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For the past five years (2012-2017), the Max Weber Center of Erfurt University has hosted a project on 'Lived Ancient Religion: Questioning "cults" and "polis religion"', financed by the European Research Council and embedded in the research group on 'Religious individualisation in historical perspective' (see Fuchs and Rüpke. [2015. "Religious Individualisation in Historical Perspective." Religion 45 (3): 323-329. doi:10.1080/0048721X.2015.1041795]). It was designed to supplement existing accounts of the religious history of the Mediterranean area at the time of the long Roman Empire, accounts traditionally centred upon public or civic institutions. The new model focuses on the interaction of individuals with a variety of religious specialists and traditions, taking the form of material culture, spaces and text. It emphasises religious experience, embodiment and 'culture in interaction'. On the basis of research into the history of religion of the Roman Empire, this co-authored article sets out to offer new tools for research into religion by formulating three major perspectives, namely religious agency, instantiated religion and narrated religion. We have tried to illustrate their potential value by means of 13 short case studies deriving from different geographical areas of the central and eastern Mediterranean area, and almost all relating to the period 150 BCE to 300 CE. These short descriptions are summarising research pursued by the members of the team of authors, published or to be published in extended form elsewhere, as indicated by the references.
lived religion; religious agency; narrativity; material religion; ancient mediterranean; religion in the making