The cult of Silvanus: rethinking provincial identities in Roman Dalmatia

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Earlier scholarship saw the worship of Silvanus in Dalmatia from two different perspectives. Firstly, as a continuance of the pre-Roman indigenous cult which became »recognized« as the italic deity Silvanus through the interpretatio Romana, and secondly, as a product of indigenous assimilation in Roman culture. This article reconsiders these opinions from a different perspective, making the point that we deal here with an entirely new cultural practice, rather than the survival of the pre-Roman traditions, or with the assimilation of the indigenous population into the Roman identity. It is argued that the worship of Silvanus was used as an interface for communication and display of identity of different provincial sub-cultural groups in the early imperial times. It was a new, inventive and multifaceted religious practice, which incorporated existing local traditions and visual aesthetics with global symbolics of Silvanus, bringing together distinct societies and including Dalmatian communities into the »global« world of Roman Empire.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-279
Number of pages19
JournalVjesnik arheološkog muzeja u Zagrebu
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Silvanus
  • Dalmatia
  • roman religion
  • Romanization
  • culture contact
  • identity


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