Excavating Pilgrimage: Archaeological Approaches to Sacred Travel and Movement in the Ancient World, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Excavating Pilgrimage

Archaeological Approaches to Sacred Travel and Movement in the Ancient World, 1st Edition

Edited by Troels Myrup Kristensen, Wiebke Friese


292 pages | 73 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472453907
pub: 2017-02-16
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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.


"an important and welcome [volume]"

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

Table of Contents

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


About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Pilgrimage, Religious Travel and Tourism

The public prominence of religion has increased globally in recent years, while places associated with religion, such as pilgrimage centers, and famous cathedrals, temples and shrines, have attracted growing numbers of visitors and media attention. Such developments are part of a global process where different forms of travel – physical movement such as labor and lifestyle migration, tourism of various forms, the cultural heritage industry and pilgrimage – have become a major feature of the modern world. These translocal and transnational processes involve flows of not just people but also material objects, ideas, information, images and capital.

The public prominence of religion aligned to the modern growth of tourism (sometimes now claimed as the world’s single largest industry) has created a new dynamic relationship between religion, travel and tourism. It has been mirrored by expanding academic research in these areas over the last twenty years across a variety of disciplinary areas, ranging from anthropology, sociology, geography, history and religious studies to newly emergent areas such as tourism and migration studies. Such studies have also expanded exponentially in terms of the geographic spread of places, religions and regions being researched.

This series provides a new forum for studies based around these themes, drawing together research on the relationships between religion, travel and tourism. These include studies from global and cross-cultural perspectives of topics, such as:

  • commoditization and consumerism;
  • media representations of religion, travel and tourism;
  • heritage, tourism and the cultural politics of religious representation;
  • gender, sexuality and religious movements;
  • religion and travel writing;
  • ideological and violent struggles over religion and resistance to tourist intrusion;
  • inter-religious engagement;
  • religion, tourism, landscape and performance; and
  • thanatourism and pilgrimage to sites of suffering.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Ancient / General