Metanavigation

Research Plan and Research Cluster of the German Archaeological Institute

Cluster 4: Sanctuaries.Form and ritual. Continuity and change.

Speakers

Hans-Joachim Gehrke, W.-D. Niemeier, D. Raue, R. Senff, Iris Gerlach

Summary

Study of mankind's relationship with the sacred presents us with an anthropological constant, since religiosity is an integral part of human life. The variety of manifestations of religiosity in the ancient world is of particular interest in the age of globalization and the coming together of various contemporary manifestations - which should by all means be included in the ongoing discussion.

The task of this research cluster is to compare the religious concepts of sanctuaries in different cultural regions in their essential points. With several dozen ritual sites being investigated by the DAI in concurrent projects around the world, this research cluster can draw on a very large and easily accessible pool of information on central questions concerning the position of faith and religion in early societies, enabling us to look beyond the actual archaeological work, the documentation and object evaluation, to more far-reaching questions. The results will be made available both to scholars and the general public.

Introduction

The capacity to believe in higher powers is an essential trait of human beings and can be traced back to the dawn of human development. The first evidence of spiritual activity has been found in connection with palaeolithic burials approx. 80,000 - 100,000 years ago.

Belief in a deity or pantheon, or at least an overriding religious sense, is not restricted to the individual, but instead represents one of the fundamental prerequisites of a functioning community. The members of communities large or small gather at sacred places to perform ritualized acts. Even in a secularized society such as our own these notions and actions play a more important role than is commonly appreciated - for instance in dealings with neighbouring cultures and societies where the separation of politics and religion is not practised, or as relicts of a formerly more all-embracing religious practice which now is reduced to a few public holidays and has largely lost its original meaning.

Members of every religious community seek to lend expression to their convictions, even if this occurs only at places accessible to them alone. In the religions with large or even majority congregations, however, it generally occurs in public and at prominent locations where the deity's or deities' work can be manifested in a special fashion.

Sacred places as a rule are clearly marked out as such, whether by features of the natural environment or by an edifice, and in the course of time can evolve into a comprehensive complex. These sites are consequently expressions of a society or culture and its creativity. As symbols of religious convictions, such sites embody the historical dimension of those convictions and communicate them to posterity. In most cases such localities are characterized by considerable expense and artistic elaboration on the part of the 'host' society so to speak. Reverence for the deity is stated as the justification for such expense by the individual or entity commissioning the sacred structures. In fact however competitive behaviour within a culture or vis-à-vis neighbouring societies plays an equally large part. The fact that the religious structures and votive objects are protected by the community, and of course by higher powers in the eyes of its believers, means that over time an incomparable reservoir of historical documents builds up as time passes.

This naturally makes sites of spiritual significance particularly well suited to a comparative study among different cultures. These sites moreover are almost always archaeologically detectable, in prehistoric as well as historical periods.

Scientific interest in sacred places goes back to the very beginnings of archaeology. And yet there have been few comparative studies among sites in the ancient world. The reason for this was, for a long time, the highly varying level of knowledge about the material remains, particularly in those regions where research has been possible only in the recent past.

The external appearance of sanctuaries offers the observer a vision of a stable and unchangeable world-order and assigns him or her a firm place in the relationship with the revered supernatural world. This relationship is emphasized also by the religious ritual with its fixed rules of conduct. Since what survives at sacred sites in many cases are merely the traces of ritual practices, which often can only be fragmentarily reconstructed by archaeology, any assistance afforded by other sources of information, e.g. written accounts in various forms such as descriptions, liturgical texts or inscriptions, is of particular importance if ritual practice is to be understood as fully as possible. Cooperation is essential with related disciplines in the study of the ancient world, as well as anthropology and religion studies.
Thanks to this comparative study of sacred sites, the prospects today are good of coming to a deeper understanding of the societies under investigation and to a better reckoning of our own culture's relative position.

Objectives and Methods

Since it was founded, the DAI has studied complexes of this nature, and so it has at its disposal a multitude of research data on the subject. The material basis for the comparison is a representative sample of scientifically well examined sanctuaries.

These sanctuaries will be considered and compared in thematic categories according to the temporal dimension; genesis, continuity and change during its existence; and finally the cessation of religious practice at the site and its loss of function. The question of change in the course of time is of crucial importance, too, in the investigation of ritual practice, which unifies site, form and design, and the participants in the cult.

Every cult and every ritual site is invested with meaning only through the communities responsible for the emergence and spread of the religion. Very few ritual sites retain their character unchanged throughout the period of their existence. And no cult is eternal - often the god falls silent, as was said to have happened at Delphi.

