Religious Ritual On Board The Greco-Roman Ship
AIA Society: Kansas City/LawrenceLecturer: Carrie Atkins
For Greco-Roman sailors or passengers aboard a ship, aspects of daily life occurred within a ship’s physical boundaries while at sea. These activities were related not only to sailing and trading, but also to eating, sleeping, and performing rituals. The material remnants of these ritual activities have been little studied, yet represent key evidence in understanding the impact of mobility on ritual practices aboard the Greco-Roman ship. In this lecture, I discuss archaeological evidence for potential ritual objects from shipwrecks in the Mediterranean alongside textual and iconographic depictions of these rituals. Not all ritual objects found in shipwrecks provide evidence for shipboard ritual but instead were likely transported as cargo. For some multifunctional objects that had a potential use both in religious ritual or for general activities, I suggest these objects could construct temporary sacred spaces aboard the ship when employed at poignant times in the voyage. These rituals, however, were not prescriptive nor ubiquitous but instead were chosen by individuals, shaped by cross-cultural connectivity and mobility.
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