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We are excited to announce a colloquium on private material religion hosted by the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London, on 6 and 7 June 2024. We would like to invite proposals from postgraduate students and early career academics in the field of archaeology. The colloquium will explore the boundaries and intersections between ‘private’ and ‘public’ religion in material culture. We invite submissions from a wide range of time periods and cultures across the ancient Mediterranean (broadly conceived). The colloquium thus aims to facilitate a cross-cultural perspective of ancient religious practice.

Most research on ancient material religion tends to focus on what is publicly displayed, centrally commissioned, and monumentalised. There is, however, a wealth of archaeological material also attesting to private and individualised religious rituals. These rituals could be conducted within the household or among small community groups, independent of the ‘state’. Although private religious practice often reflects the grammar of religious power visible in public religion, the context and social significance of the worship tends to be quite different. Religion could be practised within the household, by minority groups, and what can sometimes even be described as ‘magic’, all of which manifests itself in material culture in a manner distinct from the literary record.

We would like to invite abstracts guided by any of the following questions:

 · What constitutes ‘private’ religious practice, and how, if at all, can we neatly separate this from public/state religion?

 · How does ‘private’ religious practice, as it manifests itself in the material record, reinforce or challenge traditional structures of religious power?

 · How spontaneous or independent were these examples of ‘private’ religion?

 · How does ‘magic’ fit into our definitions of ‘private’ religious practice?

We are particularly interested in the elusive boundaries between what is ‘private’ and what is part of a wider communal and state-sponsored experience. The colloquium will offer an opportunity to interrogate these boundaries, intersections, and tensions between private and public religious practice, as they appear in the material record.

The colloquium is designed for in-person participation and discussion. We can, however, accommodate some remote speakers should they be unable to attend in person. Limited funding for travel to the colloquium may be available, especially for graduate students.

Papers will be twenty minutes, with ten minutes for questions. Lunches, refreshments, and dinner for the first night will be provided to speakers.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to both and by Friday 8 December.