Natural Features in Greek Cult Places and Ritual: The Case of Athens

Public lecture, Wednesday, 7 September, 6:30
Venue: Malaysian Theatre, Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne

Professor Katja Sporn, 2016 Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA) Visiting Professor

Greek sanctuaries have been connected with monumental architecture since a long time, especially with temple architecture, altars and functional buildings. But natural features were sometimes predecessors of architectural elements; in other cases, even in Hellenistic times and later, they intentionally outlined the sacred places, as has been recently shown, especially in various cities of Asia Minor. The lecture will discuss various types of natural elements associated with ritual places in Athens: caves, rock-cut features, trees and groves, as well as water. A major issue will be to trace the role and function of these elements in the cult of the sites.

Professor Katja Sporn (PhD Heidelberg) has been First Director of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens since 2014. She has also been a professor of classical archaeology at Paris-Lodron University of Salzburg, Austria (2010-13), Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany (2007-2010) and the University of Cologne (2002-2007). During the past five years she has participated in excavations at Aegina-Kolonna and Kalapodi in Greece and in the 1990s she excavated at Tel Kabri in Israel, Miletus in Turkey and Iria on the island of Naxos. She is the author of monographs and numerous journal articles on Greek religion and cult of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, in particular on the island of Crete.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Classical Association of Victoria (CAV), the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA), and the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS) at The University of Melbourne.