Small gods. Miniature Images of Deities and Material Religion in 1st-century CE Campania

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This paper will investigate how the miniaturisation of images of deities brings them into intimate relationship with the body, mediating communication between divine referent and believer. These artefacts serve individual religious praxis by creating personal, accessible divine images; their diminutive size invites touch and close contact. This paper takes as a case study the miniature images of gods found on the bone beads from the House of Lucius Helvius Severus (I, 13 2) at Pompeii. In the case of the jewellery and hairpins of late Hellenistic Campania, the portability of divine images creates a specific relationship between the body of the believer and the figural representation of the god. This representation is in turn transformed by the autological factors of its production - scale, material, and wearability all altering the recognisable image of the god. These miniature figures not only mediate communication between the individual and the divine, but they also serve to mediate the individual’s relationship with institutional religion as the personal ‘appropriation’ of public religion, shaped by the motivations, beliefs, and needs of individual religious agents.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaterialität und Medialität
Subtitle of host publicationGrundbedingungen einer anderen Ästhetik in der Vormoderne
EditorsJan Stellmann, Daniela Wagner
Place of PublicationBerlin/Boston
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISBN (Electronic)9783110988413, 9783110988659
ISBN (Print)9783110999358
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023

Publication series

Name Andere Ästhetik – Koordinaten
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISSN (Print)2751-2665
ISSN (Electronic)2751-2673


  • Miniature
  • religion
  • Material Religion
  • archaeology
  • Roman religion
  • Pompeii
  • Herculaneum


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