Wednesday, June 7, 2017


M. Bolder-Boos, D. Maschek (ed.), Orte der Forschung, Orte des Glaubens: neue Perspektiven für Heiligtümer in Italien von der Archaik bis zur Späten Republik. Akten der internationalen Tagung in Darmstadt am 19. und 20. Juli 2013. Bonn: Dr. Rudolf Habelt Verlag, 2016. Pp. viii,189. ISBN 9783774939790. €79.00.

Reviewed by Ingrid Edlund-Berry, The University of Texas at Austin (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

The obvious advantage of a volume based on conference proceedings is that it is likely to include many topics covered by scholars whose combined knowledge may surpass that of any individual author. At the same time, while each paper and the introductory comments will address the overall theme of the conference, it may be difficult to identify the cohesiveness of the topics covered or the most important conclusions that the reader can gain from the proceedings. While this phenomenon is by no means limited to the volume discussed here, as readers we will need to evaluate each contribution separately and regard the title of the proceedings as a convenient reference point rather than as a unified topic such as what one would expect from a monograph. Thus, in this volume the two topics that seem to reappear in the individual papers, the distinction between indigenous cultures and the traditions of newcomers, and the impact of the so-called Romanization, are addressed from different points of view and with different emphasis.

Following a brief introduction by the editors, the first section of the book addresses sacred spaces presented in four papers ranging from discussions of Etruscan harbor towns to the cult of Fortuna Augusta in Pompeii. The first paper, by Marion Bolder-Boos, introduces the three harbors at Etruscan Gravisca and Pyrgi and at S. Omobono in Rome and compares the evidence for local as well as international themes in terms of cult buildings and forms of worship. While Gravisca and Pyrgi are commonly discussed in Etruscan contexts, it is interesting to see the much-studied site of S. Omobono singled out from Rome proper and treated as an international port.1

The second paper, by Dieta Svoboda, incorporates the mixture of traditions that seem to have influenced the Greek colony of Elea/Velia in Lucania as seen primarily in the form of three sanctuaries, referred to as Kultplatz 4, 6, and 7. Of these, Kultplatz 4 contains remains of small stone enclosures, naiskoi, used as receptacles for votive offerings, of a type also known from the site of Roccagloriosa in Campania. Kultplatz 6 is characterized by a square space that is common also at a number of Lucanian sanctuaries, whereas Kultplatz 7 features a small rectangular temple and a second building, an oikos. In its latest phase, early second century B.C., the layout of the temple closely resembles that of Republican Roman temples, suggesting the arrival of Romanization in the city.

The third paper, by Valentino Gasparini, focuses on the temple of Fortuna Augusta at Pompeii, located to the north of the forum in Region VII. While the placement of such an important temple may seem surprising, Gasparini makes a case for linking the temple to the forum through the Porticus Tulliana which was placed in front of the temple, along the east side of the Via del Foro.

The fourth paper, by Annalisa Calapà, serves as a transition to the next section by raising the important question about how we interpret the cults at Etruscan sanctuaries. The common appearance of modest votives, in particular the so- called anatomical votives, placed as offerings at living springs, is usually interpreted as evidence for healing sanctuaries, where the votives may represent either prayers for healing or gratitude for restored health. Since inscriptions are scarce in Etruscan sanctuaries of any kind, the material remains do not define the name of the deities worshipped, and the variety of offerings could easily apply to the whole pantheon of gods and goddesses. There is no easy solution to the problem of identification, but rather than downplaying or eliminating the healing aspects of Etruscan cults, the multitude of anatomical votives of any shape would suggest an interest in the human body, and as offerings they may well indicate a generic concern with life and therefore health as well as healing.

The second section includes three papers on the subject of votive offerings and dedication practices, ranging from the terminology of votive pits to votives in Magna Graecia and Latium. The first paper, by Andreas Murgan, provides a useful and needed discussion of the terminology used for areas of placement of votives in sanctuaries, whether in neatly lined stone containers, covered or uncovered, or loosely heaped in dug pits. The names vary from Greek and Latin words to modern terms that can be applied in a general sense to anything underground, and some refer to specific types of objects, such as coins. Since most of these terms seem to be embedded in archaeological terminology and not likely to be changed, Murgan suggests a practical solution that emphasizes the importance of careful descriptions of the placement of votives, regardless of the term used.

The second paper, by Cathrin Schmitt, ties in with the earlier paper on Elea/Velia in that it focuses on the religious practices in sanctuaries that experienced a flow of influences from the Greek, indigenous Lucanian, and Roman inhabitants. The sites discussed include Lamia di San Francesco at Timmari in Lucania, and the sanctuary of S. Venera at Paestum in Campania. Comparable to the layout of the sanctuaries at Elea/Velia, the votive offerings at these two sites suggest that indigenous and Greek traditions were mixed.. The changes brought about by Romanization are difficult to pinpoint, primarily because of the trade contacts that existed regardless of political domination.

