The diversity of Pompeii’s domestic cult activity

Annette Haug and Patric-Alexander Kreuz (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel)


Theories of material religion encourage us to grasp religious acts in their materiality and to examine their physical and sensual implications. This article takes up this challenge, tracing the material and sensual aspects of the domestic cult in Pompeii. Its scope is deliberately broad and inclusive. Most previous research on Pompeian domestic religion focuses on the last phase of the ancient city’s life, from the earthquake of 62 CE to the eruption of 79 CE, and implicitly positions the Lares cult as ‘the’ standard form of domestic cultic activity. In contrast, this chapter adopts a much longer diachronic perspective (from the second century BCE to 79 CE), and moves beyond the Lares cult to address many other elements of domestic material religion. These elements range from painted images of the gods, cultic micro-architectures and their broader settings, ritual objects, and the documented remains of plant and animal offerings. All this evidence testifies to a much broader diversity of material religion within the Pompeian home than has previously been recognised.

Keywords: domestic cult practices, cultic diversity, Lares, visibility, sensuality

Full text: OAJ_ISSUE_10_1_Annette Haug and Patric-Alexander Kreuz_final (pdf 1.6 MB)


Biographical notes 

Annette Haug is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. Her research addresses visual culture studies on the one hand, and questions of urban life and urban design on the other. She studied Classical Archaeology, Art History and Prehistory for a binational PhD (2003) in Heidelberg and Paris-Sorbonne, and has held posts of Assistant Professor in Leipzig (Habilitation 2009) and Heisenberg Fellow, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (2010–12).

Patric-Alexander Kreuz is Professor of Urban Archaeology at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. His research focuses on architecture and urbanism, especially in Roman Italy and the Roman Near East. He studied Classical Archaeology, Ancient History and the Archaeology of the Roman Provinces in Freiburg and Cologne (PhD 2004) and has held posts of Assistant Professor in Bochum (Habilitation) and DAAD-Lecturer at the University of Jordan, Amman (2016–18).