In the web of cultural processes of late antiquity ablution rites and initiation rites were performed in different forms and in different contexts. Such rites existed in Early Judaism and Greco-Roman cults and were also applied in early Christianity under the label “baptism”, however, not as one fixed rite uniformly performed and interpreted. Baptismal rites developed diversely corresponding to the diversity among Christian groups of which some later came to be perceived as heretical.
Remains of art, architecture and texts from these contexts were discussed in two conferences gathering scholars who are excellent within their respective fields: text studies, studies of rites, archaeology, architecture, history of art, and cultural anthropology. These different fields of research have in recent years generated new knowledge that is relevant for the discussion of ablution and initiation rites and their function in late antiquity. At the same time interests of research have altered in favour of a growing cooperation across discipline borders.
The present volumes are the outcome of two conferences in Rome 2008 and at Metochi (Lesbos) 2009.

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