Conference Announcement: “Protective Mother or Fertile Woman? The Polyvalences of Mother Deities” (Univ. of Graz, 28.-29. 03. 2019)

“Mother goddess, any of a variety of feminine deities and maternal symbols of creativity, birth, fertility, sexual union, nurturing, and the cycle of growth.” [1]

In antiquity, mother deities tend to integrate a multitude of different meanings and values that can hardly be differentiated or even distinguished from each other in their materialization in iconographies, as well as in their conceptualization in literary sources. The specific divine figure gains a status of a fluid and contingent figuration that varies in relation to the social and spatial context.

The aim of the conference is to sharpen the different layers of meaning and symbolism that stand behind the shapes of mother deities as they appear in the archaeological and epigraphic material. Additionally, a focus will be laid on the dynamics and changes in practice and appearance that derive from the fluidity. Our interest is to discuss in how far the veneration practices of deities, such as Cybele/Mater Magna, Fortuna or the Germanic-Celtic Matronae in the Northwest provinces negotiated or blurred these semantic and symbolic boundaries. What new distinctive presentation parameters were created, for instance in cities where religious groups needed to demarcate themselves from other groups in order to achieve particularity and finally to survive?

The main questions to be explored are:

  • differences and similarities in iconography and cult
  • epigraphic evidences on mother deities
  • rural vs. urban sanctuaries (urban religion)

The conference will take place between 28 – 30 March 2019 at the University of Graz and is organized in collaboration between the Institute for Ancient History at the Karl-Franzens-University in Graz together with the FERCAN project (Fontes Epigraphici Religionum Celticarum Antiquarum), and the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies in Erfurt. Our aim is to bring together researchers not only from the disciplines of archaeology, but also from ancient history und linguistics in order to gain diverse perspectives on the topic from different sides.

We intend to encourage a fruitful exchange, this is why presentations of 20 min. will be followed by a 20/30 min. long discussion. The conference languages are English and German.

Please send your abstract of ca. one page (max. 500 words) to


Dr. Asuman Lätzer-Lasar, Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies

Astrid Schmölzer, University of Graz


Thursday, 28. 3. 2019
SZ 01.18



Asuman Lätzer-Lasar and Astrid Schmölzer, organizers


Univ.Prof. Dr. Peter Scherrer, Vice-Rector for Research and Junior Researchers’
Promotion, Head of Department of Archaeology
Univ.Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Spickermann, Head of Department of Classics


Asuman Lätzer-Lasar and Astrid Schmölzer

13:30 Mother godesses: A philological approach Patrizia de Bernardo Stempel (Vitoria-Gasteiz)
14:00 Kulthandlungen im Heiligtum der Magna Mater in Kempraten (RapperswilJona, Schweiz) Pirmin Koch (München)

14:30 Coffee break

14:45 The cult of the Suleviae in the Western Empire Cristina Girardi (München)
15:15 Die Matronenkulte in Niedergermanien als religionshistorisches Phänomen
Wolfgang Spickermann (Graz)
15:45 Zu den Anfängen des Matronenkults in der römischen Provinz Niedergermanien. Das Heiligtum der Aufanischen Matronen in Nettersheim
Salvatore Ortisi (München)

16:15 Coffee break

16:30 Die Nutrices im Südosten Noricums. Die Muttergöttinnen vom Frauenberg
bei Leibnitz Bernhard Schrettle (Graz)
17:00 From nurturing wine to nurturing ‘Wealth’. The evolution of Eirene in 5th and
4th century Athens Isabell Wagener (Graz/Erfurt)

18:30 Keynote: Mater Matuta and her ‘sisters’: Re-examining mother deities
and the votive phenomenon (HS 01.15)
Maureen Carroll (Sheffield)

20:00 Conference Dinner

Friday, 29. 3. 2019

HS 15.14

10:00 Demeter and Kore: A re-lecture of the Eleusinian Myth through the lens of
Maternal Theory Giulia Pedrucci (Erfurt)
10:30 Einige weniger bekannte weibliche Gottheiten der Germania Inferior
Werner Petermandl (Graz)

11:00 Coffee break

11:15 Neue archäologische Untersuchungen zu den Matronen der Germania
Inferior. Eine erste Auswertung des Dissertationsprojektes Astrid Schmölzer (Graz)
11:45 Beyond mother goddesses and women’s goddesses: Conceptualizing
divine femininity in ancient Italy Daniele Miano (Erfurt/Sheffield)

12:15 Lunch break

14:00 Feminine deities in the sanctuary of the Roman settlement of Aquae Iasae
Dora Kušan Špalj (Zagreb)
14:30 Matres und Matronae. Eine epigraphische Gegenüberstellung
Manfred Hainzmann (Graz)

15:00 Coffee break

15:45 Final discussion

[1] see, (22/10/2018). 

Cite this blog post
urbrel (2019, March 12). Conference Announcement: “Protective Mother or Fertile Woman? The Polyvalences of Mother Deities” (Univ. of Graz, 28.-29. 03. 2019). Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from

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