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…

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…

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…

About us

The Votives Project is a network of people from different backgrounds who study, create or use votive offerings or other related ways of communicating with the divine. It aims to facilitate dialogue between academic disciplines, and between academics and religious ‘practitioners’, and in doing so to develop rich cross-cultural and multi-period understandings of votive material and contexts. If you would…

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…

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…

Votives as ‘Self Evidence’

Just published over on the Wellcome Collection blog – some thoughts on how votives relate to the forensics principle ‘Every contact leaves a trace’ (formulated by Edmond Locard). Self Evidence With thanks to Russell Dornan, digital editor at the Wellcome Collection

Votives on display (Part 2)

In ‘Votives on display (Part 1)’ I wrote quite generally about how votives might have been displayed in ancient sacred spaces. In this second part I want to try out some ideas about how particular types of ancient Italian anatomical votives might have been displayed and suggest that thinking about this might offer some new…

Votives on display (Part 1)

Last weekend I was at the 2015 Classical Association Conference in Bristol and, after my paper on the sensory experience of dedicating infant votives, I was asked a question about where these votive objects were placed and how were they ‘displayed’. If they were placed on an altar or something similar, I was asked, could…

Votives and conflict: postscript

A few weeks ago I wrote a post inspired by an article published in 1918, in which the classicist Eugene S. McCartney described some of the votive objects and dedicatory activities that he had encountered at holy sites during the First World War. The sites he visited included the cathedral of St. Andre, Bordeaux (France)…

Votives and conflict

Last year, on the anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, Jess Hughes wrote about votive paintings dedicated by Italian soldiers and their families. Recently, when searching for something entirely different, I stumbled across an article published in 1918 by Eugene S. McCartney. It presents an account of his personal encounters, in 1916…

Ex-voto dedicated to Santa Rita of Cascia by Yves Klein, 1961 Dry pigment, gold leaves, gold bars and manuscript in a plexiglas box, 14 x 21 x 3.2 cm © Yves Klein / ADAGP, Paris, 2014

Yves Klein’s ex-voto to St Rita of Cascia

Ex-voto dedicated to Santa Rita of Cascia by Yves Klein, 1961 Dry pigment, gold leaves, gold bars and manuscript in a plexiglas box, 14 x 21 x 3.2 cm © Yves Klein / ADAGP, Paris, 2014   Just published over on the Material Religions blog – some thoughts about the Ex-voto made by Yves Klein…

Votives on Mount Banahaw

Paul-François Tremlett is Lecturer in Religious Studies at The Open University, UK From 1999-2000 and again in 2003 and 2009 I conducted field work on the slopes of Mount Banahaw among religious movements venerating the Filipino national hero José Rizal as the Filipino Christ, and healers who regard the mountain as a site of spiritual…

Seated couple plaque

Multiple votive offerings

Gina Salapata is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at Massey University, New Zealand. I have recently studied an aspect of votive practice that has so far remained unexplored: small offerings acquired, dedicated and displayed in multiples. There is a tacit assumption that each dedicant offered only one votive offering on a particular occasion. But nothing…

Offerings in Bangalore

Peter Stewart is Director of the Classical Art Research Centre and Associate Professor in Classical Art and Archaeology in the Faculty of Classics at the University of Oxford. In the first posting on this blog, Jessica Hughes mentioned an intriguing case of ephemeral votives — the sort of offering that leaves no traces for archaeologists to…