• Pagan Roman Religious Acculturation? An Inquiry into the Domestic Cult at Karanis, Ephesos and Dura-Europos: The First to Fifth Centuries CE

      Evans, Jane DeRose, 1956-; Bolman, Elizabeth S., 1960-; Betancourt, Philip P., 1936-; Rautman, Marcus Louis, 1955- (Temple University. Libraries, 2013)
      The ancient Roman domestic cult is often overlooked and marginalized in favor of state sponsored practices, monuments, and temples; yet it can give us insights into daily life, cultural interactions, and personal identity in the Empire. In my dissertation, I recreate a selection of domestic contexts in order to learn more about private cultic practices, thus illuminating those activities and behaviors that may be far removed from what appears in the literary sources or in monumental reliefs and paintings. Furthermore, the era considered is a crucial period in the history of the western world that included the rise of Christianity and dramatic changes in Roman pagan cults. By concentrating on the Roman East, I produce information relating to these changes outside of Italy and study the impact on cross-cultural exchanges and identities formulated by the Roman colonization of these cities. The Roman domestic cult in Italy invoked specific gods to maintain the well-being of the home in small shrines within the house. Material evidence for these practices survives in the form of statuettes and wall paintings of the gods, incense burners, and altars. Other divinities chosen by the head of the household could join or supplant the traditional domestic deities. These additions to private shrines acted as protective patron gods of the household and they reveal a personal relationship between deity and devotee. One barrier to the understanding of the domestic cult in its original context is the nature of multiculturalism in the Roman Empire. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, scholars tended to equate the Roman Empire with the concept of the modern nation-state. The Empire was seen as a cultural juggernaut that disseminated a uniform Roman identity that was sent out from Italy to the provinces. Evidence for "Romanization" was noted in the introduction of the Roman city plan, and Roman habits were seen in new types of public buildings such as baths or amphitheaters, the adoption of Roman coinage, the toga and the Latin language, and the introduction of Roman cults, especially the cult of the emperor. Most scholars today prefer to view the expansion of the Empire as a process that included reciprocal acculturation between natives and their Roman masters. Using this model, I examine religious cross-currents on a domestic scale, thus contributing to the current scholarly discussion. By exploring the cult in the home, we can get a better indication of the interaction between native and Roman in the private sphere. Scholars agree that we can learn more from smaller, regional studies; it cannot be assumed that the same things occurred in all parts of the empire and at all times. The case-study approach has replaced the sweeping and sometimes vague histories of years past. I have chosen three sites from the Roman East since they have an abundance of material evidence that has not been exploited to its full potential: Karanis (modern Egypt), Ephesos (modern Turkey), and Dura-Europos (modern Syria). The significance of my project is three-fold. I present previously unpublished material from important sites in the Roman East. By looking at these three sites, I expand the dialogue from the singular discussion of domestic religion in first-century Italy, thus enriching it substantially. Through the consideration of acculturation between east and west I contribute to the discussion of "Romanization" in the first to fifth centuries CE. By comparing these sites with those better published, such as Pompeii and Ostia (Rome's port, largely abandoned in the second half of the third into the fourth centuries), I can more clearly show the contrast between the two halves of the Empire. My goals will be to determine how (and if) "Romanization" can be seen in these locations, what the impact of local artistic styles and indigenous deities is, and how the reciprocal relationship manifests in daily religious practices within the home.