Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
Despite both the growing interest in ancient travel and the extensive archaeological evidence of roadside religious spaces and activities in both Athens and Attica, no scholarly work has yet examined these phenomena in a comprehensive manner. Building on the scholarship about Attic roads, ancient travel, and Greek religion, this study presents the literary testimonia, the epigraphical evidence, and the archaeological material related to Attic and Athenian roadside religious spaces between the Archaic and the Early Roman periods. Roadside shrines took the form of open-air precincts, small temples, and altars, and they flourished throughout Athens, the Attic demes, and the more rural areas of Attica. The divinities that were worshiped at these spaces of transition reflect a broader spectrum than those commonly linked with roads: Hermes, Hekate, and Apollo Agyieus. As convenient locations for sacrifice, libation, offerings, prayer, and protection, individuals in all walks of life used roadside religious spaces for both incidental and organized worship. Additionally, these shrines also served practical purposes as navigation points and places for relaxation. The archaeological evidence, in combination with the literary and epigraphical sources, presents a picture of the ubiquity and importance of roadside shrines in Attica. As locations for day-to-day, small group, and state religious activities, some roadside religious spaces were used for centuries. The evidence for roadside religious spaces both offers a view of elusive—yet important—religious practices and also enhances our understanding of the Attic religious landscape.
Best, Johanna. “Religion of the Roadways: Roadside Sacred Spaces in Attica.” PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, 2015.