Water and Sensory Experience: Revisiting the Procession of the Eleusinian Mysteries in Roman Greece

Friday, October 2, 2020
4 pm | Online

Abstract: The Eleusinian Mysteries that took place at the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Eleusis (outside of Athens, Greece) were a mystery cult that stretched back as far as the Bronze Age. While we do not know the full details of what occurred when a pilgrim was initiated into the cult, we have been able to reconstruct the procession initiates took from Athens to Eleusis--a 22-km-long sensorial tour de force. In the Roman period, particularly in the second century CE, with the arrival of an aqueduct commissioned by the emperor Hadrian, the forecourt of the sanctuary, where the procession culminated before the initiation, was drastically altered with the addition of a fountain. Employing the tenants of sensory archaeology, this talk will revisit the procession of the Mysteries to emphasize the role of flowing water and its impact on past encounters in the space, not only illustrating the complex experience initiates had in the Roman period, but also the unique expressions of Greek and Roman identity.

Please join us for what will be a fascinating talk.  For anyone new to our Brown Bags, they are informal, start at 4:00, include a ~45-minute talk and some Q&A, and end by 5:15.