Are curse tablets votives?

Stuart McKie is Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at The University of Manchester. He recently completed his PhD at The Open University, with a thesis entitled ‘The Social Significance of Curse Tablets in the North-Western Roman Provinces’. At last year’s combined Roman and Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (RAC/TRAC) held at the Sapienza University in…

When is a womb not a womb?

Helen King is Professor Emerita in Classical Studies at the Open University. She has a particular interest in midwifery and gynaecology and has published widely on ancient medicine and its reception, as well as gender and the history of the body. Is it time to revisit the identification of votive body parts? Specifically, votive wombs;…

Things that matter(-ed): A biography of anatomical votive reliefs

  Anne-Lieke Brem, is currently a Masters student at the University of Groningen, studying both Archaeology and Cultural Geography. Her recent research focuses on the social landscape of illness and disease in ancient Greece (500-200 BC). In this article for The Votives Project she reflects on how this project has prompted her to think more critically about the biography and…

New book on ancient anatomical votives!

Bodies of Evidence: Ancient Anatomical Votives Past, Present and Future is a new edited volume just published by Routledge as part of a new series on ‘Medicine and the Body in Antiquity’. The volume, edited by Jane Draycott (University of Glasgow) and Emma-Jayne Graham (The Open University / The Votives Project), is based on a…

Letters to Juliet

35 Millimeters of Love and Faith

Alyssa Velazquez is currently a Masters student at Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. Her publications include “Tupperware: An Open Container During A Decade of Containment” in Women’s History Magazine and Men and Manolos: Love and Relationships in the Heels of a Hopeless Romantic. In this article for The Votives Project,…

Votive visions of the body

At the risk of over-sharing, I’ve had a few health issues over the last year (I’m fine!) that have made me think in new ways about how we understand what ancient anatomical votives might tell us about how people understood their bodies and their relationship with divine healers. In the ancient world it seems to…

Tabitha Moses installation view

The Go Between, by Tabitha Moses

Often, on holiday, I seek out the sacred wells, the ribbon-tied trees and the chapels full of objects and notes asking for help or giving thanks. Out of curiosity, plain nosiness; I’m drawn to the glimpse into another’s life, or death. Why is that? Do I find comfort that someone else has it worse than…

Votives for Artemis

Votives for Artemis – a Practitioner’s View

For several years now, a group of women from different spiritual backgrounds in the South of England has been engaged in the honouring of Artemis; as a group in a sacred grove in Kent, and as individuals in their own homes. Part of the ritual tradition has been the offering of votives, and this post…

Donna Ruff's 'Paper Offerings'

Donna Ruff’s Book Art as ‘Votive IN Offering’

Urmila Mohan is a postdoctoral fellow at Amnh-Bgc, currently researching the aesthetics, materiality and history of textiles collected by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson in the 1930s in Bali. According to Jewish tradition there are three kinds of peace offerings. The votive offering (as distinct from the thank and free-will offering) is defined as something…

Ex votos in Pompeii – an interview with Monsignor Pietro Caggiano

This week I interviewed Monsignor Pietro Caggiano of the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in Pompeii – home to a significant collection of ex votos which has accumulated since the Sanctuary’s foundation at the end of the nineteenth century. Monsignor Caggiano has written about the theology of ex votos, and he is currently curating an exhibition of ancient…

Banner carried by fujenti

The Festival of the Madonna dell’Arco

Earlier this week I visited the Catholic sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Arco in Campania on the day of its annual festival, which takes place every Easter Monday (or ‘Lunedi in Albis’). The festival centres around the battenti or fujenti – guilds of devoted pilgrims who walk or run to the church from towns and villages across…

Ceramic medallion with image of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow.

Of Things Taken and Left Behind: A Visit to a Russian Cemetery in France

Urmila Mohan earned her doctorate in anthropology from University College London. She is the editor of the Material Religions blog. She recently published “Dressing God: Clothing as Material of Religious Subjectivity in a Hindu Group”, in the edited volume “The Social Life of Materials: Studies in Materials and Society.” In November 2015, I visited the Russian cemetery (le…

A votive offering at the tomb of Abdul Salaam ibn Mashish, an important wali of Morocco

The City of Saints: Seeking the Friends of God in Fes

Peter Dziedzic is a Fulbright grantee studying Sufism in Morocco. Among his interests are the practices of pilgrimage and saint veneration in the ancient city of Fes. Peter will soon expand his research on these phenomena to other parts of the Islamic world. He eventually hopes to pursue comparative work on sainthood in Christianity and…

Material and Sensual Religion Workshop

The following workshop took place in Milton Keynes on Wednesday 4th November, hosted by the Open University. Follow this link to read a Storify of the proceedings. Material and Sensual Religion, Past and Present: A Workshop  Wednesday 4th November, The Orchard Room, Hotel Mercure Milton Keynes Parkside House 10 – 10.30 Arrival, welcome and coffee/tea 10.30 –…

Devotion and Cultural Patrimony

How can we understand the relationship between religious devotion and cultural patrimony? How does the performance and documenting of sacred rituals intersect with the construction of collective memory? These questions are explored in a new volume entitled Linguaggi della devozione. Forme espressive del patrimonio sacro [‘Languages of Devotion: Expressive Forms of Sacred Patrimony’ ] edited…

Love Locks: Votive deposits or destructive vandalism?

Ceri Houlbrook is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Manchester Love-locks are exactly what the title suggests: padlocks purchased and employed worldwide as statements of romantic commitment. Typically a couple (often tourists), having inscribed their names/initials on a padlock, will attach it to the railings of a bridge or other structure, and will…

Describing Depositions

Andreas M. Murgan works at the Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. As we know, it was a common phenomenon to sacrifice objects in ancient sanctuaries and deposit them as a gift to the gods. It is not surprising, therefore, that we often find traces of such dedications in the form of pits or…

The keys to the sanctuary

A new Italian catalogue records the results of recent excavations at the ancient Faliscan sanctuary of Monte Li Santi-Le Rote at Narce, which is located 9km south of the ancient settlement of Falerii (modern Civita Castellana). The assemblage of votives from this sanctuary is completely unique, and the publication, entitled I Tempi del Rito [Times…