William Van Andringa

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2011/2012
discipline History
Professor of Ancient History at the University of Lille 3

Research project

When Gods Lived with Men: Religious life in Roman Pompeii


Based on several research investigations carried out at Pompeii, my research project aims to reveal the role of the gods in their daily relations with men. The undertaking has already begun in the framework of a synthesis on religious life in the Vesuvian cities (Van Andringa, BEFARn° 337, 2009).


Apart from this methodological study on the way to approach gods and cult places in Antiquity, numerous excavations and surveys have added to our knowledge of religious activity and their place in the daily life of the city. The excavations carried out in one of the necropolis of the city between 2003 and 2007 made possible a thorough investigation of the tombs as the site of a funerary cult, which it is now possible to reconstitute in detail. In the period from 2008 to 2011, we were able to excavate and study three Pompeian cult places whose history has now been revealed: the urban sanctuary of Fortuna Augusta near the Forum, that of Bacchus, situated in the surrounding countryside, and a pit, where the remains of a house destroyed by a thunderbolt (“fulgur conditum”) had been ritually buried. At the same time, surveys have been carried out in various areas of the ancient city providing us with abundant archaeological evidence (chapels, niches, paintings, cult equipment), again in its topographical context (house, workshop, shop, street, etc.)


What unites these different projects is that they are carried out in collaboration with Finnish researchers from various institutions (Otaniemi School of Architecture, Helsinki and Oulu Universities), from which follows a senior fellowship under the College for Advanced Studies at Helsinki. One year working with the Finnish colleagues helps me to study the results gathered from the different excavations and surveys carried out at Pompeii since 2003 and in the various corpora which feature Vesuvian paintings and cult places.


Taking the set objectives into account, three research approaches are given priority:

- The temple of Fortuna Augusta, built in the Augustan period on the initiative of a member of the local elite at the site of house belonging to him, gives us the opportunity to study in detail the process of founding a public cult in a Roman city.

- The suburban temple of Bacchus, the site of a public cult dedicated to the god of wine, gives us information on the acquisition of a public cult place by a Bacchic society, and thus on the evolution of activities in a sanctuary.

- The fulgur conditumin the House of Four Styles allows us to reconstruct in detail, and for the first time, the procedure of setting up a very particular religious site, consecrated to the thunderbolt that was sent by Jupiter to a house at Pompeii.


At the same time, reconstructions of the social organization of urban districts before the eruption of 79 AD will be put forward, which will be based on the Finnish research on religious representations in private houses (insula IX : University of Helsinki research project at Pompeii, EPUH).


I will advance the research collaboration with various Finnish colleagues and to propose the first results on the organization of the sacred in Pompeii within the framework of publications, of seminars and of conferences. The ultimate objective of the fellowship is the creation of an international group of research intended to work on Pompeii, the central site for the study of Roman society.



William Van Andringa is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Lille 3. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Toulouse Le Mirail and a Habilitation from the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne.

Selected publications


Quotidien des dieux et des hommes : la vie religieuse dans les cités du Vésuve à l’époque romaine, BEFAR 337, Rome, 2009.


'I riti e la morte a Pompei: nuove ricerche archeologiche nella necropoli di Porta Nocera', et ali, in M.-P. Guidobaldi, P.G. Guzzo (eds), Nuove ricerche archeologiche nell’area vesuviana (scavi 2003-2006), Convegno Internazionale organizzato dalla Soprintendenza archeologica di Pompei, Rome, 2008, pp. 377-388. 


'Religion and the integration of cities in the Empire in the second century AD: the creation of a common religious language', in J. Rüpke (ed.), A Companion to Roman Religion, Blackwell, Oxford, 2007, pp. 83-95. 


'Sacrifices, marché de la viande et pratiques alimentaires dans le monde romain', Food and History, vol. 5, no. 1, Brepols, 2007. 


La religion en Gaule romaine. Piété et politique (ier-iiie siècle ap. J.-C.), Errance, Paris, 2002.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline Art History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
discipline Philosophy