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Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions 2023 Winter Newsletter

Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions 2023 Winter Newsletter

GODSCAPES: Ritual, Belief and the Natural World in the Ancient Mediterranean and Beyond
St. Andrews University, June 27-30, 2023

Photo courtesy of Omrit Settlement Excavations Project

Registration is now available for the 2023 SAMR summer conference at St. Andrews University in Scotland. We have received an excellent batch of paper proposals and the program committee is putting together a diverse and interesting agenda.

The keynote speaker on the morning of June 28th will be Prof. Jason König of St. Andrews, speaking on “Representing mountain religion in the Roman empire: Bodies and landscapes in Pausanias and beyond.”

The conference dinner will be held on Thursday night, June 29, at the Tom Morris Bar & Grill.

A pre-conference excursion to Vindolanda and Hadrian’s wall will take place June 25-27.

Check out this link for all the details and registration.

European Academy of Religion also meeting at St. Andrews (June 19-23)

If you are coming to St. Andrews for the SAMR conference, you might also want to take in the 6th annual EuAR meeting immediately before. The title of the meeting is "Religion from the Inside." See this link for more information.

2023-2024 Annual Meetings Call For Papers Available Now!

Thanks to Robyn Walsh, Dina Boero, and the Steering Committee for their hard work on preparing panels for the 23/24 annual meetings.

Please consider submitting a paper proposal for one (or more) of the following programs, and share these notices with your social media and any colleagues who might be interested. Direct any questions to samrprograms@gmail.com

AIA/SCS 2024 (Chicago) Joint Session CFP: Gods on the rocks: epigraphy, epigrams, and the reconstruction of the Greek and Roman religious experience. Deadline Mar 1, 2023

Society of Classical Studies 2024 (Chicago): Affiliated Group Panel CFP: Secrecy and sociogenesis: mysteries, restricted rituals, and the growth of religious communities. Deadline Mar 10, 2023

Society of Biblical Literature 2023 (San Antonio) CFP: Secrecy and sociogenesis: mysteries, restricted rituals, and the growth of religious communities Deadline March 14, 2023

RIP Rev. Frederick E. Brenk

We are sorry to report that SAMR and all of us have lost a dear friend and colleague. Fred Brenk passed away in Milwaukee on December 3, 2022. Fred was a distinguished scholar, a great conversationalist, and a good friend. He was actively involved in SAMR from the beginning, and was instrumental in setting up the first SAMR international meeting at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in the summer of 2008. You can read Fred’s obituary from the Milwaukee Journal, and the Midwest Jesuit webpage. If you are not familiar with Fred’s scholarly work and influence, check out the Festschrift published for him: Gods, Daimones, Ritual, Myths and History of Religions in Plutarch’s Works. Studies devoted to Professor Frederick E. Brenk by the International Plutarch Society (2010).

Program Committee welcomes new member

Nicola Denzey Lewis is beginning a three-year term as a member of the Program Committee. She replaces Megan Daniels who has been a very active participant during her term. The other members of the Program Committee are Kenneth Yu and Jennifer Larson. Dina Boero is the Program Coordinator. Thanks to all the members for your fine work. If you are interested in future service on the Program Committee, please contact Dina or Dan Schowalter (schowa@carthage.edu).

SAMR sessions at SBL 2022 in Denver

SAMR contributed two sessions to the 2022 SBL annual meeting in Denver.
Chris Atkins, M. David Litwa, Ryan Abramowitz and Gerhard van den Heever contributed papers to a joint session with Greco-Roman Religions on "Remodeling the Motel of the Mysteries," which demonstrated how a rich range of new approaches has reinvigorated the study of Greek and Roman mystery cults. Jennifer Larson provided a thoughtful and helpful response that triggered a lively discussion.

The second session was a unique one, involving Multi Reality imaging of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace.

Maggie Popkin, Bonna Wescoat, Erin Henninger and Mark Griswold provided an excellent overview and then a hands-on demonstration of Embodying Sacred Experience in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods at Samothrace Using Digital Modeling and Mixed Reality.

Walking around the reconstructed sanctuary, while still being in the foyer of the Sheraton hotel in Denver was a most revealing experience of the scale and grandeur of the ancient sanctuary. We are grateful to our friends at the American Excavations of Samothrace, Emory University and Case Western Reserve University for sharing this exciting technology with us.

SAILING WITH THE GODS, A great time was had by all

Thanks to Amelia Brown and Sandy Blakley for all of their hard work and perseverence in planning and actualizing the Sailing with the Gods: Religion and Maritime Mobility in the Ancient World conference on Malta in June of 2022. Full details of the excellent final program can be found at this link, but the conference experience also included amazing pre-conference excursions, stimulating collegiality, and superb hospitality at the Grand Hotel Excelsior.  

Studies in Ancient Mediterranean Religion Volume III

The latest in SAMR’s Studies in Ancient Mediterranean Religions, published by Lockwood Press, is now in production! Data Science, Human Science, and Ancient Gods: Conversations in Theory and Method, edited by Megan Daniels and Sandy Blakely, brings together twelve explorations in ancient Mediterranean religions informed by paradigms drawn from the social sciences.

The volume begins with a chapter by Megan Daniels and Sandy Blakely, “New Sciences and Old Gods: A Brief History of the Human Sciences and Ancient Religion”.

In the first section of the volume, “Human Science: Feasting, Cognition, Memory and Performance”, Megan Daniels offers “Ritualizing the Early Iron Age Political Economy in the Greek World: Feasting in Extraurban Sanctuaries”; Jennifer Larson, “Harnessing the Gods: Big Gods Theory and Moral Supervision in the Greek World”; Maggie Popkin, “Festival Souvenirs from Roman Cologne: Connectivity, Memory, and Conceptions of Time”; and Jacob Latham, “Roman Strategies of Ritualization and the Performance of the Pompa Circensis”.

