The Development of Roman Imperial Cults in Asia Minor. A Community-Based Approach

Dies van der Linde

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Why did the development of Roman imperial cults progress in distinct ways, where and when? During the Julio-Claudian period, Roman imperial cults were introduced and accommodated in many poleis of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Yet, this did not occur everywhere at the same time, in the same pace, in the same way, nor did it have the same consequences. Imperial cults could, for instance, become the dominant religious institution in an urban community, they could disappear, they could be remodelled after some time, or they could be integrated into, or fused with, other cults. Acknowledging this diversity, this research intends to offer explanations for the multiple pathways along which imperial cults could develop. Based on archaeological material and epigraphic texts from Julio-Claudian Ephesos and Miletos, a comparative-historical study traces the developments of imperial cults and looks for the causes of distinct developmental trajectories in various forms of human and institutional interaction in specific spatial and historical conditions. It accounts for timing of introduction, moments of crisis, inter-city rivalry, movements and networks of people, elite competition, and interactions between various social groups as well as religious institutions. In so doing, this study distinguishes itself from most studies of Roman imperial cults which have approached it primarily as part of cultural and symbolic systems or as the result of interactions between imperial authorities and regional as well as local elites. It also challenges common approaches to social and cultural change in Roman society like globalisation and Romanisation, which are unable to describe or explain such divergent developmental trajectories. Instead, it proposes and explores a community-based approach as an alternative methodological framework for studying religious and socio-political change in the Roman Empire.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Alston, Richard, Supervisor
Award date1 Jul 2022
Publication statusUnpublished - 2022


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • Royal Holloway
  • Roman imperial cult
  • Asia Minor
  • Dies van der Linde
  • Ephesos
  • Miletos

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