A list of The Votives Project authors, friends and collaborators. Visit The Votives Project Facebook group to find more news of our various publications and projects.
Laura Aho, University of Helsinki (Finland). I am a doctoral student in Classics writing my dissertation on Greek and Roman votive inscriptions, more precisely, on how the reasons for the votive offerings are expressed in the inscription, in the text and/or picture form. The working title of my dissertation is “Occasions and motives for sacred dedications in antiquity”. The first part will analyse the vocabulary and syntax of the inscriptions, and pictorial representations, whilst the second part will concentrate on an historical and qualitative analysis of votive practice in the Greco-Roman world. My Master’s thesis concentrated on the votive inscriptions dedicated to Asclepius and their role in the cult.
Igor Baglioni, Museo delle Religioni “Raffaele Pettazzoni” di Velletri (Rome). I am currently studying the archaeological and literary evidence for ex-votos offered to Diana of Aricia. This work forms part of a broader research project which reassesses the goddess cults discussed by J.G. Frazer in his 1890 book The Golden Bough, in the light of the latest archaeological finds and using modern methodologies developed in the fields of anthropology and the history of religions.
Garry Barker I am an artist and educator working in the UK. Out of conversations I try to construct images that are designed to reflect on what these encounters reveal about the society I live in. Because I’m concerned that what I find out is useful to others, I try to think about the work I develop as being allegorical in intent, usually as reflections about life that are based on people’s experiences. The themes that I have developed from people’s concerns over the last few years have been migration, getting older, memory loss, various health issues, the problems with plastic waste, drug taking, why we treat animals so badly, and of course I have had several conversations lately about the effects of coronavirus. My work includes large-scale narrative drawings, ceramics, printmaking, painting, wallpaper design, textiles, writings, installation and game design. I have recently been getting much more interested in stories told to me about people’s mental and physical health, especially as they face the process of ageing, concerns that overlap with my own thoughts as an artist who is also getting older. As part of this process I have returned to perhaps the oldest art form we know of, the making of votives. Twitter: @GarryBarker3
Eleanor Betts, The Open University, UK. I’m interested in putting votives back in their context. Where and how were they used in the sacred landscape of Iron Age and Roman Italy? My particular interest is in Italic votives from the Marche and North Abruzzo regions of Italy (Iron Age Picenum).
Mark Beumer MA graduated in 2008 from Radboud University, Nijmegen, with a Masters thesis entitled Hygieia. Godin of Personificatie? Een verkenning door antieke bronnen en moderne literatuur. Here, Mark examined the identity of Hygieia as goddess or personification of health. From 2021, Mark is a PhD-Candidate at Charles University in Prague, in the First Faculty of Medicine. Here, he will continue his PhD-trajectory, focussing on the Christian transformation of temple sleep (‘incubation’) in Late Antiquity through the lens of Ritual Studies, where he focuses on the ritual dynamics of this healing ritual, applying the model of ecological anthropologist Roy Rappaport (1926-1997) to examine this transformation. Central to this concept of ritual dynamics is adaptation, which consists of elements like homeostasis, flexibility and self-regulation.
Velia Boecker, Philipps University of Marburg. After not pursuing a surgical career I studied Classical Archaeology at the Universities of Cologne and Berlin. I have tried to specialise in the ancient treatment of illness and health wherever possible and graduated in 2010 on surgeons, ophthalmologists and gynaecologists in the Roman Empire. In 2020 I finished my dissertation on anatomical votives in central Italy at the Free University Berlin which will be published by the end of 2022 as Kulte. Orte. Körperteile. Eine Neubewertung der Weihung anatomischer Votive in Latiums Heiligtümer. In this study I analysed over 100 archaeological sites in Central Italy where during the 4th to 1st cent. BC anatomical votives have been dedicated. These votives were hitherto understood as indicators for so-called healing cults. Featuring a holistic and contextualising approach regarding the topographic features and associated finds the study gained new perspectives on the subject. Based on this data, and also taking quantitative and gender-specific analyses into account, the so-called healing cults of Latium can be divided into two main groups which differ through specific parameters. These two groups presumably root in local cult traditions and were spread by entangled communities with shared or similar religious conceptions. Given that, anatomical votives can be understood as part of an indigenous identity within a broader network of cultural exchange. Very likely the anatomical votives should not be seen as objects with a prescribed meaning in a static cultic frame but as multivalent offerings in a dynamic frame of reference. This change of perspective contributes to new insight on tradition, interrelations and alignments of archaeological sites formerly addressed as healing places.
