A 6. Ritual Communities and Local Identities in the Iron Age-Archaic Western Mediterranean

In the 21th century, the boundaries of our established “communities” and local identities are increasingly reworked to articulate the changing social and political realities of a global world. The rituals in which we engage play a fundamental role in this process, whether it be in preserving “local” traditions or by integrating new groups into our social fabric. This session relates such issues to the ancient world by examining how groups in the western Mediterranean participate in global and local communities through ritual practice and what this means for understanding “identity” and “connectedness” during the Iron Age and Archaic periods. Ritual practice has increasingly been interpreted as a shared experience that creates distinct communities of people. In many cases, multiple “ritual communities” could co-exist within a single area. By understanding these variant expressions of ritual, we can explore the tension between local and broader regional networks and better define the roles of different ritual spaces. The session also stresses the importance of understanding societies in the western Mediterranean as locally constructed. In some cases, old rituals were re-instituted, perhaps hearkening back to older traditions of local identity and reflecting some degree of religious fundamentalism. In other cases, new practices were incorporated into older systems of religious worship and ritual expression, implying that the ritual sphere was gradually adapted for new functions. The regional diversity of the papers may also identify whether there are “global” patterns of change and practice. In this way, we seek to understand how the creation of ritual communities may have paved the way for a new level of social and political integration in the western Mediterranean.


  1. Ana Delgado (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)

Encuentros en la liminalidad: espacios sagrados, contactos e intercambios en el sur de Iberia en los inicios del I milenio a.C.

  1. Tamar Hodos (University of Bristol)

Ritual Communities and Local Identities in Iron Age Sicily

  1. Alfredo González-Ruibal (Spanish National Research Council – CSIC), Rafael Rodríguez Martínez (Pontevedra’s Country Council) y Xurxo Ayán Vila (Spanish National Research Council – CSIC)

Encounters in the Ditch: Ritual and the Middle Ground in an Iron Age Hillfort in Galicia (Spain)

  1. Lela M. Urquhart (Stanford University)

Rituals and Community Cohesion in Central-Western Sicily

  1. Meritxell Ferrer (Universitat Pompeu Fabra – Barcelona)

La (re-)creación de una memoria: la materialización de un “sentido de lugar” en la Sicilia occidental s. VIII-V a.C.

  1. Mireia López-Bertran (University of Glasgow)

Modelling Communities: Punic Terracottas in Rituals