This cluster aims to view sacred sites as stages and results of processes. In other words, the stages of existence in various societies will be defined and analysed in comparative studies.

Genesis and continuity

Speakers: Reinhard Senff, Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier

In recent decades archaeology, in particular, has brought to light revealing information about the origin of many sanctuaries. Sanctuaries are often amongst the oldest structures of a settlement, where for example a founding hero or a patron deity is honoured. They may however also be erected later in time at existing settlements or at pre-existing ritual sites. As religious centres they have a claim to universality; as places of assembly of small or exclusive groups they strengthen the sense of belonging and serve political purposes. In many instances they play an important part not only in establishing the cultural identity of the cult participants, but also in securing the community's territory.

It is often possible to detect a connection with natural phenomena - even though a site throughout its existence may play host to successive different forms of a cult which may obscure or even replace the original practices.

While historical research, drawing primarily on written information, frequently presents a supposedly clear-cut picture of a sacred site, archaeology in many cases can achieve a much more complex, nuanced representation.

Indeed, in representing sacred places, there has been a deplorable tendency to assume unbroken continuities and insufficient consideration has been given to underlying social and political transformations in the interpretation of architecture, furnishings and cult artefacts. It is another task of this research field to view the sanctuaries in question in relation to changes known to have occurred thanks to other fields of study.
The involvement of various related disciplines, including their methodologies, will allow the thorough testing and revision of existing models. In the past it has often only been possible to make imprecise conjectures about the causes of change. Chronologically deep and topographically wide, the projects of the DAI will supply the first concrete answers to the question of the causes of change.

The end and after-life of ritual sites

Speaker: Stefan Lehmann

The end and after-life of ritual sites in the ancient Mediterranean region is the object of study of this project group. It is a subject which, in research conducted thus far, has been dealt with in a remarkably imprecise manner, both in terms of technical questions and terminology. The abundance of differently shaded terms for the end of a ritual site (waning, decline, demise, transition, change, etc.) is an indication of the ambiguity surrounding this key phenomenon.

The primary functions of a ritual site were religious (sacrificial site, altar, temple, cult image, offering, consecration, festival, ritual, procession). When the cult was no longer practised, the ritual site lost its raison d'être. Hence the end of a ritual site should be seen as the moment or final stage where its primary functions lapsed irrevocably. What has not been sufficiently appreciated in research to date, however, is the multiplicity of functions of a ritual site. The disappearance of the traditional cult did not automatically signify the material end of its ritual site. Large ritual sites in particular served secondary functions as well - economic, social, politically ­symbolic - and thus they could survive beyond the cessation of a cult as a centre of communication, the setting of a festival, or a focal point in the identification process for a local or regional population. Thereafter ritual sites continued an after-life in people's memories.

The project group will study ritual sites in the Mediterranean region from the Stone Age to late antiquity. Starting with find assemblages of excavations commenced relatively long ago, the project group will analyse the final, often neglected phase of use of ancient ritual sites and will seek to integrate their altering functions into a larger local and supralocal context. The second objective is to confront the find assemblages with written testimony. By this means the end and after-life of ritual sites can be analysed in all its aspects more precisely than heretofore.
It is hoped that the anticipated results will fill a gap in the study of ancient sanctuaries. The project group will thereby contribute to a better understanding of the archaeology and history of key sites of ancient religions.

Designed space

Speaker: Nils Hellner

Sanctuaries are always consciously occupied, designed spaces for the practice of a cult of some kind. The spectrum ranges from simply laid-out nature sanctuaries via peak sanctuaries, stelae fields, wayside altars, burnt offering sites to monumental temples. The sanctuary as a designed space is the basic expression of a society or culture and its creativity and/or wealth - and possibly even the deliberate non-display of such. The form and design of a sanctuary reflect the form and design of the religion: its needs, demands and the objectives of the cult.

What expectations does a culture, social group or individual have of the sacred site? The sanctuaries are to be analysed with regard to the following aspects:

- division of the space into public and private areas or conspicuously emphasized areas
- depositing or destruction of the votives, i.e. cremation sites or store-rooms
- paths or fixed points, succession of spaces
- forms of ritual procedure or worship
- screening of the sanctuary or visibility of the image of the deity or focus of the cult
- dimensions of the designed space in relation to people.

The degree of unity, the external development, the network of paths within the complex, the different weighting given to external and internal appearance are the variables by which sacred spaces can be shaped and formed.