Domenica Borriello, Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli (SUN). My research focuses on ex-votos and votive shrines in the region of Campania. I have published widely on this topic, and I am currently finishing an article which looks at the iconographic and written archival evidence for healing miracles (grazie ricevute) in Campania during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Anne-Lieke Brem, University of Groningen (Netherlands). I am a student studying Research Masters Archaeology (Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology) and Masters Cultural Geography (Heritage and Place Identities). My general interest lies in the (theoretical) combination of both of these subjects and my most recent research focuses on the social landscape of illness and disease in ancient Greece (500-200 BC). The start of my research has been published as part of a compulsory course of our Masters programme: Brem, A., 2016. Social inequality and spatial segregation: the social landscape of ill/diseased versus healthy people in ancient Greece. In: Raemaekers, D.C.M. (ed) Past landscapes revisited. Eelde: Barkhuis, pp. 103-108.
Becky Brewis is an artist based in Dundee whose work explores images as material objects under pressure and incorporates votive imagery. Through slow processes like sewing and embroidery, she makes pieces which, in their sensory fullness and factual slipperiness, aim to be true to the act of remembering the past. In 2018-19 she was artist in residence at the Centre for Philosophy and Visual Art at King’s College London. She was selected by Tina Keane for Visions in the Nunnery 2018, a biennial showcase of moving image, and was shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2017. She has been awarded residencies in Ireland, Finland and the Netherlands and at Dumfries House, Scotland and Hackney’s Space Studios, London. She completed the Royal Drawing School’s funded postgraduate programme The Drawing Year in 2015-16 and is currently an MFA student at Edinburgh College of Art. www.beckybrewis.com
Romina Carboni, University of Cagliari. Most of my work consists of studying votive offerings from ancient Sardinia, especially those linked to harvest and sanatio cults. My votives-related publications include the book Res Sacrae. Culti e rituali nella Sardegna romana. My work focuses too on the coroplastic finds from the Punic-Roman site of Nora (south Sardinia), that is still being investigated.
Barbara Carè. University of Torino. I am interested in ancient Greek ritual practice and I am currently working on my interdisciplinary post-doctoral research project which aims at investigating ritual behaviours and symbolic meanings related to astragali in the ancient Mediterranean. At the present I am a visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Spartan and Peloponnesian Studies, University of Nottingham, and I am focusing on the meaning of astragali as votive offerings in the sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, at Sparta.
Margherita Clavarino is a PhD candidate in the History of Art at the Warburg Institute. Her research focuses on miraculous prints in early modern Italy, especially examining understudied yet crucial aspects of printmaking in relation to miraculous imagery. She has an interest in both printed ex-votos and votive offerings related to miraculous printed imagery. She contributed her research to the College of Art Association 2018 Annual Conference, having been awarded the Samuel H. Kress Foundation CAA Travel Fellowship for International Scholars. She holds a MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art in the History of Art with a specialisation in ‘Print Culture and the Early Modern Arts.’
Eleonora Colangelo is a PhD student in Ancient History and Classical Philology at the ANHIMA Centre (Anthropology and History of Ancient Worlds) in Paris and at the University of Pisa. Her research focuses on ancient Greek religion and aesthetics and she is working on a doctoral project exploring the evolution of Eros in ancient cosmetics/aesthetics. As part of this she has investigated the connection between Eros and musical instruments in Attic vase-painting and has recently published a paper on the consecration of musical instruments as votive gifts by women in transition in a volume about Musical Instruments as Votive Gifts in the Ancient World (edited by S. Bundrick and A. Bellia, 2018).
Peter Dziedzic, DePaul University alumnus. I just completed a Fulbright grant studying Sufism in Fez, Morocco. Among my interests are the practices of pilgrimage and saint veneration in the Islamic tradition. I will soon expand my research on these phenomena to other parts of the Islamic world. I eventually hope to pursue comparative work on sainthood in Christianity and Islam. Posts on TVP: The City of Saints.
