Dedicating objects to the divine was a central component of both Greek and Roman religion. Some of the most conspicuous offerings were shaped like parts of the internal or external human body: so-called ‘anatomical votives’. These archaeological artefacts capture the modern imagination, recalling vividly the physical and fragile bodies of the past whilst posing interpretative challenges in the present. This volume scrutinises this distinctive dedicatory phenomenon, bringing together for the first time a range of methodologically diverse approaches which challenge traditional assumptions and simple categorisations. The chapters presented here ask new questions about what constitutes an anatomical votive, how they were used and manipulated in cultural, cultic and curative contexts and the complex role of anatomical votives in negotiations between humans and gods, the body and its disparate parts, divine and medical healing, ancient assemblages and modern collections and collectors. In seeking to re-contextualise and re-conceptualise anatomical votives this volume uniquely juxtaposes the medical with the religious, the social with the conceptual, the idea of the body in fragments with the body whole and the museum with the sanctuary, crossing the boundaries between studies of ancient religion, medicine, the body and the reception of antiquity.
"…this volume accomplishes its goals well and paves the way for future studies on anatomical votives beyond the typological. The authors show that such dedications were not limited to the healing sanctuaries of Classical Greece and that their meanings went beyond simple equations between object and body."
- Debby Sneed, University of California, Los Angeles, USA, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018
"The editors' introduction lays out the inherent problems, challenges, and questions related to this material, such as definitions and terminology, ancient contexts, medical significance, and meanings with the religious setting. This is an ambitious attempt to bring together many different types, times, and places of relevance, as well as to present 'deliberately diverse approaches' to the archaeological material. Also welcome are chapters that incorporate the appearance of anatomical votices in modern art or their role in modern collecting … Several themes cut across the chapters, including gender, age, and social status, as well as physical appearance, sexuality, reproduction, and personhood."
- Tyler Jo Smith, University of Virginia, USA, Religious Studies Review 2017
"Although it is focused on Classical Antiquity strictly defined, the work will be of interest to Byzantinist-historians of medicine as it opens new perspectives for the analysis of an archeological genre all too often neglected."
-Touwaide, Byzantinische Zeitschrift issue 110 (= 2017/4).
"In short, the essays assembled in this volume offer a rich and rewarding assortment of perspectives from which to view the practice of dedicating the material representation of a body part at a sanctuary of later curating such an object in a collection focused on medical history or reimagining the fragmented human body in a work of art.;
- Rebecca Miller Ammerman, Colgate University, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 2018
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Debating the Anatomical Votive
Emma-Jayne Graham and Jane Draycott
Chapter 1: Corpora in Connection: Anatomical Votives and the Confession Stelai of Lydia and Phrygia
Chapter 2: Partible Humans and Permeable Gods: Anatomical Votives and Personhood in the Sanctuaries of Central Italy
Chapter 3: Anatomical Votives (and Swaddled Babies): from Republican Italy to Roman Gaul
Olivier de Cazanove
Chapter 4: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Use of Real, False and Artificial Hair as Votive Offerings
Chapter 5: Demeter as an Ophthalmologist? Eye Votives and the Cult of Demeter and Kore
Chapter 6: Wombs for the Gods
Chapter 7: Ritual and Meaning: Contextualising Votive Terracotta Infants in Hellenistic Italy
Chapter 8: The foot as gnṓrisma
Chapter 9: The Open Man: Anatomical Votive Busts Between the History of Medicine and Archaeology
Chapter 10: Fragmentation and the Body’s Boundaries: Reassessing the Body in Parts
Chapter 11: Votive Genitalia in the Wellcome Collection: Modern Receptions of Ancient Sexual Anatomy
Chapter 12: Votive Futures: an Afterword
Medicine and the Body in Antiquity is a series which fosters interdisciplinary research that broadens our understanding of past beliefs about the body and its care. The intention of the series is to use evidence drawn from diverse sources (textual, archaeological, epigraphic) in an interpretative manner to gain insights into the medical practices and beliefs of the ancient Mediterranean. The series approaches medical history from a broad thematic perspective that allows for collaboration between specialists from a wide range of disciplines outside ancient history and archaeology such as art history, religious studies, medicine, the natural sciences and music. The series will also aim to bring research on ancient medicine to the attention of scholars concerned with later periods. Ultimately this series provides a forum for scholars from a wide range of disciplines to explore ideas about the body and medicine beyond the confines of current scholarship.
For further information about contributing to the series please contact Dr Patty Baker at [email protected]