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Svenja Nagel publishes dissertation

12. Sep. 2019

Dr. Svenja Nagel, associate member of the Cluster "Asia and Europe" and the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, published her dissertation Isis im Römischen Reich with the Harrassowitz Verlag. The two-volume publication is part of the Philippika series (volume 109).

During the Hellenistic and Roman Imperial periods, the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis and closely associated deities successively spread around the whole Mediterranean, reaching its peak during the 2nd century AD. The present book is concerned with the development of the cult in Graeco-Roman Egypt, and its transfer and adaptation in the Western Mediterranean. A main focus of the work is the theological concept of the goddess and the changes it underwent in- and outside Egypt under the influence of different cultural traditions and agencies.

Part I contains a comprehensive collection, translation and interpretation of Egyptian and Greek textual sources from Graeco-Roman Egypt. The complex hieroglyphic wall inscriptions and ritual scenes of the indigenous temples from this era present a rich picture of official theology, cult topography and mythology. They are complemented by Demotic and Greek texts containing hymns, prayers, graffiti, literary and magical texts, as well as the Greek Isis-aretalogy, which grant insights to recent innovations and to the personal relationship to, and the conception of, Isis within the multicultural population.

The main objective of part II is to evaluate what kind of import the results gained from the Egyptian evidence might have for the understanding of the adaptation and conceptualisation of the Isis cult in the Western Mediterranean. In order to approach this question, the architecture and equipment of sanctuaries as well as the cult practices, iconography, official and private dedications, and the underlying concepts of the Egyptian deities are examined in a survey of archaeological and epigraphical evidence from selected regions of the Roman Empire. The regions chosen for these case studies show differing preconditions concerning their geographical situation, their cultural influences and their historical relationship with Egypt and the Egyptian cults. In a final step, the literary and philosophical treatments of the Isiac cult(s) by the Greeks and Romans themselves, exemplified by Plutarch’s De Iside and Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, are given a detailed re-evaluation in light of the analysed material.


Dr. Svenja Nagel was Ph.D Candidate with a scholarship in Cluster’s Project D7 “Oriental Cults” from January 2009 to December 2011. From November 2012 to September 2015, she was involved in research project MC 10Cultural Plurality and the Fusion of Traditions between East and West", specifically in subproject "The Magic of Transculturality". Her work focuses on Egyptian religion, especially in the Graeco-Roman Period with its various cultural influences. Her main interests are Hieroglyphic temple inscriptions and the Greek and Demotic magical papyri.

You can find the volume on the website of Harrassowitz Verlag.


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