AMME Seminar 24.02.22: 'Cultic Experts in the Ancient World'

The next Ancient and Medieval Middle East (AMME) seminar will be organised as an ONLINE event, Thursday 24 February at 16:15-18:00 EET/Helsinki local time.

The overarching theme of the session is ‘cultic experts in the ancient world’ and it will consist of two papers – by Sandra Jacobs and Outi Sihvonen – followed by a shared discussion. The topics of the talks are:

Dr. Sandra Jacobs

‘The Language of Temple (Personnel) Consecration: From Babylon to the Hebrew Bible’

The legacy of cuneiform cultures on the writings of the biblical scribes has fascinated scholars for over a century. While much has been made of the impact of the Akkadian sources on the genres of epic, law, and cosmologies, far less attention is paid to their influence on the Priestly strata of the Pentateuch. The presentation will clarify the terminological association between the consecration of Levites in the wilderness sanctuary, with the donation of širkû (oblates) in the Neo-Babylonian period. In this context I will further suggest that the physical (bodily) marking or branding of širkû in these sources was also of particular concern in the legislation of the Holiness Code (Leviticus 17-26).

Dr. Outi Sihvonen

‘Taking Care of the Cultic Practices – The Assistants of the Arval Brethren and the Vestal Virgins’

The group of twelve Arval brothers and the sisterhood of the six Vestal virgins are two much debated and well known priesthoods in the Roman religion. Instead of discussing the priests and priestesses or their duties, my intention is to turn our interest to the personnel who worked for them and took care of the cultic and everyday practicalities. In the Acta Arvalium, the records of the brotherhood, the assistants called calatores are mentioned in different occasions. What were their duties in the Arvals’ sacred rituals? The honorary inscriptions for the Vestal virgins mention occasionally their assistants called the fictores. What the fictores’ activities can tell us about their position in the cultic system? By using the epigraphic evidence we are able to get information about the individuals, and their relationships with the priests/priestesses, as well as the practices of the Roman religion.

We hope to see you online, Thursday 24 February at 16:15-18:00 EET (UTC +02:00).

Zoom link: (Meeting ID: 678 8979 2118).