What are the common characteristics of sanctuaries in contrast to profane places? Among defining factors may be geographical features (water source, mountain peak, mountain plateau, cave), special features of the landscape (trees, clearing, copse) and requirements of the cult itself (line of sight, mythical places, places of social memory). Creative engagement with these determinants can lead to the production of a new type of structure, the adaptation of an already existing type, or even the design of the space in a way that completely ignores such typologies.

The spatial design can disregard the geographical features of the locality and it can also be determined by it. The functional requirements made by the cult itself can be taken into account in differing degrees in the lay-out of the sanctuary. A key contribution can be made by large-scale analysis of the cult topography, i.e. the position that a sanctuary occupies within a territory or a defined cult landscape: is it located at the boundary, or does it define one? Does it constitute the centre, or is it isolated, or can a constellatory grouping be discerned?

Votives and ritual

Speakers: Gunvor Lindström - Dietrich Raue - Thomas Schattner

Rital sites have at all times been domains of encounter with the sacred. The encounter could take the form of symbolic actions and ritual, such as processions, dance and music, prayer, oracles, animal sacrifices, libations, incense offerings, dedications and banquets or ritual meals. Rituals, just like the architecture and interior design of a sanctuary, reflect the conceptions of a given society, and an understanding of rituals is important if we aspire to a historical reconstruction of those conceptions. Today however the sequence of the rites, i.e. the formalized, orchestrated and repeatedly performed acts, can only be ascertained in part. For the region of the ancient Near East, ancient Egypt and the Graeco-Roman world, written documents like ritual texts and laws, and graphic representations like vase paintings and frescos, can provide clues as to the form and sequence of some of these acts. For rituals which were not documented in writing or by images, on the other hand, such relics as remain in the earth are the only evidence we have of cult activity.

In many sanctuaries layers of ash are to be found, mixed with animal bones and artefacts, which could constitute the material remains of sacrifices and/or ritual meals. Analysis of such relicts requires interdisciplinary cooperation (e.g. consulting specialists in the analysis of archaeofauna and botanical finds), as has been practised for a long time already in various projects. This can throw light upon aspects of the rites for which there is no written or iconographic testimony.

Extremely common - and not infrequently the only evidence of the existence of an ancient sanctuary - are votive offerings which were left at the same spot where they were once displayed or were subsequently deposited separately in the sanctuary. These offerings to deities bear witness to the symbolic exchange of gifts between believer and deity, and they can reflect both the religious conceptions and the social background of the cult participants, such as status, gender and origin. The investigations of the votive offerings are aimed at gaining information about the composition of the cult society and thereby also about the character of the ritual site - whether, for example, it was of local or transregional significance; or was visited mainly by women or by men. At many sacred sites there are large quantities of votives spanning several centuries. A diachronic analysis of votive spectrums may shed light on the evolution of ritual sites, and also more broadly it allows specific period preferences to be observed regarding votive types and the conventions of their use, which may reflect societal change, not only changes in religious beliefs or practices.
Only with considerable reservations can what we know about ritual practice in ancient sanctuaries be applied to the sanctuaries of prehistoric cultures. Often it is questionable whether there was any concept at all of deities to whom sacrifices and offerings were made and for whom rites were performed. Therefore basic questions need to be asked about the nature of prevailing religious notions. In this effort, particular importance attaches to the rock art from the late Stone Age onwards such as may be found in cave sanctuaries, for example. So far only an approximate evaluation has been possible of the Neolithic iconography now available for study in the Near East. What is already clear is that image and cult were closely associated in this region and that a notation system predating writing existed in a religious context. The creation of this system evidently enabled the society that created it to fix its cultural memory effectively. A comparison would appear to be possible here with the votives displayed in ancient sanctuaries and the rituals practised there.

Results

Andreas Effland, Beschriftete Keramik, in: Ute Effland, Funde aus dem Mittleren Reich bis zur Mamlukenzeit aus Umm el-Qaab, in: MDAIK 62, 2006, S. 138-140.

Andreas Effland, Zwei Skarabäen mit Maximen, in: G. Dreyer et al., Umm el-Qaab. Nachuntersuchungen im frühzeitlichen Königsfriedhof, 16./17./18. Vorbericht, in: MDAIK 62, 2006, S. 126 f.

Andreas Effland, Iuwelot der Libyer - Zwei neue Belege für den thebanischen Hohepriester des Amun aus der 22. Dynastie und ein ungewöhnliches Personendeterminativ, in: E.-M. Engel, V. Müller, U. Hartung (Hgg.), Zeichen aus dem Sand. Streiflichter aus Ägyptens Geschichte zu Ehren von Günter Dreyer, Menes 5, 2008, S. 59-70.

