Book Series Contextualizing the Sacred, vol. 6

Expressions of Cult in the Southern Levant in the Greco-Roman Period

Manifestations in Text and Material Culture

Oren Tal, Zeev Weiss (eds)

  • Pages: 290 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:199 b/w, 3 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2017

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-55335-1
  • Paperback
  • Available

Cultic Manifestations in the Southern Levant in the Greco-Roman Period


“(…) most readers will be grateful for the rich variety of topics and disciplinary approaches incorporated in this volume. Without trying to be inclusive, we can cite many topics that are explored with impressive depth and, in every case, careful, astute scholarship (…) Many other indications and examples of special expertise and sound approach could be cited further to commend this very fine book.” (Jeffrey Brodd, in Scripta Classical Israelica, 37, 2018, p. 206)

“In some cases, the aims of the seminar have resulted in thought-provoking entries that point to further exploration. It is to be hoped that such interdisciplinary efforts multiply, as we seek to understand the complexity of the ancient world.” (Jane DeRose Evans, in American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 122/4, October 2018)

“Concluding, major advantages of this volume are its interdisciplinary perspective, the collections of topics that would be difficult to find elsewhere in a single volume, as well as the presentation and analysis of until now unpublished archaeological material by researchers who are active in fieldwork in the region. The format of the volume, supported by many illustrations, aids the reader in following the content. (…) It is a valuable work, offering a wealth of information and analytical interpretations without veering towards the abstruse or the arcane.” (Eleftheria Pappa, in Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXV, 1/2, 2018, p. 182)

“Die Abbildungen und Zeichnungen sind qualitativ gut bis befriedigend und ermuntern zu weiterführenden Forschungen. Den Herausgebern der Reihe ‘Contextualizing the Sacred’, als deren sechster Band das vorliegende Sammelwerk erschienen ist, darf man zusammen mit den Autoren zu dieser Bereicherung der Kenntnis der Archäologie und Religionsgeschichte Palästinas gratulieren.” (Thomas M. Weber-Karyotakis, in GNOMON, 91/6, 2019, p. 538-539)

“In sum, the volume presents a colourful mosaic of cultic life in the southern Levant, demonstrating also how much is still to be done.” (Ulf Scharrer, in Ancient West and East, 20, 2021, p. 470)


The arrival of Alexander the Great in the southern Levant ushered in many changes, and the subsequent period saw many more upheavals, including the Roman conquest, the Jewish revolts, and the gradual Christianization of the Holy Land. Throughout this period, many local ‘pagan’, Jewish, and Christian cults and cultic places dotted the local landscape of the southern Levant, which today covers the area of Israel, Jordan, and parts of Lebanon and southern Syria. These cults underwent processes of profound change, but also preserved much of their older identities while still interacting with each other.

This volume seeks to present these processes both synchronically and diachronically, along three different axes – cultic places, personnel, and objects. The common denominator shared by these three axes is the people whose beliefs and practices shaped religious behaviour in the Greco-Roman southern Levant. The 18 articles in this volume investigate whether cultic practices formed a coherent cultural system. They consider the co-existence and competition of the different religious systems, analyzing them in terms of continuity, discontinuity, and change over an extended period of time, roughly from the arrival of Alexander the Great to the Imperial integration of Christianity (ca. late fourth century BCE - early fifth century CE). The approaches presented in the volume are varied and interdisciplinary, combining archaeological, philological, historical, and art-historical analyses of multiple bodies of evidence.


List of Illustrations

Expressions of Cult in the Southern Levant in the Greco-Roman Period: Introductory Remarks — OREN TAL AND ZEEV WEISS

Part I: Cult in Context

Cults in Contexts in Hellenistic and Roman Southern Levant: The Challenge of Cult Places — NICOLE BELAYCHE

Cult and Culture: Amusing the Crowds under the Auspices of Gods and Caesars — ZEEV WEISS

Aurelian and the Cult of the Unconquerable Sun: The Institutionalization of Christmas, Solar Worship and Imperial Cult — MICHELE RENEE SALZMAN

The Beginnings of Philosophy of Religion and the Fate of Polytheism in the Late Antique Levant — ROBERT LAMBERTON

Part II: Cult and Cult Places in the Urban Sphere

People and Gods in the Cities of Roman Palestine: A Preliminary Inquiry into the Popularity of Civic Cults — AVNER ECKER

Deities at the Service of Cities and PeopleL Sculpted Images from Caesarea Maritima — RIVKA GERSHT

Markers of Pagan Cults in a Jewish City: Rethinking the Hadrianeum of Tiberias — SHULAMIT MILLER

Part III: Cultic Practices beyond the Temple Premises

Votive Offerings from the Late Roman Period in the Te’omim Cave, Western Jerusalem Hills — BOAZ ZISSU, EITAN KLEIN, URI DAVIDOVICH, RO’I PORAT, BOAZ LANGFORD, AND AMOS FRUMKIN


A Mediterranean Overview on Painted Motifs in the Southern Levant — ALIX BARBET

(Presumable) Cultic Artefacts from Domestic Contexts at Dora — RENATE ROSENTHAL-HEGINBOTTOM

Magic in the Cemeteries of Late Antique Palestine — GIDEON BOHAK

More Than Trash: Cultic Use of Pottery Lamps Found in Late Antique Dumps: Apollonia (Sozousa) as a Test Case — OREN TAL AND ITAMAR TAXEL

Part IV: Coins as Evidencing Cult

Coin Iconography and Archaeology: Methodological Considerations about Architectural Depictions on City Coins of Palestine — ACHIM LICHTENBERGER

Heroes and Deities on the Coins of Gaza under Roman Rule: The Case of Io, the Argive Nymph and Minos, The Mythic King of Crete — YOAV FARHI

Unpublished Coin Type of a Nursing Woman — GABRIELA BIJOVSKY

Part V: Cult-related Issues of Jewish Faith

Temple, Cult, and Consumption in Second Temple Jerusalem — HAYIM LAPIN

Debt Fraud, Ḥērem Entrapment, and Other Crimes Involving Cultic Property in Late Hellenistic and Early Roman Judea — BENJAMIN D. GORDON

The Decline of Jewish Ritual Purity Observance in Roman Palaestina: An Archaeological Perspective on Chronology and Historical Context — YONATAN ADLER