The Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions was founded to foster the interdisciplinary study of the religions of the ancient Mediterranean basin, and especially the interaction of the multiple polytheistic religions with each other and with the emerging monotheistic religions of the region.  We hope to bring together scholars interested in Near Eastern studies, Classics, Religion and other related fields to share insights with each other.  Membership for a nominal fee is open to faculty, graduate students and anyone with an interest in ancient Mediterranean religious traditions.

Please feel free to poke around our site for other information about the society’s activities or other activities of interest. For more information, contact one of the officers, listed below.

Zsuzsa Várhelyi (President)

Zsuzsa Varhelyi (PhD, Columbia University, 2002) is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Boston University. She works on the cultural, religious, and social history of the late Republic and early Roman empire. She published her first monograph, “The Religion of Senators in the Roman Empire: Power and the Beyond,” with Cambridge University Press, in which she examined the changes in Roman religion, especially among the elite, in response to the rise of imperial rule and the imperial cult. She co-edited, with Jennifer Knust, a volume on ancient Mediterranean sacrificial practices, published by Oxford University Press. She has published on religion and war in the Republic and is currently completing a monograph entitled “The Others of the Self: Traumatic Relations and the Emergence of the Self in Ancient Rome,” and co-editing with James Uden a conference volume entitled "Experiencing Insecurity: Pain, Trauma, and Suffering in the Roman Empire." From 2024 to 2027, she will serve as the NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Humanities at Boston University.

Jacob Latham (Secretary/Treasurer)

Jacob Latham (FAAR 2006; Phd UCSB 2008) is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is a historian of ancient Mediterranean religions, who explores the intersections of religious practice, urban culture, and social identity in traditional Roman “civic” religion, “Oriental” cults (groups with ascribed eastern Mediterranean origins), and in particular Christianity, ranging from the late Roman Republic to Late Antiquity, focusing on the long Late Antiquity (ca. 250 – 700 CE). His first book, Performance, Memory, and Processions in Ancient Rome: The Pompa Circensis from the Late Republic to Late Antiquity, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

Daniel Schowalter (Past President)

Daniel Schowalter is President of SAMR. He is emeritus professor of Classics and Religion at Carthage College. His research interests revolve around archaeology and the religions of the ancient Roman world. He is one of the excavators at Omrit, a Roman Temple site in northern Israel. He serves on the steering committee for the “Colloquium on Material Culture and Ancient Religion.” He is co-editor of The Temple Complex at Horvat Omrit: vol. 2 The Stratigraphy, Ceramics, and Other Finds (Brill 2021) and Philippi, from Colonia Augusta to Communitas Christiana Religion and Society in Transition (Brill 2021).

Barbette Spaeth (Past President)

Barbette Stanley Spaeth is Professor of Classical Studies at William & Mary.  She was the co-founder with Eric Orlin of the Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions and served as the president of the organization from 2008-2012.  She currently is the co-chair of the Greco-Roman Religions Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and was the co-director of the Institute for Pilgrimage Studies from 2011-2019.  Prof. Spaeth has published articles on a variety of topics including the iconography of the Parthenon and the Ara Pacis, the witch in classical literature, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, instructional technology, and iconography and cult in Roman Corinth.   She has written one monograph, The Roman Goddess Ceres (Austin:  University of Texas Press 1996) and edited two books, The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Mediterranean Religions(Cambridge and New York:  Cambridge University Press 2013) and The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Classical Mythology with Don Nardo (San Diego:  Greenhaven Press 2002).  She is currently working on a new book entitled Cult, Memory, and Identity in Roman Corinth.

Jeffrey Brodd (Past President)

Jeffrey Brodd is Professor of Humanities & Religious Studies at California State University, Sacramento. His primary areas of study are ancient Mediterranean religious cultures, theory and method in the academic study of religion, and world religions. He completed the doctorate in Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has taught previously at the College of Wooster, Winona State University, and Saint Mary’s University. He is co-author of Invitation to World Religions (Oxford University Press, 2022 [4th ed.]) and co-editor, with SAMR member Jonathan L. Reed, of Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult (Society of Biblical Literature, 2011).

Sandra Blakely (Past President)

Anthropology, history, religion, fragmentary sources and secret rites are central to Dr. Blakely’s research. She completed a PhD in Classics and Anthropology at the University of Southern California, exploring the Greek metallurgical daimones in light of comparative models for the sacralization of metallurgical production from Tanzania and the Bakongo. She has published commentaries on the fragmentarily preserved Augustan mythographer Conon, the late Republican Ethnographer Alexander Polyhistor, and Herodorus of Herakleia, a local historian from a Greek colony on the Black Sea. Her current research brings frameworks from landscape studies, complex adaptive systems, social network analysis, and geographic information systems to the epigraphic record of the Great Gods of Samothrace, to test the hypothesis that the safety at sea the Samothracian rites promised was a social reality as well as a mythic metaphor. This has translated into an open-access 3D game, Sailing with the Gods, designed to engage players in the sealanes, social networks, and mythic entanglements of moving around the ancient Mediterranean.

Robyn Faith Walsh (Past Secretary/Treasurer)

Robyn Faith Walsh is an Associate Professor at the University of Miami (UM). She earned her Ph.D. at Brown University in Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean, with a focus on early Christianity, ancient Judaism, and Roman archaeology. Before coming to UM, Professor Walsh taught at Wheaton College (Mass.), The College of the Holy Cross, and received teaching certificates and pedagogical training at Brown University and Harvard University. She teaches courses on the New Testament, Greco-Roman literature and material culture. Her first monograph, The Origins of Early Christian Literature: Contextualizing the New Testament within Greco-Roman Literary Culture, was recently published with Cambridge University Press.

Eric Orlin (Past Secretary/Treasurer)

Eric Orlin is Professor and Chair of Classics at the University of Puget Sound. He is a Roman historian whose primary interests center on the religious practices of the ancient world. He has studied how religious practice both shapes and reflects cultural identity, and he has looked at what the similarities and differences in religious practice across the ancient Mediterranean reveal about the peoples inhabiting that world. He also has been exploring how memory is shaped by religious practices and how those memories in turn shape the development of a society. Orlin is general editor for the Routledge Dictionary of Ancient Mediterranean Religions (Routledge, 2015), and is working on the book Republican Rome: A Social and Cultural History. Earlier he wrote Foreign Cults in Rome: Creating a Roman Empire (Oxford University Press, 2010), which explores how religion contributed to the reshaping of the Roman sense of identity in the wake of their transition from a single city to the dominant power in the Mediterranean basin.

Nancy Evans (Past Secretary/Treasurer)

Dina Boero (Past Program Coordinator)

Dina Boero is Associate Professor of Ancient Mediterranean History at The College of New Jersey. Dr. Boero is a historian of late antiquity. Her research elucidates the making of saints, the anthropology of pilgrimage, and the development of monasticism in late antique Syria. Dr. Boero integrates the archaeological record with Syriac and Greek sources to highlight saints and the institutions that supported them (churches, pilgrimage complexes, monasteries) as sites for negotiating competing meanings and practices. Her current book project, The Anatomy of a Cult, traces the history of Symeon the Stylite the Elder’s (d. 459) cult in the fifth to seventh centuries. Dr. Boero received her BA in Religion from the University of California: San Diego and a MA and PhD in Classics from the University of Southern California. Before joining the faculty at TCNJ, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University in 2016-2017 and a visiting researcher position at the University of Waterloo in 2013-2014.