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Data from Dead Minds? Dream and Healing in the Isis / Sarapis Cult During the Graeco-Roman Age

Issue: Vol 1 No. 1 (2014)

Journal: Journal of Cognitive Historiography

Subject Areas: Ancient History Cognitive Studies Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jch.v1i1.52


During the Graeco-Roman Age there were a great many testimonies from sick and physically disabled people who sought healing in the sanctuaries of the Egyptian deities, Isis and Sarapis. The most popular kind of healing which was practised in those sanctuaries was that of incubation (incubatio), during which the adherents – after following certain rules of diet, hygiene and purification – slept in the temple until they received a therapeutic dream or vision from the god(s). The research frame of this paper will be on the one hand the study of specific historical, cultural and social context of the cult of the Egyptian deities, and on the other cognitive structures and abilities. The importance of using the methods of the cognitive sciences to study religiosity in antiquity indicates that these practices are not data coming just from “dead minds” but from human minds generally. They acquire a particular meaning and may encourage us in our effort to propose new research projects. It should not escape us that the student of antiquity acts like a detective while using these methods in examining modes of religious behaviours, which belong to the framework of universals

Author: Panayotis Pachis

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