Ideology, power and religious change in antiquity

Plakat_IPRCA2015Ideology, Power and Religious Change in Antiquity, 3000 BC – AD 600 (IPRCA)

International Summer School organized by Graduate School of Humanities Göttingen (GSGG)

20 – 24 July 2015, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Archäologisches Institut und Sammlung der Gipsabgüsse)

In the modern world, political as well as religious leaders make use of ideological messages to legitimize and advertise their power. Especially during periods of transformation and change, it is important for leaders to demonstrate their strengths and capacities in order to unify their subjects. By presenting themselves as the right men in the right place they could win their subjects’ loyalty and thus legitimize and safeguard their own positions. This practice is however not a modern invention, it is rooted in ancient traditions and habits.

The summer school focuses on ideological messages communicated by leaders in the ancient world (Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome, c. 3000 BC – AD 600) during periods of religious change (periods characterized by the rise, expansion or dominance of new religions, specific religious factions, sects or cults that caused changes in or threatened existing social, religious and/or power structures). Which messages were communicated by central and local authorities as well as specific religious authorities in these epochs? What do these messages tell us about the nature of power exercised by leaders?

The pre-arranged sessions to discusse the different subjects and questions are:

  • Session 1 Ancient Mesopotamia
  • Session 2 Ancient Anatolia, Levant and Iran
  • Session 3 Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World
  • Session 4 Roman Republic and Empire
  • Session 5 The Byzantine Empire


20 July 2015

  • Piotr Steinkeller (Harvard) – The divine rulers of Akkade and Ur: toward a definition of the divination of kings in Ancient Mesopotamia
  • Erika Marsal (Vienna) – Royal ideology in the time of Isin and Larsa
  • Gina Konstantopoulos (Michigan) – Religion, politics, and the periphery: representations and utilizations of the gods in the Mesopotamian frontier
  • Shana Zaia (Yale) – Cults and capitals: royal cities and religion in the Neo-Assyrian Empire

21 July 2015

  • Eckart Frahm (Yale) – Philology, politics, performance, and natural philosophy: Interpretations of the Babylonian Epic of Creation in the first millennium BCE
  • Annick Payne (Basel) – Propaganda or new religious language? The Hieroglyphic inscriptions of the late Hittite Empire reconsidered
  • Sofia Salo (Münster) – The Royal Psalm 72 as an example for changes in royal ideology
  • Jason Silverman (Helsinki) – Prophecy as medium for negotiating religion and secular authority
  • Shervin Farridnejad (Berlin) – Kings and clerics. Ideology, power and religious authority in the ancient Iranian world: a Zoroastrian view

22 July 2015

  • Paola Ceccarelli (Cambridge) – Religion and communication in the Seleucid kingdom
  • Stephan Prütting (Münster) – A matter of foreign policy? The cult of the Thracian goddess Bendis in Athens
  • Gunnar Dumke (Halle) – Eusebes kai dikaios. The promotion of Indian religions by Bactrian and Indo-Greek kings
  • Lydia Kappa (Berlin) – A “Game of Thrones”: legitimate power and the political propaganda of the Antigonid dynasty

23 July 2015

  • Olivier Hekster (Nijmegen) – Anchoring religious change: faces of power and problems of understanding
  • Michèle Meijer (Amsterdam) – Roman attitudes towards the galli of Magna Mater: a cross-cultural approach
  • Nirvana Silnović (Budapest) – Mithras between the two eyes of the earth
  • Adam Littlestone-Luria (Berkeley) – Emperor worship in transition: imperial cults and their fate in the third century
  • Sophie Röder (Frankfurt) – Valerian, Gallienus and Christians: continuities, changes and pragmatics of imperial communication in the third century AD

24 July 2015

  • Carlos Noreña (Berkeley) – Religion, government, and social order in the Ancient World
  • Pavla Gkantzios Drapelova (Athens) – The expression of power, ideology and Christianity on coins of the Justinian dynasty (518 – 602)
  • Patrick Brimioulle (Frankfurt) – Strategies, possibilities and limits of enforcing theological formulas: the examples of the emperors Anastasius (491 – 518) and Justinian (527 – 565)
  • Vangelis Maladakis (Thessaloniki) – Propaganda and numismatic iconography in the twilight of the Roman world. The long sixth century (518 – 602)