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The Desert Origins of God

Experience and Materiality of Desert Cult in the Southern Levant and Northern Arabia

This research project aims to study the experience, material culture, and social background of the cultic practices of the peoples that lived in the southern arid margins of the Levant and northern Arabia and their interactions with the religions that penetrated from the cultivated lands in pre-Classical and Classical Antiquity. It will critically compare the religious worlds that developed, were introduced, and merged in the arid interfaces of the southern Levant and the Arabian Peninsula, adopting an interdisciplinary approach, using historical, archaeological, and epigraphic data. Efforts will be focused on a few historical cases, which will contribute in a unique way to big historical questions of the origins of key Near Eastern religions and to the much wider debate of the role played by trade and cultural interconnections in the diffusion of religious ideas in preindustrial societies.