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Urban Religion in the Desert: Perspectives from Palmyra

New edited journal volume by former postdoc Amy C. Miranda and Professor Rubina Raja.

Palmyra’s Temple of Baalshamin (today destroyed). Photo by Rubina Raja.

A special issue of the journal Religion in the Roman Empire revolving around urban religion in the ancient city of Palmyra has just been published.

The religious life of the oasis city of Palmyra has received a lot a scholarly attention over the last couple of decades. In the just published journal issue, scholars now delve into Palmyrene religious life through the two recently developed concepts of ‘urban religion’ and ‘anomalocivitas’.

Urban religion and anomolocivitas

The concept of ‘urban religion’ has been developed over the last years within the framework of the project Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations (FOR 2779) based at Erfurt University. Through this concept, religious practices are studied in order to learn more about how they shaped both urban space and movements within urban space. ‘Anomalocivitas’ is a concept that the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) at Aarhus University has worked with and further developed through its research on past urbanism and the different networks that connected urban nodes. The caravan city of Palmyra was a node in a network, and, as the just published journal issue highlights, it was also an urban site with an anomalous character setting it apart from other provincial sites – an anomalocivitas.

In five articles, five scholars with a profound knowledge of ancient Palmyra review the evidence of the city’s religious life through the lenses of these two concepts. “The studies not only inform understandings of religious life in Palmyra, but contribute to developing the rich texture of religious life across the Roman Empire.” (Miranda & Raja 2022, 166).

The volume is edited by former postdoc Amy C. Miranda and Professor Rubina Raja, and the main part of the articles in the issue have been published Open Access. Find them on the journal webpage.

Edited journal issue:

Miranda, A. C. & Raja, R. (eds.) (2022). Urban Religion in the Desert: Perspectives from Palmyra, Religion in the Roman Empire 8:2, Tübingen.

Articles in the volume:

  • “Urban Religion in the Desert: The Case of Palmyra, An Anomalocivitas in the Roman Empire”, by Miranda, A. C. & Raja, R.
  • “Palmyra – ‘Anomalocivitas’ or Special City?”, by Sartre, M.
  • “The Sanctuary of Baalshamîn , ‘The Lord of the Heavens’, in Palmyra: A Theatre of Urban Religious Life”, by Michel, P. M.
  • “Urban Religion in Palmyra: Tiny Evidence in a Big City”, by Raja, R.
  • “Roman Religion at Palmyra? Emperor Worship and Cuirassed Gods”, by Andrade, N.