Fondazione Per Grazie Ricevute We are an Italian foundation dedicated to the study of painted ex votos. We organise exhibitions of our own private collection of votives, with the aim of making this phenomenon better known to the wider public, not only to academics. Posts about Fondazione PGR: Our Daily Bread, An exhibition of ex votos in Milan, and A new exhibition of votives from Mexico.
Emma-Jayne Graham (network co-founder), The Open University, UK. I work on votive offerings from ancient Italy, especially swaddled infant and anatomical ex-votos. This reflects my broader interests in the ancient body, material culture, religion and embodied identities. My publications include articles about swaddled baby votives, votive hands, disability and religious movement, and a co-edited volume with Jane Draycott on approaches to ancient anatomical votives (Bodies of Evidence, 2017). Posts on TVP include: Shadowy figures, Wombs and tombs, Waxing lyrical on the materiality of votives, Objects and Remembering, Votives and conflict, Votives and conflict: postscript, Votives on display (Part 1), Votives on display (Part 2), Votive efficacy, Votive visions of the body, Are curse tablets votives?.
Evy Johanne Håland is a Norwegian Researcher, Dr.art. (PhD) History. Since 1983, I have had several periods of fieldwork in the Mediterranean, mainly in Greece and Italy, where I have also been conducting research on religious festivals and life-cycle rituals since 1987. My monographs and many articles combine fieldwork results with ancient sources, inter alia, focusing on votive gifts both in modern and ancient societies. My next project on health and healing in Greek tradition plans to take a closer look on the importance of votive gifts.
Kristel Henquet, Free University Amsterdam/University of Amsterdam & Leiden University. As a research masters student in archaeology and ancient history, I am specialising in votive practices and religious landscapes in Southern Italy. I conducted fieldwork in Rome, Molise, Basilicata and Puglia and received two grants from the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome in order to study in Italy for three months.
Claire Heseltine is a PhD student in Classics at King’s College, London. Her doctoral project focuses on miniature representations of the gods on personal, portable items in the late Hellenistic period, and the importance of these objects as mediators between believer and divine referent. More widely, her research focuses on the material culture of personal religion, with a focus on artefacts related to women and enslaved individuals. She holds an MSt in Classical Archaeology from the University of Oxford and is an alumna of the Ertegun Graduate Programme – her work on Takht-i Sangin and the Hellenistic East was developed as part of this MSt programme and presented in an early form to the Ertegun Graduate Seminar.
Jenny Högström Berntson, University of Gothenburg. I am a PhD student in history of religions at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. In my thesis I discuss how votive gifts can reflect gendered norms and activities.
Ceri Houlbrook, University of Manchester, University of Hertfordshire. My main research interest is in the archaeology and heritage of contemporary deposits which emphasise the blurry distinction between ‘ritual’ and ‘secular’. My thesis – and subsequent journal articles – focused on coin-trees in the British Isles, and I’m currently researching the global phenomenon of love-locks. I’m particularly interested in the deposit’s capacity to act as metaphor of the depositor. Posts on TVP: Love locks: votive deposits or destructive vandalism?
Jessica Hughes (network co-founder), The Open University, UK. I work on material religion, and the evolving religious landscape of Campania, Italy. Posts on TVP: ‘Tap and Pray’, Films and stones, Votive chickens, Graffiti as ex-voto?, Yves Klein’s ex-voto to St Rita of Cascia, Votives as ‘Self Evidence’, The Festival of the Madonna dell’Arco, Ex votos in Pompeii – an interview with Monsignor Pietro Caggiano, Ex votos at the sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Arco – an interview with Padre Gianpaolo Pagano.
Philip Kiernan, University at Buffalo. Most of my research is on the material culture of Roman religion. In 2009, I published a book on Miniature Votive Offerings from Romano-Celtic sanctuary sites, and have written articles on the relationship between lead curse tablets and the Roman procedure of the vow. My current book project is on idols in the Roman west.
