Although the Generative Historiography of Religion project, funded by the Grant Agency of Masaryk University, officially ended in December 2017, the specific interdisciplinary know-how of the GEHIR team will not be forgotten. Some members of the GEHIR project received funding from the Czech Science Foundation for a three-year project with the title: „Religions on the Ancient Mediterranean Networks: The Role of Primary and Secondary Centers in the Spread of Religious Innovations”.
The GEHIR project aimed to enrich the research into several religious domains of the ancient Mediterranean - the cult of Isis and Sarapis, early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism and Mithraism - as well as provide the opportunity to explore formalized modeling approaches in historiography and the study of religions in general. The project succeeded in this endeavor; however, the possibilities of the formalized methods allow us to formulate new and more specific questions based on our previous research.
The new project aims to apply methods such as geospatial modeling, mathematical modeling and network science to (a) identify places and regions which were crucial for the spread of religious innovations in the ancient Mediterranean and (b) detect processes and factors which played a relevant role in promoting the significance of ancient settlements as primary or secondary centers in the spreading dynamics of new religions. We intend to solve these research problems by conducting three case studies, each of which will focus on a different religious tradition, as was the case in GEHIR. The selected traditions are the cult of Isis and Sarapis, Mithraism, and early Christianity. The rationale behind this choice is that all three traditions spread successfully outside the places of their origins and eventually gained respect and popularity across the ancient Mediterranean. From the chronological point of view, these traditions will be analyzed in their formative phases.
The interdisciplinary character of the GEHIR team finds continuity in the new project as well. Researchers from the Department for the Study of Religions at Masaryk University will be responsible for the research in the three case studies based on their area of expertise. Aleš Chalupa, director of the GEHIR project, is an expert on Graeco-Roman religions, especially the Roman cult of Mithras. Dalibor Papoušek focuses on the question of spatial dissemination of early Christianity. Tomáš Glomb is a Ph.D. candidate interested in Hellenistic religions in Egypt. Since the project aims to analyze the spatial dissemination of religious innovations in the ancient Mediterranean, geographical expertise is necessary. Adam Mertel from the Department of Geography is a specialist in spatiotemporal data exploration, geovisualization, and web GIS. He will be responsible for the development and parameterizing of the network and geographical analyses. Another member of the Department of Geography, Zdeněk Stachoň, will help with historical data spatial analysis as an external advisor. Mathematical modeling and statistical analysis in the later stages of the project will be a domain of Professor Zdeněk Pospíšil from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He has expertise in studying processes of diffusion on networks.