The Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions (SAMR) seeks proposals for three co-sponsored sessions for the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in San Antonio, November 20–23, 2021.

Please see descriptions for each of the three sessions below. The deadline for submisions is March 23, 2021.


Cultural Production and Social Networks within Greco-Roman Religion: The Religion of Enslaved Peoples and Freedpersons

Joint Session With: Redescribing Christian Origins (RCO) and Greco-Roman Religions

This panel will also continue a set of conversations begun in the 2020 RCO cycle on questions of typology, descriptive categories, practices, and the production of knowledge.

Of particular interest for this panel is evidence for the religious discourses and practices of the enslaved and formerly enslaved (freedpersons). Potential foci for this topic include analyses of both literate and illiterate enslaved/freedperson populations throughout the ancient Mediterranean world: their day-to-day lives, literate training, and/or relative cultural capital within households or associated networks. We are open to a variety of forms of evidence in exploration of this subject matter, including so-called material culture, texts and other literary evidence, epigraphic evidence, and archaeological data related to reconstructed ritual practices. This session will be co-sponsored with the Greco-Roman Religions section and the Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions. All regions and time periods are open for consideration; however, we are particularly interested in evidence from the Roman Imperial period.

To propose a paper for this session, please do so via SBL here.


Homo Necans, Homo Competens: Ritual Killing and Competition in the Ancient Mediterranean 

Joint Session With: Religious Competition in Late Antiquity

Ritual killing positions humans against animals, mythic prototypes and other human groups vying for social capital and supra-regional power.  Such killings may be coterminous with feasting, monumentalization, the definition of sacred spaces, and the blending of historical triumph with performances for the gods; they also establish frameworks for the articulation of cultural boundaries of ethnicity (nationality), social status (free or enslaved), age grades and gender. This panel invites papers exploring ritual violence as performance and competition in Greco-Roman religious practice, including Jewish and Christian traditions; authors are encouraged to reflect on the trajectories of the theoretical frameworks established nearly fifty years ago in Burkert’s seminal Homo Necans, e.g., ethology, functionalism, structuralism, and the long arc of human behavior from the Palaeolithic to Late Antiquity.

To propose a paper for this session, please do so via SBL here.


Animals in Ancient Mediterranean Religions

Joint Session With: Greco-Roman Religions

This panel examines human/animal relations in antiquity beyond the topos of animal sacrifice. We invite papers addressing this topic in literary and archaeological sources, and exploring the roles animals played in religious thought and practice. How, e.g., might we understand theriomorphic gods, the ritual use of animal masks and masquerades, or of animal parts in magical potions? Presenters may submit their papers for a planned publication.

To propose a paper for this session, please do so via SBL here.