Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
This study explores the changing nature of household cult practices, a currently under-studied category of evidence, in the Roman province of Achaia, from the first century BCE to the fourth century CE, with reference to pre-Roman domestic religion. The primary aim of this investigation is to understand to what extent Roman cult practices were integrated in select households across Roman Achaia. Household religion is an ideal indicator for cultural change and shifting cultural identities; it was essential in both Greek and Roman cultures and vital to the survival of the family unit and the wider community, but was conducted differently in these two cultures. To trace these changes archaeologically, the arrangement and function of rooms within the house are analyzed, and a specific identifiable group of finds are studied contextually. It is argued that the differences lie in the selection of deities, the location of household shrines and their accessibility, both physically and visually, to inhabitants and visitors. The framework within which cultural change is analyzed is “Romanization” that is re-interpreted as “cultural interaction,” emphasizing the impact that local communities had in shaping Roman domestic religion in the Roman Empire.
To document the dynamic and complex nature of Roman culture and its relation to pre-Roman religious activities within the province, five sites were selected from Achaia: Corinth, Patras, Messene, Athens, and the Piraeus. The sites represent variations between colonies and free cities, different economic interests, different political relationships with Rome, urban development, and concentrations of Roman immigrants. The findings are compared and contrasted with those from Delos, the first substantial Italian community in the Greek world, in order to enrich understanding of the complex cultural interactions in the Roman Empire. The results of this study demonstrate the validity of this approach towards household religion as a type of household assemblage, and the variations of discrepant experiences of the household units, the communities, and the regions which composed the Roman Empire.
Person, Catherine W. "Household Shrines and Cults in Roman Achaia: A New Approach to Examining Cultural Change under the Roman Empire." PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College, 2012.