Book Series Contextualizing the Sacred, vol. 12

Magnification and Miniaturization in Religious Communications in Antiquity and Modernity

Materialities and Meanings

Elisabeth Begemann, Diana Pavel, Georgia Petridou, Anna-Katharina Rieger, Rubina Raja, Jörg Rüpke (eds)

  • Pages: xiv + 230 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:47 b/w, 72 col., 3 maps b/w, 1 maps color
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60479-4
  • Paperback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60480-0
  • E-book
  • Available


Human agents might not be the measure of all things. Nonetheless, human bodies, and their bodily dimensions, often are, with size impacting on the ways in which we conceive of, interact with, and relate to the world around us. The scaling up or down of features — magnification and miniaturization — is particularly evident in the creation of anthropogenic items intended for use in religious ritual, and here sizing can be employed as a deliberate strategy to encourage shock and awe, admiration and deterrence, among spectators.

Taking as its starting point the concept of ‘materialities and meanings’, this volume explores how human perceptions and understanding of magnified and miniaturized forms and structures are shaped and changed, both synchronically and diachronically, by our understanding of the human body and its size, and the impact that this has in our relationship with the wider world in the context of ritual practices. The chapters collected here consider a range of questions, from a discussion on the essentials of magnification or miniaturization to an exploration of the impact of such strategies on humans and their wider socio-political ramifications. Together, these chapters contribute to a unique discussion that offers new insights into ‘materialities and meanings’, the creation of items for ritual, and the ways in which they influence human perception and understanding.


List of Illustrations


1. Magnification and Miniaturization in Religious Communication in Antiquity and Modernity: Materialities and Meanings
Elisabeth Begemann, Diana Pavel, Georgia Petridou, Rubina Raja, Anna-Katharina Rieger, and Jörg Rüpke


2. Look Closely and You Will See: The Banqueting Tesserae from Palmyra and Small-Scale Iconography
Rubina Raja

3. The Material Record of Micro-Shares: An Archaeological Case Study on Sanctuary Transactions in Ancient Sicily
Natascha Sojc

4. What Do Tiny Objects Want? A Case Study with Miniature Pottery from Pompeii
Anna-Katharina Rieger

5. Are the Same Objects Desirable for People and for Gods? Material and Dimensional Interchangeability
Elisabeth Trinkl


6. Scaling Altars in the Etruscan Funerary Sphere
Diana Pavel

7. Urban Monumentality and Religion
Jörg Rüpke

8. Perceptions of Changing Religious Landscapes in Augustan Rome
Devmini Malka Wijeratne

9. The King and the Population as Protagonists of the Oath: Intermediatory Semantics in Ancient Near Eastern Treaties
Elena Malagoli

Domestic Space

10. Small, Versatile, Numinous: Pagan-Mythological Statuettes at the End of Antiquity
Ine Jacobs

11. The Dancing Deity: Diminishing the Goddess Libertas on the Palatine
Elisabeth Begemann

12. Di Penates: From Small Objects to Anthropomorphic Gods
Peter Scherrer

The Fragmented and the Augmented Body

13. The Eyes Have It: Materialities, Monumentality, and Meanings in Eye-shaped Modern Greek tamata and Ancient Greek anathemata
Georgia Petridou

14. A Triangle of Mary: Relating Religious Artefacts to Non-Religious Lorry Drivers
Manuel Moser