A. Effland und U. Effland, Mittler zwischen den Welten, in: epoc. Spektrum der Wissenschaft 6/2009, 12-19

Ute Effland, Funde aus dem Mittleren Reich bis zur Mamlukenzeit aus Umm el-Qaab, in: MDAIK 62, 2006, S. 131-150.

Ute Effland, Funde späterer Nutzungsphasen, in: G. Dreyer et al., Umm el-Qaab. Nachuntersuchungen im frühzeitlichen Königsfriedhof, 16./17./18. Vorbericht, in: MDAIK 62, 2006, S. 123-126.

Ute Effland, Das Gottesgrab. Der Gott Osiris in Umm el-Qaab/Abydos, in: Sokar 16, 2008, S. 6-17.

Ute Effland, "Grabe im Zentrum des erstbesten Grabes" - Mittelalterliche Schatzsucher in Abydos, in: E.-M. Engel, V. Müller, U. Hartung (Hgg.), Zeichen aus dem Sand. Streiflichter aus Ägyptens Geschichte zu Ehren von Günter Dreyer, Menes 5, 2008, S. 71-82.

Irene Forstner-Müller und Dietrich Raue, "Elephantine und Levante", in:E.-M. Engel, V. Müller, U. Hartung (Hgg.), Zeichen aus dem Sand. Streiflichter aus Ägyptens Geschichte zu Ehren von Günter Dreyer, Menes 5, 2008, 127-148.

Peter Kopp und Dietrich Raue, "Reinheit, Verborgenheit, Wirksamkeit - Innen-, An- und Außensichten eines ägyptischen Sanktuars jenseits der zentralen Residenzkulte", in: Archiv für Religionsgeschichte 10, 2008, 25-43.

P. KOPP, Ein Sistrum aus dem Satettempel von Elephantine, in: E.-M. Engel/V. Müller/ U. Hartung (Hrsg.), Zeichen aus dem Sand. Streiflichter aus Ägyptens Geschichte zu Ehren von Günter Dreyer, S. 413-419.

Th. Marksteiner - B. Stark - M. Wörrle - B. Yener-Marksteiner,Der Yalak Başi auf dem Bonda Tepesi in Ostlykien. Eine dörfliche Siedlung und ein ländlicher Kultplatz im Umland von Limyra,Chiron 37 (2007) 243-293.

U. Rummel, Grab oder Tempel? Die funeräre Anlage des Hohenpriesters des Amun Amenophis in Dra' Abu el-Naga (Theben-West), in: D. Kessler et al. (Hrsg.), Texte - Theben - Tonfragmente. Festschrift für Günter Burkard, Ägypten und Altes Testament Bd. 76, Wiesbaden 2009, S. 348-360

Research Field 1: Genesis and continuity

In recent decades archaeology, in particular, has brought to light revealing information about the origin of many sanctuaries. Sanctuaries are often amongst the oldest structures of a settlement, where for example a founding hero or a patron deity is honoured. They may however also be erected later in time at existing settlements or at pre-existing ritual sites. As religious centres they have a claim to universality; as places of assembly of small or exclusive groups they strengthen the sense of belonging and serve political purposes. In many instances they play an important part not only in establishing the cultural identity of the cult participants, but also in securing the community's territory.

It is often possible to detect a connection with natural phenomena - even though a site throughout its existence may play host to successive different forms of a cult which may obscure or even replace the original practices.

While historical research, drawing primarily on written information, frequently presents a supposedly clear-cut picture of a sacred site, archaeology in many cases can achieve a much more complex, nuanced representation.

Indeed, in representing sacred places, there has been a deplorable tendency to assume unbroken continuities and insufficient consideration has been given to underlying social and political transformations in the interpretation of architecture, furnishings and cult artefacts. It is another task of this research field to view the sanctuaries in question in relation to changes known to have occurred thanks to other fields of study.
The involvement of various related disciplines, including their methodologies, will allow the thorough testing and revision of existing models. In the past it has often only been possible to make imprecise conjectures about the causes of change. Chronologically deep and topographically wide, the projects of the DAI will supply the first concrete answers to the question of the causes of change.

