Gods in the making

This panel explores the assimilation, transformation and migration of deities in the Ancient Mediterranean. Papers cover a diverse range of periods (Classical Greek to early Byzantine), areas (Mesopotamia, Syria, Greece and the Balkans, North Africa and Rome), and communicative contexts. The aim throughout is to move away from a model of cultural adaptation as ‘translation’ of essentially stable signifiers; and to sound out some of the more subtle ways in which the gods as cultural shapeshifters par excellence travelled and transformed themselves in the ancient Mediterranean. Andrej Petrovic studies some of the creative misunderstandings that kept ancient religion in constant flux, using as his example the fate of Empousa and other demons in late antiquity and early Byzantine times. Peter Alpass and Ted Kaizer look at the ways in which worshippers negotiated the shifting cultural landscapes of Nabataea and Dura-Europus. Penny Wilson investigates similar processes in the context of Roman Egypt, asking why and when the gods Bes and Anubis start being portrayed in Roman armour. Gul Isin studies the process of ‘localization’ that Apollo underwent in Southern Pisidia and Pamphylia. Finally, Anna Leone looks at what happens when a local cult (that of Mercury Sober in North Africa) migrates to the Imperial centre in Rome.


  1. Gul Isin (Akdeniz Universitesi)

The Great God Mamblasenos/Apollo

  1. Andrej Petrovic (University of Durham)

A demon in the making: Empousa and the European folklore

  1. Anna Leone (University of Durham)

Between Rome and North Africa: the cult of Mercurius Sober

  1. Penny Wilson (University of Durham)

The Egyptian gods Bes and Anubis as Roman soldiers

  1. Peter Alpass (University of Durham)

The creation of a Nabataean Isis

  1. Ted Kaizer (University of Durham)

Palmyrene worshippers at Dura Europos: re-creating the local pantheon?