Sacrality and the Greek Polis

RMA Dissertations

Persephone’s Passports

Recontextualizing the Italian Gold Tablets

Marie Hélène van de Ven

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Throughout the last few centuries, gold tablets that bear eschatological inscriptions to aid the deceased in reaching a blissful afterlife have confounded generations of scholars. Heavily influenced by top down approaches that categorise these tablets as belonging to an Orphic cult or Orphic religious practices, concepts that are difficult to define an sich. The evidence that connects them to their local and contemporary contexts has been somewhat neglected in considerations of the meaning and origin of these tablets. In order to consider that oversight, this thesis will add a bottom up approach to the difficult debate on the gold tablets. This approach starts with an analysis of the tablets themselves and will then recontextualise them in their religious and cultural contexts. That way, new conclusions on their emergence can be made that will further aid our understanding of these mystifying artefacts.

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