Roman Cult Images

Roman Cult Images : The Lives and Worship of Idols from the Iron Age to Late Antiquity

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In this book, Philip Kiernan explores how cult images functioned in Roman temples from the Iron Age to Late Antiquity in the Roman west. He demonstrates how and why a temple's idols, were more important to ritual than other images such as votive offerings and decorative sculpture. These idols were seen by many to be divine and possessed of agency. They were, thus, the primary focus of worship. Aided by cross-cultural comparative material, Kiernan's study brings a biographical approach to explore the 'lives' of idols and cult images - how they were created, housed in temples, used and worshipped, and eventually destroyed or buried. He also shows how the status of cult images could change, how new idols and other cult images were being continuously created, and how, in each phase of their lives, we find evidence for the significant power of idols.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 377 pages
  • 185 x 260 x 21mm | 940g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Worked examples or Exercises; 94 Halftones, black and white
  • 1108487343
  • 9781108487344
  • 3,140,260

Table of contents

1. The birth of cult images: early Rome and the Iron Age; 2. The birth of cult images: continuity and innovation in the Imperial Period; 3. Idols at home; 4. Idols in action; 5. The end of idols.
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Review quote

'... Kiernan's work is an outstanding and welcome addition to fields dealing with provincial material cultures. His argument for distinguishing between idols and other sorts of cult image matters greatly if we are to study how those idols had a particular agency.' James Frakes, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
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About Philip Kiernan

Philip Kiernan is Associate Professor of Art History at Kennesaw State University, Georgia. He is the author of Miniature Votive Offerings (2009) and has also published numerous articles on Roman art, artefacts, numismatics, and religion. His archaeological excavations have included a Hellenistic-Roman market building at Alexandria Troas, a Bronze-Iron Age tumulus at Hassloch, and most recently a Romano-Celtic temple at Wareswald.
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