The third paper, by Marleen Termeer, reflects on the issue of religious Romanization and its impact on the Latin colonies. Focusing on two different types of objects, bronze statuettes of Hercules and life-size terracotta statues and heads, Termeer links the bronze statuettes to finds at Alba Fucens and the terracotta statues to Luceria and compares them to similar finds throughout the Italian peninsula. Although Rome may have acted as the main political force, the types of votives that were created and used in areas to some degree dominated by the Romans indicate that the pattern of political influence and artistic expression was much more complicated than suggesting a 'Roman connection' as the main source for anything created outside Rome.

The third section of papers is directed at sacred architecture exemplified by the monumental sanctuary at Praeneste and other sites and by the placement of altars in Samnite sanctuaries. The first paper, by Dominik Maschek, addresses the importance of interpreting the form and decoration of sanctuaries as intimately dependent on their placement and on the decisions made by the local magistrates who were in charge of the planning as well as the financing. The conclusion that "The Architecture never allows itself to be separated from its location" is well applied to many types of buildings, not just the ones discussed here.

The second paper, by Alessandro D'Alessio, moves from viewing the overall concept of Roman architecture, referred to as "Total Architecture", to the specific changes that allowed for new and unexpected forms thanks to the invention of opus caementicium. This new technology introduced arches and vaults into the language of sanctuary planning, and, to follow the theme of the previous paper, allowed the layout of buildings to adapt to the demands of the landscape. A prime example is the sanctuary at Praeneste, but also the temples at Gabii, Tivoli, and Pietrabbondante.

The third paper, by Andrea Carini, continues the discussion of the sanctuary at Praeneste, but now in the context of the widespread re-building and expansion of sanctuaries all through Italy as a result of economic opportunities created by Roman expansion throughout the Mediterranean in the second-first centuries B.C. Although Rome may have served as a model for the settlements in different parts of Italy, each community seems to have effectively dealt with the perceived need to create more elaborate sanctuaries, be it in Latium, in Samnite territory, in Lucania/Basilicata, or other areas.

The fourth paper, by Claudia Widow, focuses on the form of altars used in the Samnite sanctuaries at Atessa, Pietrabbondante, Schiavi d'Abruzzo, and Vastogirardi. These vary in terms of construction and size, and the lack of altars at other Samnite sites raises the question of why and where they were used. Of particular interest is the large altar at Pietrabbondante, the mouldings of which will serve as a useful springboard for continued research.

This volume contains important and interesting papers, and the abstracts serve to introduce the topics of each. Although covering a wide range of topics, common denominators include cultural interactions between the different peoples of Italy and expressions of religious practices in architecture as well as in cult practices.

The volume is nicely bound, but it may be that many readers like myself are so used to reading narrow columns that the width of the text on the page is difficult to follow visually, and it is very unfortunate (although probably dictated by the cost) that the illustrations are separated from the text. As always, one would wish for more illustrations (again a cost factor), but the ones included are of high quality except for the maps, many of which include names in miniscule font size. The bibliographies are extensive and will guide readers to important and recent publications. An index would have been helpful to students who are looking for specific topics. Because of the centrality of the themes of the papers, this volume is a useful addition to any research library used by graduate students and faculty.

Table of Contents

Teil I: Sakrale Räume
Marion Bolder-Boos, Begegnung von Göttern, Begegnung von Menschen—die Heiligtümer von Gravisca, Pyrgi und, S. Omobono in Rom als Kontaktzonen zwischen Etruskern, Phöniziern, Griechen und Römern
Dieta Svoboda, Gleiche Zeiten—andere Sitten? Uberlegungen zu den Sakralzonen in Elea/Velia
Valentino Gasparini, Engineering of the Sacred—The Mechanics of Introducing the Cult of Fortuna Augusta in Pompeii
Annalisa Calapà, Heiligtümer für Heilgottheiten im republikanischen und fruhkaiserzeitlichen Etrurien

Teil II: Votivgaben und Weihepraxis
Andreas M. Murgan, Bothros, Favissa und Co.—Von rituellen Löchern und ihren Bezeichnungen
Cathrin Schmitt, Persistere und Wandel in der Weihgabenpraxis in Heiligtumern der Magna Graecia
Marieen K. Termeer, Votives in Latin colonies: a perspective beyond religious Romanization

Teil III: Sakralarchitektur
Dominik Maschek, Architekturlandschaften. Eine phànomenologische Analyse spätrepublikanischer Heiligtümer
Alessandro D'Alessio
Italie Sanctuaries and the Onset of the "Total Architecture"—Some Observations on the Phenomenon
Andrea Carini, I grandi santuari dell Italia tra il II e il I secolo a.C
Claudia Widow
Uberlegungen zum Aufstellungskontext von Altären in samnitischen Heiligtümern des 2. Jh. v. Chr


1.   See most recently A. Brock, "Envisioning Rome's Prehistoric River Harbor: An Interim Report from the Forum Boarium," Etruscan Studies 19:1 (2016): 1-22.

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