HomeLandscapes and sanctuaries. The rediscovery of cult places in the Aegean Basin and in Southern Italy

HomeLandscapes and sanctuaries. The rediscovery of cult places in the Aegean Basin and in Southern Italy

Landscapes and sanctuaries. The rediscovery of cult places in the Aegean Basin and in Southern Italy

Paysages et sanctuaires. La redécouverte des lieux de culte dans le bassin égéen et en Italie méridionale

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Published on Thursday, February 02, 2023


The international interdisciplinary conference “Landscapes and Sanctuaries. The rediscovery of cult places in the Aegean Basin and in Southern Italy”, focuses on the study of landscapes and the rediscovery of sanctuaries in Southern Italy and Greece between the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. It invites to cross archaeological and historical approaches to understand the link between sanctuaries and landscapes, but also the way these data have conditioned the rediscovery of lost archaeological sites.



The sacredness of places in Antiquity is not only perceptible through architectural remains, it is also manifest through a set of sensations, ranging from hearing to sight, the outlines of which recent studies have sought to restore (Alcock 2002 ; Scheid, Polignac 2010 ; Brulé 2012). In this approach to sensory archaeology, sight and the perception of space occupy a predominant place. In the central Mediterranean and the Aegean basin, examples of sanctuaries integrated into landscapes, or even sacred landscape elements, are frequent and numerous (Alcock, Osborne 1994). Mountains (Langdon 2000 ; Kyriakidis 2005 ; Belis 2015), caves and chasms (Faure 1964 ; Ustinova 2009 ; Sporn 2010), forests and woods (Birge 1985 ; Cazanove, Scheid 1993, springs (Muthmann 1975 ; Kobusch 2020) or even the open sea (Fenet 2016) are all places likely to be invested by man with a sacred dimension. The modalities of the rites and cults that take place there are then established according to the characteristics of the divine personalities and their integration into nature and the environment. The result is both recurrent links (the association of nymphs with springs and caves, for example), but also local particularities that have often fuelled attempts by ancient and modern observers to explain them.

Among the latter were the pioneers of archaeology in the second half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, who went on expeditions or study tours, first to southern Italy and Sicily, and then to Ottoman Greece. During their explorations, they discovered or rediscovered the remains of ancient Greek sanctuaries, most often immersed in a preserved environment, which they identified by means of ancient sources and contemporary maps (Zambon 2014 ; Lefèvre-Novaro 2021). These early travels contributed to the foundation of the book documentation, travel accounts and illustrations that inspired later explorations, but also shaped the scientific archaeology that was being established (Gran-Aymerich 2007).

Among the sites rediscovered by these pioneers are mainly sanctuaries. The association of the latter with salient points in the landscape contributed both to the attraction they held for the early Romantics and to reflections on the relationship between landscape and sanctuaries. These issues sometimes lead to the beginnings of work on religious anthropology in ancient Greece. Finally, the exceptionality of certain landscapes also contributes to attracting foreign travellers to archaeological or historical approaches, whose observations are valuable testimonies on the state of certain sites, still preserved from their time.

The international interdisciplinary conference "Landscapes and Sanctuaries. The rediscovery of sanctuaries in the Aegean basin and in southern Italy", organised by the ITI HiSAAR (axis 4 - Ritual practices: gestures, objects and representations) with the support of the UMR 7044 Archimede, is aimed at researchers working on the rediscovery of ancient sanctuaries, on the relationship between landscapes and places of worship, as well as on the archaeology, history and anthropology of ancient religions. The study area is limited to southern Italy and Sicily on the one hand, and continental Greece and the Aegean basin on the other.

Le colloque international interdisciplinaire « Paysages et sanctuaires. La redécouverte des sanctuaires dans le bassin égéen et en Italie méridionale », organisé par l’ITI HiSAAR (axe 4 - Pratiques rituelles : gestes, objets et représentations) avec le soutien de l’UMR 7044 Archimède, s’adresse aux chercheurs travaillant sur la redécouverte des sanctuaires antiques, sur les rapports entre paysages et lieux de culte, ainsi que sur l’archéologie, l’histoire et à l’anthropologie des religions antiques. L’espace d’étude est limité à l’Italie méridionale et la Sicile d’une part, la Grèce continentale et le bassin égéen d’autre part.

The papers, presented in French, English, Italian and German, will address the following themes

  • Written and iconographic sources on the rediscovery of sanctuaries: manuscripts, travel diaries and journals, newspaper articles, drawings, sketches, engravings, paintings, etc.
  • The different types of sanctuaries in their geographical and topographical context: understanding and interpretation of the remains, description of installations closely linked to natural elements such as water (cisterns and drains, wells and fountains, etc.), relations between installations and landscape, etc.
  • The networks of intellectuals at the origins of archaeology in southern Italy and Greece and their role in the rediscovery of sanctuaries: personalities who contributed to the discoveries in both countries, travel routes between Italy and Greece, the role of informal communications in the rediscovery of forgotten sites, etc.
  • Sanctuaries and the dynamism of the landscape: the relationship between places of worship and the environment, natural markers that characterise the sacred space, the evolution of the landscape and places of worship over time, etc.
  • Anthropological reflections on the notion of "sacred" and its relationship with the landscape: reconstitution of rites and cults in specific contexts, divine personalities and the environment, interpretation of the link between divinities and landscape, etc.

Submission guidelines

Proposals for papers, of a maximum of 3000 characters, should be formulated in one of the languages of the conference and sent by e-mail to Daniela Lefèvre-Novaro and Corentin Voisin (dlefevre@unistra.fr; corentin.voisin@unistra.fr)

before 15 April.

