Gunnel Ekroth

The "profanity" of Greek sanctuaries? Defining the temenos as a space for divine-human interaction 600 BC-200 AD

Greek sanctuaries have attracted considerable interest within Classical scholarship for more than a century but mainly from the viewpoint of divine presence and its expression in the form of temples, statues and monuments. The project adopts a novel approach by focusing on the interaction between gods and humans from the human perspective. The aim is to provide a more diversified and comprehensive understanding of sanctuaries as both physical and cognitive entities, but also of the Greek notions of the sacred and the profane. The starting point is the Greek concept temenos (”that which has been cut off”), which referred to the space where the gods were worshipped but which humans also used and administered. The project is based on an integrated analysis of texts, inscriptions, images and archaeological remains from 600 BC to 200 AD and has three objectives. 1) How sanctuaries were separated from the profane surroundings, investigated through a study of the term temenos in inscriptions and texts, and how the demarcation can be traced in the archaeological record. 2) A definition of human presence inside sanctuaries based on which space and structures were used only by men and if the arrangement of a temenos aimed at uniting or separating gods and humans. 3) How the establishment and use of a temenos relates to the Greek notions of the sacred both as given by the gods and as constructed by humans, and how human presence may have affected the sacredness of this space.
Grant administrator
Uppsala University
Reference number
SEK 2,262,000.00
Classical Archaeology and Ancient History