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The Cambridge History of Religions in the Ancient World
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    The Cambridge History of Religions in the Ancient World
    • Online ISBN: 9781139600507
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHO9781139600507
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Book description

The Cambridge History of Religions in the Ancient World provides a comprehensive examination of the history of the religions of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean world. The essays in these volumes have a broad reach, covering the ancient Near East and Mediterranean, and extending from the Bronze Age into the late Roman period. Its contributors, acknowledged experts in their fields, incorporate a wide spectrum of textual and material evidence into their analyses of their fields. The regional and historical orientations of the essays will enable readers to see how a religious tradition or movement assumed a distinctive local identity, as well as to understand how each tradition developed within its broader regional context. Supplemented with maps, illustrations and detailed indexes, these volumes will be an excellent reference tool for scholars and students.

Reviews

'The book is praiseworthy for the high scholarly quality of the essays that it comprises, many of which include tables, maps figures and vast bibliographies that extend beyond sheer cited references, but also suggest further readings on specific subject that may interest the reader.'

Source: Nordicum-Mediterraneum

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Page 1 of 3


  • 9 - Minoan Religion
    pp 237-255
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHO9781139600507.014
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Modern scholarly understanding of what constituted ancient Assyrian and Babylonian religion is complicated because Assyria and Babylonia were part of the Mesopotamian "stream of tradition". This chapter discusses the borders and history of Assyria and Babylonia because political changes in these areas over time affected the religions practiced there, keeping in mind that both are part of a larger Mesopotamian stream of tradition. It identifies the components focusing on Assyrian and Babylonian mythology, gods, temples, religious personnel, and ritual. The chapter describes the nature of Assyrian and Babylonian religions, their commonalities as well as their differences. Many of the ancient Near Eastern powers of the mid-second millennium fell apart toward the end of the century, and new peoples, such as the Arameans, entered the area, modifying what and who constituted Assyria and its religion. The deities in the Mesopotamian pantheon are depicted with strong, lively personalities and are quick to take action, sometimes to the detriment of humans.
  • 10 - Mycenaean Religion
    pp 256-279
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHO9781139600507.015
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The Hittites of second-millennium- BCE Anatolia, like all the peoples of the ancient Near East, perceived deities, demons, and the spirits of the dead to be involved in the most mundane aspects of existence, religion was for them an integral part of daily life. Artistic evidence for Hittite religion is provided by images of gods and goddesses in metal, ivory, and other valuable materials; by cylinder and stamp seals and their impressions on clay tablets, vessels, and bullae; by sculpture in low relief on rock faces and free-standing stones; and by ceramics featuring scenes of worship in relief. The explicit identifi cation of Anatolian with Hurrian deities is attested only in the Empire period. The universe of the Hittites was an integrated system, with no clear-cut boundaries among its levels. The programs of the state cult, probably the most numerous type of text among the surviving Hittite records, prescribe the course of worship in great detail.
  • 11 - Archaic and Classical Greek Religion
    pp 280-306
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHO9781139600507.016
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Zoroastrianism was the religion of peoples speaking Iranian languages who, coming from Central Asia circa 1000 BCE, settled on the Iranian Plateau. Among the Iranian tribes who migrated onto the Iranian Plateau around the turn of the millennium were the Medes, whose religious practices as described by the early Greek historians were Zoroastrian and the Persians, who formed the Achaemenid dynasty and practiced Zoroastrianism as known from the Avesta. The royal inscriptions, the Elamite tablets recording goods expended for religious services, and the theophoric proper names preserved in Babylonian, in the Aramaic letters from Elephantine and in Greek documents show that the main elements of Achaemenid religion were those of the Avesta. Archaeological remains provide some additional information about the rituals practiced by the Achaemenids. At Persepolis, for example, mortars and pestles were found that were used in the ritual for pounding the haoma, and, at Naqsh-e Rostam, two structures thought to be outdoor fire altars remain.
  • 12 - Etruscan Religion
    pp 309-335
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHO9781139600507.018
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Ancient Israelite and Judean religions emerge in the land of Canaan during the late-second millennium BCE. Israelite and Judean religious traditions focus on the worship of the deity, YHWH, and function especially as national or state religious traditions from the formation of the Israelite monarchy during the twelfth-tenth centuries BCE through the subsequent history of the separate kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Although Judean reform movements frequently emphasize the Jerusalem Temple as the central and exclusive sanctuary for the worship of YHWH, Israelite and Judean religions generally presuppose multiple sanctuaries. The proliferation of mother or mother-goddess figurines in Israel and Judah may represent vestiges of popular religion, Canaanite practice, or even earlier Israelite and Judean religious practice. Finally, prophets play an important role in both northern Israel and southern Judah as figures who communicate oracles from YHWH to the people.
  • 14 - Celtic Religion in Western and Central Europe
    pp 364-386
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHO9781139600507.020
  • View abstract
    Summary
    The study of Egyptian religion is complicated by the seemingly alien nature of Egyptian deities and beliefs when viewed from the perspective of cultures accustomed to an anthropomorphic deity or deities. Many early interpretations were guided by the preconception that monotheistic religions were more advanced than animist or polytheistic religions and that Egyptian religion should somehow progress from polytheism to monotheism. The Egyptians had no single version of cosmogony, the creation of the universe, but rather several accounts that varied over time and location. One of the most important is known today as the Heliopolitan Cosmogony because it derives from Heliopolis, the center of solar cult near the ancient capital, Memphis. The sun-god Ra and his travels through the heavens played a highly significant role in Egyptian religion, and many other deities were at times understood as manifestations of the sun-god. Festivals brought the human and divine worlds together at regular intervals.
  • Suggestions for Further Reading
    pp 387-392
  • https://doi.org/10.1017/CHO9781139600507.021
  • View abstract
    Summary
    Religious practice within the Phoenician and Punic city states remained largely a matter of local custom. Phoenician-Punic presence in the western Mediterranean lasted from the ninth century BCE until the fifth or sixth century CE. The so-called tophet of Carthage attracted attention chiefly because of the site's macabre association with infant sacrifice. From the perspective of world history, the Phoenicians built a trade diaspora, perhaps initiated in response to external stimuli, but rapidly taking new form through state-directed market development. The epigraphic sources provide ambiguous evidence that the Adonis myth was influential and enduring in Phoenician-Punic religious practice. One of the distinctive features of Phoenician-Punic mortuary rites now identifiable is a ritual involving the breaking of ceramic ware, particularly plates, cups, and jugs. Phoenicia was in long and sustained contact with the Greek world and exerted considerable influence on Greek religion. major deities of the Punic culture area before considering the rites of the tophet.

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