1st Edition

Excavating Pilgrimage Archaeological Approaches to Sacred Travel and Movement in the Ancient World

Edited By Troels Myrup Kristensen, Wiebke Friese Copyright 2017
    306 Pages 73 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    306 Pages 73 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume sheds new light on the significance and meaning of material culture for the study of pilgrimage in the ancient world, focusing in particular on Classical and Hellenistic Greece, the Roman Empire and Late Antiquity. It thus discusses how archaeological evidence can be used to advance our understanding of ancient pilgrimage and ritual experience. The volume brings together a group of scholars who explore some of the rich archaeological evidence for sacred travel and movement, such as the material footprint of different activities undertaken by pilgrims, the spatial organization of sanctuaries and the wider catchment of pilgrimage sites, as well as the relationship between architecture, art and ritual. Contributions also tackle both methodological and theoretical issues related to the study of pilgrimage, sacred travel and other types of movement to, from and within sanctuaries through case studies stretching from the first millennium BC to the early medieval period.

    List of figures


    Notes on contributors

    1. Introduction: Archaeologies of pilgrimage
    Wiebke Friese and Troels Myrup Kristensen

    2. Inter-cultural pilgrimage, identity, and the Axial Age in the ancient Near East
    Joy McCorriston

    3. Collective mysteries and Greek pilgrimage: The cases of Eleusis, Thebes and Andania
    Inge Nielsen

    4. Of piety, gender and ritual space: An archaeological approach to women’s sacred travel in Greece
    Wiebke Friese

    5. The pilgrim’s passage into the sanctuary of the Great Gods, Samothrace
    Bonna Wescoat

    6. Pilgrimage and procession in the Panhellenic festivals: Some observations on the Hellenistic Leukophryena in Magnesia-on-the-Meander
    Kristoph Jürgens

    7. Palimpsest and virtual presence: A reading of space and dedications at the Amphiareion at Oropos in the Hellenistic period
    Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis

    8. Roman healing pilgrimage north of the Alps
    Martin Grünewald

    9. Visiting the ancestors: Ritual movement in Rome’s urban borderland
    Saskia Stevens

    10. The pilgrim and the arch: Paths and passageways at Qal’at Sem’an, Sinai, Abu Mina, and Tebessa
    Ann Marie Yasin

    11. Movement as sacred mimesis at Abu Mena and Qal’at Sem’an
    Heather Hunter-Crawley

    12. The allure of the saint: Late antique pilgrimage to the monastery of St Shenoute
    Louise Blanke

    13. Excavating Meriamlik: Sacred space and economy in late antique pilgrimage
    Troels Myrup Kristensen

    14. Pilgrimage and multi-religious worship: Palestinian Mamre in Late Antiquity
    Vlastimil Drbal


    15. Excavating pilgrimage
    Jas’ Elsner

    16. Pilgrimage progress?
    Jan N. Bremmer



    Troels Myrup Kristensen is Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology at Aarhus University, Denmark. He is the director of the Sapere Aude-project "The Emergence of Sacred Travel: Experience, Economy and Connectivity in Ancient Mediterranean Pilgrimage" (2013–2017), funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research. His research interests are pilgrimage, visual culture and cultural heritage.

    Wiebke Friese was until recently Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of History and Classical Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark, as part of the project, "The Emergence of Sacred Travel: Experience, Economy and Connectivity in Ancient Mediterranean Pilgrimage" (2013–2017). She has published on oracle sanctuaries and Athenian women’s festivals.

    "an important and welcome [volume]"

    - Alexander Meyer, University of Western Ontario, Canada, The Classical Review 2019