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Crafting for the God(s):
Dynamics of Cult, Craft Production, and Socio-Technological Identities
September 11-15, 2022
Cult and craft production are two central tenets of the ancient world that have persisted
and evolved into the modern cultural sphere. Cult, religion, and ritual practice are direct
expressions of society’s ontology and, therefore, are fundamental to the human approach to the living and material world and to social identity. The investigation of various modes of
agro-pastoral practices and craft production can reveal a great deal of information about the complex connections between social and cultural identities, production technologies,
networks of material acquisition, and trade. In the ancient context, the subjects of cult and
craft practices are difficult to address individually due to the invisibility of both ritual and craft processes. In considering the interaction between these entities in tandem, we highlight the highly integrated nature of production with ritual belief and practice that has become masked with time.
This Minerva School aims to consider cult and craft production in a coherent way and in
their mutual influences in the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE in the Levant, Aegean, Arabia, and
Egypt. By integrating scholarship on the ancient world with experiential, anthropological and ethnographic methodological approaches, we will observe these multifaceted relationships in modern and ancient practice and invite discussion on the “unseen" aspects of social and technological identities in the worlds of craft and cult.
Within this framework, the four-day workshop will incorporate in-person and virtual lectures, experiential activities, and visits to active workshops and craftspeople that employ
modern and traditional methods to produce goods for religious and secular consumption.
Static observations from the ancient past are to be transformed into the dynamic world from the physical, performative, and processual perspectives.
We will also visit active excavations and modern markets in Jerusalem to enjoy the
landscape and significance of the surrounding environment. We intend for these activities
and conversations to allow us, as scholars, to experience first-hand the things that we cannot envision or imagine from the ancient world, engaging in all five-senses to broaden cognitive possibilities and facilitate creative approaches in scholarship.