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Textual Amulets of the Mediterranean World: 1000 BCE - 1000 CE

05.09.2024 – 05.10.2024

Event Summary

Photo by Max Herman.

People in pre-modern cultures wore many objects on their bodies as amulets, such as roots, seashells, or carved images. But at different points in time all of the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean began to inscribe prayers and charms on linen, papyrus, gold foil, or gemstones, and to use them as amulets. At this conference, a group of international scholars asked and tried to answer numerous questions about what happens at this point of transition and why. Does the more permanent nature of a text imply its continual presence, ever repeating? Were textual amulets created and used by literate elites alone? What is the relationship between text and image on amulets? If gods previously listened to prayers, when did they learn to read? This conference stemmed from a larger project to publish a representative collection of textual amulets from across the Mediterranean and throughout antiquity, facilitating the study of the various traditions, their connections, and transformations.



Clifford Ando
(University of Chicago)
Anke Ilona Blöbaum (Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig)
Korshi Dosoo (University of Würzburg)
Rivka Elitzur-Leiman (Fordham University; Neubauer Collegium Visiting Fellow)
Christopher Faraone (University of Chicago)
Anthony Kaldellis (University of Chicago)
Carolina López-Ruiz (University of Chicago)
Margaret Mitchell (University of Chicago)
Árpád Nagy (University of Pécs, Hungary)
Megan Nutzman (Old Dominion University)
Madadh Richey (Brandeis University)
Joe Sanzo (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice; Neubauer Collegium Visiting Fellow)
Panagiota Sarischouli (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
Sofia Torallas Tovar (University of Chicago)
Erin Walsh (University of Chicago)
Michael Zellmann-Rohrer (Macquarie University / Freie Universität Berlin)

This conference was presented by the Textual Amulets of the Mediterranean World research project at the Neubauer Collegium in partnership with the Divinity School and Classics Department at the University of Chicago.