Contributions in this volume demonstrate how, across the ancient Mediterranean and over hundreds of years, women’s rituals intersected with the political, economic, cultural, or religious spheres of their communities in a way that has only recently started to gain sustained academic attention. The volume aims to tease out a number of different approaches and contexts, and to expand existing studies of women in the ancient world as well as scholarship on religious and social history.
The contributors face a famously difficult task: ancient authors rarely recorded aspects of women’s lives, including their songs, prophecies, and prayers. Many of the objects women made and used in ritual were perishable and have not survived; certain kinds of ritual objects (lowly undecorated pots, for example) tend not even to be recorded in archaeological reports. However, the broad range of contributions in this volume demonstrates the multiplicity of materials that can be used as evidence – including inscriptions, textiles, ceramics, figurative art, and written sources – and the range of methodologies that can be used, from analysis of texts, images, and material evidence to cognitive and comparative approaches.