Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America

The Religion of Little Things: Small Finds and Big Ideas

January 7-10, 2021      Chicago, Illinois

Monumental architecture, altars, and statues grab all the headlines, but what do the ubiquitous and overwhelming small finds—pottery sherds, animal bones, gems, amulets, coins (in short anything small or miniature)—contribute to our understanding of practice and performance at religious sites and elsewhere? For this session we seek papers that address the religion of little things in innovative and theoretically informed ways.

  • How did context (sanctuary, home, street, rural landscape, unprovenanced even, etc) impact the ritual employment of little things?
  • What are the methodological challenges of working with archaeological fragments?
  • In what ways do these objects shift between religious and non-religious contexts?
  • How do assemblages of small finds allow us to better reconstruct ancient religious practices?
  • Did the manufacturing of small finds matter for effective religious performance?

Abstracts should be submitted by email attachment as .doc or .docx files to and should be from 500-600 words in length for a paper to last between 15 to 20 minutes.   You must be a member of the AIA to present at the meeting.  All abstracts will undergo blind review. Abstracts should contain a title and a word count, but should not have any information regarding the identity of the submitter. The deadline for submission of abstracts is Thursday, March 12, 2020, and all abstracts for papers will be reviewed anonymously.   Please direct all queries to SAMR at