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"Are You There Gods?" Offerings and Communication Between Worlds in Protohistoric France

Author(s): Katherine Erdman

Year: 2017

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Ritual offerings are inherently communicative; they are created or selected for the meanings they convey to the giver, other viewers, and the intended recipient(s). With this concept in mind, objects deposited in the Source of the Douix, a freshwater spring in eastern France, were recently examined to understand how people use offerings for communication in ritual practices. During exploration of the spring’s subterranean karst system, cave divers observed human-made objects in the water. Through the collaborative effort of several local agencies in the mid-1990s, the spring water was diverted, the area explored, and artifacts dating from over two thousand years recovered. This paper presents the results of multiple levels of statistical and spatial analyses focused on the diverse objects from the Iron Age and Gallo-Roman periods. These results suggest the objects were given as offerings to a god or supernatural entity perceived to inhabit the spring, and provide insights as to why objects were selected to become offerings. The most significant conclusion reveals how people used offerings to communicate with their gods during rituals at the spring, but also, a more universal model for interpreting offerings from other geographic and temporal contexts.

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"Are You There Gods?" Offerings and Communication Between Worlds in Protohistoric France. Katherine Erdman. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429439)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15105

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America