Speakers

Reinhard Senff, Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier

Research Field 2: The end and after-life of ritual sites

The end and after-life of ritual sites in the ancient Mediterranean region is the object of study of this project group. It is a subject which, in research conducted thus far, has been dealt with in a remarkably imprecise manner, both in terms of technical questions and terminology. The abundance of differently shaded terms for the end of a ritual site (waning, decline, demise, transition, change, etc.) is an indication of the ambiguity surrounding this key phenomenon.

The primary functions of a ritual site were religious (sacrificial site, altar, temple, cult image, offering, consecration, festival, ritual, procession). When the cult was no longer practised, the ritual site lost its raison d'être. Hence the end of a ritual site should be seen as the moment or final stage where its primary functions lapsed irrevocably. What has not been sufficiently appreciated in research to date, however, is the multiplicity of functions of a ritual site. The disappearance of the traditional cult did not automatically signify the material end of its ritual site. Large ritual sites in particular served secondary functions as well - economic, social, politically ­symbolic - and thus they could survive beyond the cessation of a cult as a centre of communication, the setting of a festival, or a focal point in the identification process for a local or regional population. Thereafter ritual sites continued an after-life in people's memories.

The project group will study ritual sites in the Mediterranean region from the Stone Age to late antiquity. Starting with find assemblages of excavations commenced relatively long ago, the project group will analyse the final, often neglected phase of use of ancient ritual sites and will seek to integrate their altering functions into a larger local and supralocal context. The second objective is to confront the find assemblages with written testimony. By this means the end and after-life of ritual sites can be analysed in all its aspects more precisely than heretofore.
It is hoped that the anticipated results will fill a gap in the study of ancient sanctuaries. The project group will thereby contribute to a better understanding of the archaeology and history of key sites of ancient religions.

Speakers

Stefan Lehmann

Research Projects

Das Ende der steinzeitlichen Heiligtümer des Göbekli Tepe

Auch wenn die genaue Funktion der Heiligtümer des Göbekli Tepe noch nicht erschlossen ist, so drängt sich beim Versuch einer Charakterisierung der rituellen Welt der frühholozänen Jägerkulturen Obermesopotamiens diese megalithischen Bauformen in den Vordergrund. Die Kreisanlagen des Göbekli Tepe beinhalten eine Welt aus Symbolen und Mythogrammen, die im 8. Jt. v. Chr. von der Bühne der altorientalischen Kulturen so spurlos verschwunden ist wie sie im 10. Jt. unvermittelt und in monumentaler Ausprägung erschienen war. Dieses Ende steht offenbar in direktem Zusammenhang mit der Entstehung, dem Erfolg und der Ausbreitung der bäuerlicher Lebensweise. Schon in der letzten Nutzungsphase im 9. Jt. ist eine drastische Reduzierung und Minimierung des früher bei der Errichtung der Heiligtümer notwendigen immensen Aufwandes zu beobachten. Wie die intensive Spoliennutzung nahelegt, werden die Bauten jetzt möglicherweise ausschließlich aus den Resten früherer Anlagen errichtet. Eine eingehende Analyse des ökonomischen Wandels und der hiermit einhergehenden völligen Umformung der religiösen Ausdrucksweisen wird einen wichtigen Beitrag zur Geschichte des Alten Orients und dessen früher Religion liefern.

Contact: K. Schmidt, Orient-Abteilung

zum Projekt: Göbekli Tepe

Research Field 3: Designed space

Sanctuaries are always consciously occupied, designed spaces for the practice of a cult of some kind. The spectrum ranges from simply laid-out nature sanctuaries via peak sanctuaries, stelae fields, wayside altars, burnt offering sites to monumental temples. The sanctuary as a designed space is the basic expression of a society or culture and its creativity and/or wealth - and possibly even the deliberate non-display of such. The form and design of a sanctuary reflect the form and design of the religion: its needs, demands and the objectives of the cult.

What expectations does a culture, social group or individual have of the sacred site? The sanctuaries are to be analysed with regard to the following aspects:

 

  • division of the space into public and private areas or conspicuously emphasized areas
  • depositing or destruction of the votives, i.e. cremation sites or store-rooms
  • paths or fixed points, succession of spaces
  • forms of ritual procedure or worship
  • screening of the sanctuary or visibility of the image of the deity or focus of the cult
  • dimensions of the designed space in relation to people.

 

The degree of unity, the external development, the network of paths within the complex, the different weighting given to external and internal appearance are the variables by which sacred spaces can be shaped and formed.

