Sacred Nature (Hardback)
Animism and Materiality in Ancient Religions
Sacred Nature: Animism and Materiality in Ancient Religions is the second volume of the series Material Religion in Antiquity (MaReA). The book collects the proceedings of the international online workshop carrying the same title organized by CAMNES, SoRS on 20–21 May 2021. Sacred Nature brings together the perspectives of scholars from different disciplines (archaeology, anthropology, iconography, philology, history of religions) about the notions of nature, sacredness, animism and materiality in ancient religions of the Old and the New World. The contributions highlight various ways of understandings the relationships that occurred between human beings, animals, plants, rivers, deities and the land in the religious life of ancient societies. In particular, each chapter explores entangled aspects of the perception of nature and its other-than-human inhabitants, and contributes to readdress some notions about nature, personhood/agency, divinity/sacrality, and materiality/spirituality in ancient religions and cosmologies. In this line, the book seeks to promote a starkly inter-disciplinary and religious-anthropological approach to the definition of ‘sacred nature’, especially engaging with the analytical category of animism as a fruitful conceptual tool for the investigation of human-environmental relations in the ancient religious conceptions, representations and practices. Dialoguing with animism and drawing upon the question on how an ancient religion happened materially, the volume presents key case studies that explore how nature and its non-human inhabitants were understood, represented, engaged with and interwoven in the sacred and sensuous landscapes of ancients.