Lucy Makinson, has recently completed an MA in Classical Mediterranean Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. She is interested in ancient Greek and Roman religion, particularly in how religion constructs community and identity in border areas, and in what artefactual evidence (like votives) reveals about ethnic and geographical origins of people living in frontier / border areas.
Toby Maynard. I am professional artist working in the UK. I have a passion for the subject of Alchemy and a strong interest in symbolism and psychology. I am currently exploring the practice of votive offerings, through the creation of symbolic objects which I leave in public spaces. While I am remaining open to all the realizations and revelations continually rising from this method of working, notable concepts that have risen so far, relate to our physical and psychological relationship with objects and ideas surrounding the function of an artist within a community.
Katherine McDonald, University of Exeter. I am a linguist working on the epigraphy of pre-Roman Italy, in languages including Oscan, Venetic and Etruscan; I work mainly on interactions between the languages and cultures of Italy. I’m particularly interested in the use of alphabets and writing tools as votives, and I’m working on the use of bronze votive writing tablets and styluses in the Veneto region. You can read more about my work at katherinemcdonald.net.
Andreas M. Murgan, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. My research focuses mainly on early money (lumps, chunks and bars) from sites in ancient Italy and Sicily. For these finds I conduct a detailed analysis of their archaeological contexts, aiming to reconstruct and best understand their original deposition. Since the material and such-like objects were often dedicated to the gods, sanctuaries constitute a fundamental source of information.Unfortunately, however, the material in question has been little studied, often considered unattractive lumps and chunks of metal. Therefore, any references concerning aes rude and the (incorrectly so-called) aes signatum (in context!) are highly appreciated! Posts on TVP: Describing Depositions.
Georgina Muskett, University of Liverpool. I am interested in the way in which votive offerings were used in the Greco-Roman world, as well as how museums in the UK formed their collections, the latter developed while I was Curator of Classical Antiquities for National Museums Liverpool. My most recent publication on this appeared in Annual of the British School at Athens (2014): ‘Votive offerings from the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, Sparta, in Liverpool collections.’
Caroline Perrée, Permanent researcher CEMCA UMIFRE 16 MAEDI CNRS. My research concerns forms of popular worship, in particular the ex-voto but also offerings more generally, as well as their interactions with contemporary art in terms of plasticity and iconography. I am particularly interested in contemporary offerings, the durability of the ex-voto through time, and urban cults such that of Santa Muerte in Mexico City. Despite focusing on Mexican ex-votos, my analyses adopt a comparative point of view, seeking to comprehend the votive in its diversity. At present I am studying rooms of ex-votos and their management by the Mexican clergy (see https://cemca.academia.edu/CarolinePerree).
Nadja Petersen, University of Copenhagen (Denmark). I am currently writing my Master’s thesis on the anatomical votives from Asclepieion in Corinth. I am particularly interested in our understanding of our bodies in the time of illness, disability and grief in a religious context. I have a Bachelor’s degree and a (pending) Master’s degree in Classical Archaeology. Posts on TVP: From Corinth to Candindé.
Jessica Piccinini, University of Vienna, Austria. I am interested in the study of votive offerings as a means to understand the origins and socio-economic status of the worshippers of the major pan-Hellenic sanctuaries and to assess the routes of ancient pilgrimage in pre-Christian societies.
Gina Salapata, Massey University, New Zealand. I have an interest in the religious behaviour of everyday Greek people, especially choice of votive offerings. My research focuses on terracotta relief plaques from the southern Peloponnese and my book, Heroic Offerings: The Terracotta Plaques from the Spartan Sanctuary of Agamemnon and Kassandra (University of Michigan Press, 2015), has just been published. Posts on TVP: Multiple votive offerings.
Konrad Siekierski, University of Leipzig and National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. I am a cultural anthropologist working on modern Armenian religiosity, in particular on pilgrimage and sacred places. Working on this topic I come across various form of votive practices – from the very word ‘pilgrimage’ (ukhtagnatsutyun) which in Armenian language derives from ‘vow’ (ukht), to animal sacrifice, to lighting candles and bringing pictures and books to pilgrimage sites.