In section two, “Network Models: Material and Social”, we publish Sebastian Heath’s paper, “Nearness and Experience in a Network of Roman Amphitheaters”; Lindsey Mazurek, Kathryn Langenfeld and Benjamin Gordon’s “Reflexivity and Digital Praxis: Reconstructing Olbia’s Social Networks”.

The third section, “Data Driven Approaches: Quantifying, Digitizing, and Describing”, offers four papers: Sarah Murray, “The Landscape of Early Greek Religion: GIS, Big Data, and the Complexity of the Archaeological Record”; M. Willis Monroe, “Quantifying Thick Descriptions with the Database of Religious History”; Dan-el Padilla Peralta, “The Reign of Janus: Signs, Data Science, and Image Worlds in Third-Century BCE Italy”; Sandy Blakely, “Agency, Affect, Games and Gods: Archaeogaming and the Archaeology of Religion.”

Ian Rutherford has provided an Epilogue, with a conspectus on this collection of papers which triangulate the human sciences, quantitative approaches, and the complex bundle of materials through which we approach ancient rites and performances, the people who performed them and the gods they created.

Studies in Ancient Mediterranean Religions volume IV, Homo Necans at 50: Contributions and Controversies in the Anthropology of Greek Religion, is currently in the editorial process. The editors hope for publication within the year.

SAMR Membership NOW!

Thanks to everyone who is up-to-date on their dues. If you are not, please go to the webpage and pay up today! Also, we need to do a better job of recruiting people to be part of SAMR. Please let your social media groups, colleagues, and students know about all the great activities going on in SAMR. Encourage them to visit the web page and sign up so that they don't miss out. If all of us got one other person to join, we would double the size of the group, and I was not even a math major.

SAMR 15th Anniversary Celebration

In light of the 15th anniversary of the founding of SAMR, and our first international meeting in Rome in the summer of 2008, Jeff Brodd is working on a history of SAMR. If you want to share your favorite SAMR memory, please contact Jeff (jbrodd@csus.edu).

2024 International Meeting with the Connected Past Group

SAMR will co-sponsor The Connected Past Conference, to be held at UBC-Vancouver campus in September 2024. The Connected Past is a multidisciplinary academic community dedicated to fostering the study of network science and theory in archaeology and history. The conference will include a 2-day workshop on applications of network science, aimed at PhD students and Early Career scholars, followed by several days of papers, demonstrations, and discussions. With SAMR's involvement, this conference will focus largely on the application of network science and theory to religious networks in antiquity. Stay tuned for the CFP!

Epigraphy and Religion Flash Conference a big success!

Boat drawing and inscription from St. Paul's catacomb in Rabat, Malta

On Sunday, December 11, 2022, SAMR held its first flash conference on Religion and Epigraphy. The conference, organized by Eric Orlin, featured talks by Dr. Gil Renberg, (Howard University) on “Case Studies in Roman Dream-Inscriptions, Dr. Csaba Szabó, (University of Szeged) on “Narrating religious experiences: lived religion on inscriptions from the Danubian provinces” and Dr. Eleri Cousins (Lancaster University) on “More than just a name? Regional cults and epigraphy on the Romano-British frontier."

The talks were extremely interesting and stimulated good discussion among panelists and zoom audience members. Thanks to Eric and to everyone who participated.

Treasurer's Hoard

SAMR remains in good financial shape. At present, our holdings are at $3,264.65. The vast majority of our expenses fall under the following categories: (1) the ongoing implementation of our new web presence; (2) fees related to providing AV equipment for our sessions at annual society meetings; (3) our commitment to providing honoraria to participants in our various initiatives, including our recent “Flash Conference” on Religion and Epigraphy; (4) our commitment to subsidizing junior, retired, and contingent faculty to attend conferences and/or pay registration fees. We hope to recoup and build funds through forthcoming membership renewals and fundraising.

On that note, please be sure to renew—or begin!— your SAMR membership. Note that we now offer a one-time “lifetime” membership option.

As always, drop us an email at socamr@gmail.com with any questions!

SAMR Business Meeting at SCS/AIA

The annual business meeting for SAMR was held in conjunction with the SCS/AIA meeting in New Orleans. The meeting was held virutally and we had participants from around the globe. One important outcome was a clarification of the terms for current officers. Due to COVID and other considerations, the staggering of terms for officers had gotten out of sync. In light of this, the meeting approved the following resolution:

"To renew the terms for Robyn Walsh and Dan Schowalter as Secretary/Treasurer and President respectively, with the understanding that Robyn would step down at the end of 2023 and Dan would step down at the end of 2024. Also, that we would immediately begin to search for the next person to serve as Secretary Treasurer who could begin to shadow Robyn in the role as soon as possible."

According to the bylaws, the normal term forSecretary/Treasurer and President is three years, with the possibility of renewal for one additional term. The bylaws can be viewed at this link. In the fall, we will bring a revision of the bylaws to include the new officer position of Program Coordinator. Dina Boero has been filling this position on a trial basis, and she has done a super job. It is clear that this should be a permanent position, so we will change the bylaws to reflect that. This position will also work on a three-year term, staggered with the President and Secretary/Treasurer to keep as much continuity as possible.

We are always anxious to have new people involved in the administration of SAMR. If you would be interested in serving in some capacity, please email Dan Schowalter (schowa@carthage.edu).

SAMR Spring Zoom Mini-conference

Thanks to Zsuzsa Varhelyi for organizing a spring Zoom mini-conference, focused on new approaches to late antique religion in the Mediterranean. More information to follow soon.