REL 112

Archaeology and Religion

Archaeology combines science and history in an attempt to reconstruct ancient worlds. Like anthropology, it seeks to determine how people lived in ancient communities as reconstructed through their buildings, tools, and artifacts. Many disciplines combine to find and interpret material remains, ranging from biology to geology to historical records. Archaeology is more than just putting together a jigsaw puzzle or recreating the material cultures of remote periods. Archaeologists now want to find out not only how people lived and used their environment but also why they lived the way they did. What patterns of behavior occur and how did their lifestyles and material culture come to take the form they did? This course examines these concerns drawing on current theories paying particular attention to the way archaeology elucidates the role religious symbols, groups, and ideas structures the ancient world. Archaeological excavations in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions (notably Israel, Greece and the Crimea) provide case studies for understanding these concerns, especially for the Classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.