Tyler Jo Smith, University of Virginia. As a Classical Archaeologist, I am interested in the relationship between art, material culture, and religion. I am particularly interested in votive practices and what offerings from Greek sanctuaries indicate about devotional worship – a topic I engage with in my forthcoming book Religion in the Art of Archaic and Classical Greece (University of Pennsylvania Press). My ongoing research on the rock-cut and other sculpted votive reliefs from the regions of northern Lycia and Pisidia has been published in two articles in Anatolian Studies (1997, 2011), and in the 2018 volume of Colloquium Anatolicum as ‘Interaction, Cult and Memory: Another Look at the Rock-cut Votive Reliefs of Southwest Anatolia’.
Jacopo Tabolli, Director, MAVNA museum. Jacopo Tabolli received his Ph.D. in Archaeology from Sapienza University of Rome in 2012. Editor of Officina Etruscologia his first book on the necropoleis of Narce during the Early Iron Age and the Early Orientalizing Period appeared in 2013. In 2012 he founded the MAVNA museum in Mazzano Romano and since then he has been the scientific director of the museum. He has been excavating for several years at Veii and he is currently co-directing different excavation projects in the site of Narce at the sanctuary of Monte Li Santi-Le Rote and at the necropolis of Cavone di Monte Li Santi. He has been recently appointed as Visiting Researcher at the Long Room Hub Trinity College Dublin with a project entitled “Masked Identities” focused on the study of votive masks in pre-Roman Italy.
Milene Trindade, University of Évora. I am a PhD student in History of Art writing my dissertation on photographic votive offerings placed in shrines in the south of Portugal. The project’s title is Devotion, Art and Technique: Photographic Ex-votos in Alentejo Region from XIX to XX Century, and it is being supported by the Portuguese national funding agency for science, research and technology (FCT). In the 19th and 20th centuries, countless numbers of photographs were offered and displayed on the walls of churches, forming collections that represent local culture and devotion, as well as the history of photography. My research aims to develop our understanding of the cultural heritage value of these collections and the need for their preservation by proposing a guidance strategy for exhibition and safeguarding.
Jean MacIntosh Turfa, University of Pennsylvania Museum. My study of Etruscan religion and medicine includes ancient anatomical models, particularly those that demonstrate perception of internal organs such as hearts and uteri; I also investigate the connections between observed natural phenomena and divination (cosmic rays and the Brontoscopic Calendar, parasites and divination by sheep liver, etc.). Posts on TVP: Etruscan votives and health?
Olivia Turner, Newcastle University. Olivia Turner is an interdisciplinary artist and practice-led PhD researcher, recipient of the Research Excellence Academy Studentship. She is Lead for Newcastle University’s Arts & Medical Research Cluster. In 2019, she was awarded a Wellcome Trust ISSF Small Grant for her creative practice-led project, The Visceral Body in Medicine, using anatomical votives as a visual and conceptual tool to question how we represent corporeal interoceptive experience, how we visualise and imagine the interior of the human body, and how this changes under circumstances of illness and disease.
Dr Sally Waite, Newcastle University. Sally Waite is a lecturer in Greek Art and Archaeology at Newcastle University. She has worked extensively with the Shefton Collection of Greek and Etruscan Archaeology in the Great North Museum, Newcastle and is joint editor of On the Fascination of Objects: Greek and Etruscan Art in the Shefton Collection (Oxbow 2016). Her research is primarily on Attic red-figure pottery and she has a particular interest in the history of collecting.
Philippa Walton, University of Oxford/Piercebridge Project. I’m a Research Fellow on the Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire Project (Oxford), but also PI for an ongoing project to catalogue and analyse a large Romano-British riverine votive deposit from the River Tees at Piercebridge. I also currently work on how coinage was used at Romano-British temple sites and coin hoards found in theatres throughout the Roman empire.
Franziska Weise, University of Hamburg. While undertaking my Ph.D. research about the economics of healing sanctuaries, I became interested in anatomical votives and their function and role in the Greek healing cults. As an epigraphist, I am especially interested in the inventory lists of the Asklepieia and the Oropian Amphiareion and I want to focus on the “forgotten anatomical votive”, the (metallic) typioi. At the same time, my research also challenges hypotheses about the specialization of healing cults.