What are the common characteristics of sanctuaries in contrast to profane places? Among defining factors may be geographical features (water source, mountain peak, mountain plateau, cave), special features of the landscape (trees, clearing, copse) and requirements of the cult itself (line of sight, mythical places, places of social memory). Creative engagement with these determinants can lead to the production of a new type of structure, the adaptation of an already existing type, or even the design of the space in a way that completely ignores such typologies.

The spatial design can disregard the geographical features of the locality and it can also be determined by it. The functional requirements made by the cult itself can be taken into account in differing degrees in the lay-out of the sanctuary.
A key contribution can be made by large-scale analysis of the cult topography, i.e. the position that a sanctuary occupies within a territory or a defined cult landscape: is it located at the boundary, or does it define one? Does it constitute the centre, or is it isolated, or can a constellatory grouping be discerned?

Speakers

Nils Hellner

Research Projects

Sabäische Sakralarchitektur: Gestalt, Ausstattung und Kultpraktiken

Im Rahmen der Clusterforschung untersucht die Außenstelle Sanaa sabäische Heiligtümer intra muros in Bezug auf Kultpraktiken und innerstädtische Kommunikation. Ein Ziel des Projektes ist es, den Bereich des Sakralen, der im Sabäischen politische, gesellschaftliche und religiöse Aspekte vereint, innerhalb der beiden wichtigsten sabäischen Stadtanlagen Marib, der Hauptstadt des Reiches von Saba, und Sirwah zu erforschen. Erstmals für den südarabischen Raum wird dabei analysiert, in welchem Ausmaß die soziale Ordnung der sabäischen Gesellschaft mit ihren religiösen Vorstellungen die Gestaltung des sakralen Raums prägte. Wechselwirkungen zwischen den sich wandelnden Lebensbedingungen und der Religion vom Beginn der sabäischen Zeit am Anfang des 1. Jt. v. Chr. bis zum Untergang des Reiches im 6. nachchristlichen Jahrhundert werden dabei berücksichtigt. Von besonderer Bedeutung ist der Übergang vom Polytheismus zum Monotheismus im 4. Jh. n. Chr. und hier speziell die Auswirkungen auf die Sakralarchitektur sowie den Kult als Spiegel der sich ändernden sabäischen Gesellschaft.

Darüber hinaus erfolgt eine systematische Untersuchung der Kultpraktiken, Rituale und Votive anhand archäologischer Funde und Befunde und zwar in Abhängigkeit zur architektonischen Gestalt der Heiligtümer. Das epigraphische Quellenmaterial, das - sofern vorhanden - ergänzend zum archäologischen Kontext Hinweise auf den Kult geben kann, wird dabei gezielt analysiert. Eine systematische Materialsichtung behandelt darüber hinaus das bisher vernachlässigte Thema der religiösen Ikonographie der sabäischen Kultur.

Contact: I. Gerlach - Orientabteilung, Außenstelle Sanaa

Gadara/Umm Qais, Heiligtum am östlichen Stadteingang

Am östlichen Stadteingang von Gadara entstand ab der 1. Hälfte des 2. bis Anfang des 1. Jhs. v. Chr. ein großflächiger, künstlich eingeebneter Tempelbezirk. Er nahm das vermutlich Zeus Olympios geweihte Hauptheiligtum der Stadt auf.

Während das Areal am östlichen Stadteingang als Kultplatz seit Anfang des 1. Jhs. v. Chr. eine Nutzungskontinuität aufzeigt, unterliegt das Areal selbst von hellenistischer bis byzantinischer Zeit städtebaulich-kontextuell einem fortwährenden Wandlungsprozeß. Es ist zu vermuten, daß dieser Wandel mit der kultischen Bedeutung des Heiligtums interagierte, daß mithin zwischen den neu entstehenden Bauten und dem Heiligtum ein formaler und ein funktionaler Bezug bestand. Die Aufdeckung derartiger Bezüge vermag daher auch neue Einblicke in den Kult und seine Einbindung in das sich verändernde städtische Raumgefüge zu geben.

