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New funding to expand the study of ancient religions

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A centre which researches ancient religions based at the OU’s Department of Classical Studies has received new funding.

The Baron Thyssen Centre for the Study of Ancient Material Religion has received a donation of just over £248,000 from The Augustus Foundation to expand its research and outreach work.

Led by Centre Director, Dr Jessica Hughes, it was founded in 2018 to promote research into the material, visual and other sensory aspects of Greek, Etruscan and Roman religions, and to bring this research into dialogue with work on material religion in later periods.

The new funding will run over a three-year period and support new appointments including Visiting Fellows who will deliver lectures and workshops and bring with them new perspectives on ancient material religion. The funding will also allow for the continuation of the highly successful seminar series and the creation of more digital resources and will promote a culture in which the high-quality research for which the Centre is now renowned can continue to flourish.  There will be an outreach project too, with Centre staff overseeing the production of materials on ancient festivals to support the study of religious studies and classical subjects in schools.

James Robson, Professor of Classical Studies at the OU said:

“We are delighted that the Augustus Foundation has chosen to continue its support of the Centre with this generous donation. Since its foundation in 2018, the Centre has quickly established itself as an internationally recognized hub of activity in the exciting and innovative area of ancient material religion, which is dedicated to exploring the sacred objects, bodies and rituals of religion in the Greek, Roman and Etruscan worlds. 

“This new gift will allow the Centre not only to continue but also to grow its research activities by engaging a new, full-time post-doctoral researcher to expand the cultural and historical range of its research and by bringing internationally renowned Visiting Fellows to deliver lectures and workshops. Excitingly, too, the gift will sponsor the development of educational materials aimed at state school students to support the study of ancient festivals and increase interest in this fascinating and highly accessible area of academic study in which the OU has world-leading expertise.”

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