis religion” in order to analyse and describe ancient Mediterranean religion. Its risk lies in modifying the methodology implied in the “lived religion” approach to contemporary religion for the necessities of a body of evidence that is characteristic of a “dead religion”."
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