Achim Lichtenberger

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2013/2014
discipline Archaeology
Professor of Classical Archaeology Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Research project

Pagan cults in Israel in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. An archaeological perspective


My research at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem focuses on pagan cults in Judaea in the Roman period from an archaeological perspective. Judaea underwent dramatic developments and disruptions in the first centuries CE and I am asking about the religious identities in this period. The main material I am working with sitems from a terracotta workshop in Beit Nattif, a village in Southern Judaea which produced very specific figurines: naked goddesses, horse-rider figurines and further animals, mainly doves. Although they stem from the Graeco-Roman period (around 300 CE), they are little influenced by Graeco-Roman stylistic and formal features. Such terracottas are evidence for private religion in households and graves and I am investigating the target groups of such objects. This has special relevance, since there is evidence that at least some of the objects from the workshop were produced for Jews. The research project contributes to the discussion of religious identities in the Roman and late-Roman periods and underlines that such identities often were quite ambiguous and a simple and exclusive designation of them as "Jewish", "pagan" or "Christian" does not describe ancient habits and identity constructions sufficiently.



Achim Lichtenberger is Professor of Classical Archaeology in the Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and he is also director of the Center for Mediterranean Studies at Bochum University. He holds a Dr. phil. in Classical Archaeology from the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen and a Habilitation from the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.


His research interests are Hellenistic and Roman Near East, Roman Imperial Art, Hellenistic Royalty and Cities, Religion in the Graeco-Roman World and Numismatics. 


Selected publications


Das Diadem der hellenistischen Herrscher. Übernahme, Transformation oder Neuschöpfung eines Herrschaftszeichens?, with K. Martin, H.-H. Nieswandt & D. Salzmann (eds), Euros 1, Bonn, 2012.


SEVERUS PIUS AUGUSTUS. Studien zur sakralen Repräsentation und Rezeption der Herrschaft des Septimius Severus und seiner Familie (193 – 211 n. Chr.), Impact of Empire, 14, Leiden – Boston, 2011.


‘Bilderverbot oder Bildervermeidung? Figürliche Darstellungen im herodianischen Judäa’, in L.-M. Günther (ed.), Herodes und Jerusalem, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 2009, pp. 71-97.


‘Artemis and Zeus Olympios in Roman Gerasa and Seleucid Religious Policy’, in T. Kaizer (ed.), The Variety of Local Religious Life in the Near East in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods, RGRW 164, Leiden, 2008, pp. 133-153.


‘The City of Jerusalem in the Herodian Period’, in Z. Kafafi and R. Schick (eds), Jerusalem

Before Islam, BAR Int. Ser. 1699, Oxford, 2007, pp. 118-133.


Kulte und Kultur der Dekapolis. Untersuchungen zu numismatischen, archäologischen

und epigraphischen Zeugnissen, Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 29, Wiesbaden, 2003.


Die Baupolitik Herodes des Großen, Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 26,

Wiesbaden, 1999.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Israel Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS)
discipline Religious Studies
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EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
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senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
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discipline History