Exploring the Religious Experiences of Ancient Cities

Short Seminar

April 25–27, 2017

Exploring the Religious Experiences of Ancient CitiesExploring the Religious Experiences of Ancient CitiesCo-chaired by Susan M. Alt and Timothy R. Pauketat.Exploring the Religious Experiences of Ancient CitiesCo-chaired by Susan M. Alt and Timothy R. Pauketat.

A three-year field-research grant (2014-2017) from the John Templeton Foundation is the impetus behind Exploring the Religious Experiences of Ancient Cities. The fieldwork at the so-called “Emerald Acropolis” near Cahokia (ca. AD 1050-1350)—featured in magazines (Archaeology, American Archaeology) and films (e.g., an upcoming PBS documentary)—has aimed to understand the causal links between specific religious practices, powerful non-human agencies, and Cahokia’s distinctive proto-urban sprawl and colonial expansion. Ultimately, the fieldwork lead researchers to conclude that it is necessary to broaden the field of comparisons to other early cities and cult centers.

This 3-day seminar will bring together leading scholars working on prominent early urban complexes around the world who seek to develop a new understanding of the causal relationships between sensorial experience, religious sensibilities, and early cities or city-like complexes: Anyang, Cahokia, Chaco, Monte Alban, Songo Mnara, Tiwanaku and historically related complexes. The workshop is intended to do two things simultaneously: (1) entertain newer relational approaches to early urbanism and religion, and (2) ground those approaches in a comparative archaeological synthesis. Of particular interest is exploring a series of what and how questions focusing on the experiential contexts of early cities or city-like phenomena.

Susan M. Alt, Chair Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University
Timothy R. Pauketat, Chair Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois
Jeffrey Fleisher Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rice University
Ömür Harmansah Associate Professor, Department of Art History, University of Illinois at Chicago
Oliver Harris Associate Professor of Archaeology, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester, U.K.
John Janusek Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology, Vanderbilt University
Arthur Joyce Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado - Boulder
Ruth M. Van Dyke Professor, Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University, SUNY

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