Contact: C. Bührig, Orient-Abteilung

zum Projekt: Gadara/Umm Quais

Göbekli Tepe

Die architektonische Gestaltung der monumentalen steinzeitlichen Heiligtümer des Göbekli Tepe folgt einem einheitlichen Grundgedanken. Es handelt sich um kreisförmig aufgestellte, monolithische T-förmige Pfeiler, die von Mauerstreifen verbunden werden, so daß der Innenraum klar vom Außen abgetrennt wird. Innen an die Mauern sind steinerne Bänke angelehnt. Im Zentrum der Anlagen steht immer ein Paar gleichartiger, aber besonders großer Pfeiler. Arme und Hände, die auf einigen dieser Pfeilern in Flachrelief dargestellt sind, lassen die Monolithe als menschengestaltig erkennen. Die T-Form erklärt sich somit als stilisierter Umriß einer von der Seite gesehenen Person. Die Bauform der Heiligtümer repräsentiert folglich eine im Kreis um ein zentrales Paar gruppierte Versammlung steinerner Wesenheiten. Ob es sich um hypäthrale Anlagen handelt oder um überdeckte Räume, ist noch nicht geklärt. Die Miteinbeziehung des Themenkomplexes "megalithische Steinkeise" in die zukünftigen Forschungen vermag sicherlich derartige und viele andere Fragen, die sich angesichte dieses neuen Architekturtyps auftun, zu beantworten.

Contact: K. Schmidt, Orient-Abteilung

zum Projekt: Göbekli Tepe

Uruk - Kulttopographie eines babylonischen Heiligtums

Das Eanna-Heiligtum in Uruk entstand in der uns bekannten Form am Beginn des dritten Jahrtausends v. Chr. und bestand bis in die seleukidische Zeit hinein. Es war der Göttin Inanna/Ischtar geweiht, die - neben dem Himmelsgott Anu - ihren Hauptverehrungsort in Uruk hatte. Das Heiligtum setzte sich zu allen Zeiten aus einem im Zentrum der Anlage errichteten Tempel auf einer Terrasse bzw. einer Zikkurrat sowie einer Anzahl von umgebenden Höfen unterschiedlicher Funktion zusammen. Es handelt sich um einen Typ eines städtischen Hauptheiligtums, wie er in Babylonien mehrfach nachgewiesen ist. Das Heiligtum erfuhr im Laufe der Jahrtausende mehrere Umgestaltungen, die erhebliche bauliche Veränderungen mit sich brachten, mit denen jedoch das Grundkonzept nicht geändert wurde.

Im Rahmen des Forschungsfeldes "Gestalteter Raum" sollen die verschiedenen Bereiche des Heiligtums auf ihre Funktion hin analysiert und versucht werden, deren Bezüge zu den Kulterfordernissen mehrerer Zeitperioden herauszuarbeiten.

Über Vergleiche zur architektonischen Gestalt und zu archäologischen Befunden weiterer babylonischer Heiligtümer sollen die Charakteristika derartiger Heiligtümer hervorgehoben werden. Wesentlich wird darüber hinaus die Einbeziehung altorientalischer Schriftquellen sein, über die in der Verknüpfung mit den archäologischen Ergebnissen neue Erkenntnisse zur Funktion der einzelnen Tempelbereiche zu erwarten sind. Eine enge Vernetzung mit Spezialisten der altorientalischen Philologie ist daher angestrebt.

Contact: M. van Ess, Orient-Abteilung

zum Projekt: Uruk (Warka)

Research Field 4: Votives and ritual

Rital sites have at all times been domains of encounter with the sacred. The encounter could take the form of symbolic actions and ritual, such as processions, dance and music, prayer, oracles, animal sacrifices, libations, incense offerings, dedications and banquets or ritual meals. Rituals, just like the architecture and interior design of a sanctuary, reflect the conceptions of a given society, and an understanding of rituals is important if we aspire to a historical reconstruction of those conceptions. Today however the sequence of the rites, i.e. the formalized, orchestrated and repeatedly performed acts, can only be ascertained in part. For the region of the ancient Near East, ancient Egypt and the Graeco-Roman world, written documents like ritual texts and laws, and graphic representations like vase paintings and frescos, can provide clues as to the form and sequence of some of these acts. For rituals which were not documented in writing or by images, on the other hand, such relics as remain in the earth are the only evidence we have of cult activity.

In many sanctuaries layers of ash are to be found, mixed with animal bones and artefacts, which could constitute the material remains of sacrifices and/or ritual meals. Analysis of such relicts requires interdisciplinary cooperation (e.g. consulting specialists in the analysis of archaeofauna and botanical finds), as has been practised for a long time already in various projects. This can throw light upon aspects of the rites for which there is no written or iconographic testimony.