Candidates should also specify their institution, their rank and their speciality. The papers selected by the scientific committee will be announced on 15 June by e-mail. Each selected speaker will have 45 minutes to present his or her research and 15 minutes to answer questions. The contributions will be the subject of a complementary expertise and a publication after the conference (contributions will be sent at the end of February 2024).

Call for posters

In addition to the papers, young researchers are invited to submit posters on the main research themes developed during the conference. These posters will present a cult place in southern Italy, in Sicily or in the Aegean basin that was the subject of research between the 18th and the first decades of the 20th century. They will include developments on the travellers' reflections on the relationship between the landscape and the location of the sanctuary, as well as anthropological observations on the rites and cults held there. Poster proposals should be sent to the organisers (dlefevre@unistra.fr; corentin.voisin@unistra.fr) by filling in the form in attachment. They should contain 3000 characters and 1 to 3 captioned images illustrating the researchers' remarks. A full session of the conference will be dedicated to the presentation of the posters and to scientific exchanges: each author will have 15 minutes to summarise his or her approach and main conclusions. He or she will also have the opportunity to publish his or her text, which will be submitted to the conference's Scientific Committee for review.

Poster form

  • Name, Surname :
  • Institution :
  • e-mail :
  • Areas of study :
  • Poster’s title :
  • Summary (150 words) :

The event will take place in Strasbourg (FR), at the Maison Interuniversitaire des Sciences de l'Homme - Alsace (Misha), 5 allée du Général Rouvillois, 67083 Strasbourg Cedex, in the Salle des conférences, from 21 to 23 November 2023.


Daniela Lefèvre-Novaro and Corentin Voisin (Unistra - UMR 7044 Archimède).


Alcock Susan, Archaeologies of the Greek Past : Landscapes, Monuments and Memories, Cambridge, CUP, 2002.

Alcock Susan, Osborne Robin, Placing the Gods: Sanctuaries and Sacred Space in Ancient Greece, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994.

Belis Alexis M., Fire on the Mountain : A Comprehensive Study of Greek Mountaintop Sanctuaries, Thèse de doctorat, Princeton, 2015.

Birge Darice E., Sacred Groves in the Ancient Greek World, Thèse de doctorat, University of Michigan, 1985.

Brulé Pierre, Comment percevoir le sanctuaire grec ? Une analyse sensorielle du paysage sacré, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2012.

Cazanove O. (de), Scheid J., Les bois sacrés : Actes du Colloque International (Naples 1989), Naples, Publications du Centre Jean Bérard, 1993.

Faure Paul, Fonctions des cavernes crétoises, Paris, De Boccard, 1964.

Fenet Annick, Les dieux olympiens et la mer, Rome, Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2016.

Gran-Aymerich Ève, Les chercheurs de passé 1798-1945. Aux sources de l’archéologie, Paris, CNRS éditions, 2007.

Kobusch Philipp, « Fountains and Basins in Greek Sanctuaries. On the Relationship Between Ritual Performance and Architecture », in Chiarenza Nicola, Haug Annette, Müller Ulrich (dir.), The Power of Urban Water. Studies in Premodern Urbanism, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2020, p. 69–84.

Krenn Elisabeth, « Heilige Haine im griechischen Altertum – Ursprung, Bedeutung und Funktion », in Bubenheimer Friederike, Bahe Stefanie (dir.), Kult und Funktion griechischer Heiligtümer in archaischer und klassischer Zeit, 1. Archäologisches Studentenkolloquium Heidelberg, 18. – 20. Februar 1995, Mayence, Dt. Archäologen-Verb.-Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, 1996, p. 1-10.

Kyriakidis Evangelos, Ritual in the Aegean: The Minoan peak sanctuaries, Londres, Duckworth, 2005.

Langdon Merle K., « Mountains in Greek Religion », The Classical World, 93, 5, 2000, p. 461–470.

Lefèvre-Novaro Daniela (dir.), À l'aube de l'archéologie grecque : catalogue de l'exposition participative organisée à l'occasion du bicentenaire du 25 mars 1821 : Strasbourg, MISHA, 19 mars-16 avril 2021, Strasbourg, IdEx-Université de Strasbourg, 2021.

Lefèvre-Novaro Daniela, Lorentz C. (dir.), Dessiner la Grèce. L’œil et la main de Carl Haller von Hallerstein, sous presse.

Muthmann Friedrich, Studien zur Quellenverehrung im Altertum und Mittelalter, Archäologischer Verlag-Philipp von Zabern, Bâle-Mayence, 1975.

Scheid John, Polignac François (de), « Qu’est-ce qu’un ‘paysage religieux’ ? Représentations cultuelles de l’espace dans les sociétés anciennes. Avant-propos. », Revue de l’Histoire des Religions, 227, 4, 2010, p. 427-434.

Silvestrelli Francesca, Le duc de Luynes et la découverte de la Grande Grèce, CNRS et Centre Jean Bérard, Naples, 2017.

Sporn Katja, « Espace naturel et paysages religieux : les grottes dans le monde grec », Revue de l’histoire des religions, 4, 2010, p. 553-571.

Ustinova Yulia, Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind : Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth, Oxford, OUP, 2009.

Zambon Alessia, Aux origines de l'archéologie en Grèce ; Fauvel et sa méthode, Paris, CTHS-INHA, 2014.


  • Salle des conférences - Maison Interuniversitaire des Sciences de l'Homme - Alsace (Misha), 5 allée du Général Rouvillois
    Strasbourg, France (67083)

Event attendance modalities

Hybrid event (on site and online)


  • Saturday, April 15, 2023


  • archéologie, lieu de culte

Information source

  • Corentin Voisin
    courriel : corentin [dot] voisin [at] unistra [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Landscapes and sanctuaries. The rediscovery of cult places in the Aegean Basin and in Southern Italy », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, February 02, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1agx

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