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Ritual Dining, Drinking, and Dedication at Stymphalos

A Case Study in the Influence of “Popular” Culture on Religion

By Peter Stone

[Snip] Abstract: This study examines ritual dining, drinking and dedication at 2nd century B.C. Stymphalos as it appears through the lens of surviving physical evidence. This evidence is primarily ceramic, the vessels used for preparing and consuming meals and drinking. The material under discussion was found within a ritual dining building (Building A) in the sanctuary of Athena on the acropolis of ancient Stymphalos.

I have two major aims in considering this evidence. The first is to examine the ceramic evidence for ritual dining in two separate rooms of Building A in order to determine the specific functions of the rooms. This analysis will provide evidence that the activities in the building were divided between preparation and/or consumption of meals in the south room of the building and drinking and the storage of dedicated drinking vessels and lamps in the north room. My second aim is to explore “ritual” dining at Stymphalos as an example of an Ancient Greek activity that was “religious” but had a very important “social” element. I consider the ceramic objects found within Building A, and the activities they provide evidence for, against the backdrop of Greek cultural practices in general. I also make focused comparisons with religious practices documented in other religions, ancient and modern, to show that religious practice is often influenced by culturally embedded social realities.

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