Extremely common - and not infrequently the only evidence of the existence of an ancient sanctuary - are votive offerings which were left at the same spot where they were once displayed or were subsequently deposited separately in the sanctuary. These offerings to deities bear witness to the symbolic exchange of gifts between believer and deity, and they can reflect both the religious conceptions and the social background of the cult participants, such as status, gender and origin. The investigations of the votive offerings are aimed at gaining information about the composition of the cult society and thereby also about the character of the ritual site - whether, for example, it was of local or transregional significance; or was visited mainly by women or by men. At many sacred sites there are large quantities of votives spanning several centuries. A diachronic analysis of votive spectrums may shed light on the evolution of ritual sites, and also more broadly it allows specific period preferences to be observed regarding votive types and the conventions of their use, which may reflect societal change, not only changes in religious beliefs or practices.
Only with considerable reservations can what we know about ritual practice in ancient sanctuaries be applied to the sanctuaries of prehistoric cultures. Often it is questionable whether there was any concept at all of deities to whom sacrifices and offerings were made and for whom rites were performed. Therefore basic questions need to be asked about the nature of prevailing religious notions. In this effort, particular importance attaches to the rock art from the late Stone Age onwards such as may be found in cave sanctuaries, for example. So far only an approximate evaluation has been possible of the Neolithic iconography now available for study in the Near East. What is already clear is that image and cult were closely associated in this region and that a notation system predating writing existed in a religious context. The creation of this system evidently enabled the society that created it to fix its cultural memory effectively. A comparison would appear to be possible here with the votives displayed in ancient sanctuaries and the rituals practised there.

Speakers

Gunvor Lindström - Dietrich Raue - Thomas Schattner

Research Projects

Göbekli Tepe

Die Heiligtümer am Göbekli Tepe waren ohne Zweifel Orte für rituelle Handlungen. Welche Art und Gestalt diese besaßen, ist noch völlig ungeklärt. Überhaupt können verschiedene bei antiken Heiligtümern als gegeben anzusehende Grundlagen, daß es z.B. Götter gab, denen Opfer und Votivgaben dargebracht wurden, am Göbekli Tepe nicht ungeprüft übernommen werden. Ob die innen in den Kreisanlagen angefügten steinernen Bänke als Altäre fungierten, ob die T-Pfeiler, die als menschengestaltige steinerne Wesenheiten zu verstehen sind, Götter darstellen oder Menschen, gilt es noch zu ergründen. Erkennbar ist, daß ein fest definiertes Symbolsystem, mit Einkerbungen notiert auf steinernen Täfelchen, aber auch monumental ausgeführt auf den Reliefpfeilern des Göbekli Tepe, offenbar eine wirkungsvolle Verankerung des kulturellen Gedächtnisses dieser Gesellschaft ermöglichte.

Contact: K. Schmidt, Orient-Abteilung

zum Projekt: Göbekli Tepe

Sabäische Sakralarchitektur: Gestalt, Ausstattung und Kultpraktiken

Im Rahmen der Clusterforschung untersucht die Außenstelle Sanaa sabäische Heiligtümer intra muros in Bezug auf Kultpraktiken und innerstädtische Kommunikation. Ein Ziel des Projektes ist es, den Bereich des Sakralen, der im Sabäischen politische, gesellschaftliche und religiöse Aspekte vereint, innerhalb der beiden wichtigsten sabäischen Stadtanlagen Marib, der Hauptstadt des Reiches von Saba, und Sirwah zu erforschen. Erstmals für den südarabischen Raum wird dabei analysiert, in welchem Ausmaß die soziale Ordnung der sabäischen Gesellschaft mit ihren religiösen Vorstellungen die Gestaltung des sakralen Raums prägte. Wechselwirkungen zwischen den sich wandelnden Lebensbedingungen und der Religion vom Beginn der sabäischen Zeit am Anfang des 1. Jt. v. Chr. bis zum Untergang des Reiches im 6. nachchristlichen Jahrhundert werden dabei berücksichtigt. Von besonderer Bedeutung ist der Übergang vom Polytheismus zum Monotheismus im 4. Jh. n. Chr. und hier speziell die Auswirkungen auf die Sakralarchitektur sowie den Kult als Spiegel der sich ändernden sabäischen Gesellschaft.

Darüber hinaus erfolgt eine systematische Untersuchung der Kultpraktiken, Rituale und Votive anhand archäologischer Funde und Befunde und zwar in Abhängigkeit zur architektonischen Gestalt der Heiligtümer. Das epigraphische Quellenmaterial, das - sofern vorhanden - ergänzend zum archäologischen Kontext Hinweise auf den Kult geben kann, wird dabei gezielt analysiert. Eine systematische Materialsichtung behandelt darüber hinaus das bisher vernachlässigte Thema der religiösen Ikonographie der sabäischen Kultur.

Contact: I. Gerlach - Orientabteilung, Außenstelle Sanaa