Waste Matters: Life Cycle and Agency of Pottery Employed in Greco-Roman Sacred Spaces
Accumulations of pot shards, many of them from common vessels and deposited below surface, are ubiquitous phenomena in Greco-Roman sacred places. The modern denomination of this pottery in fills, terraces, or pits, as 'sacred waste' falls short, since it implies its use- and meaninglessness after deposition. The first part of the article sets out to discuss the life cycle, transformation and potential agency of these ceramic remains in order to reveal their continuous impact on establishing the places as sacred places through their embeddedness in religious practices. Drawing on examples from Archaic to Roman Imperial times I explore in the second part the production, consumption and deposition of the pottery objects as elements in the chain of interactions with human agents. I argue that very mundane, even invisible, pieces of pottery, due to deposition, establish memories and contribute to the religious significance of the places over generations.