Ancient Religions Research Group

About this Group

We examine the nature of religious belief and practice and the interrelationship between the two. Our research covers a range of ancient cultures from the origins of humanity to the classical Greco-Roman world.

Scope

In addition to drawing on insights from anthropology, evolutionary psychology and the ‘cognitive science of religion’, we also examine the history of scholarship of ancient religions.

Conceptual issues

Our interdisciplinary approach not only sheds light on the ancient cultures in question but also on a range of conceptual issues:

  • The extent to which belief is determined by particular cultural contexts or innate biological factors
  • Contradictions within religious belief
  • The relationship between ‘theological’ trends in ancient religion and ‘online’ religious explanations
  • Change in religion, i.e.
    • the transmission of religious knowledge
    • the evolution of religious institutions
    • the emergence of religious critiques
  • Society and the individual: belief and practice as informed/dictated by social patterns or as (re-)constituted from individual mental representations.