HAS Project

H.A.S. Project

Homo Ars Sacrum

"Material culture and religion"



Since the dawn of civilization, the symbiotic connection between objects and religious beliefs has been a fundamental element of humanity. The most ancient known temples of human kind, brought to light by archaeologists at the Turkish site of Gobekli Tepe (datable to about 12,000 years ago), are believed to represent the first evidence of this inseparable entanglement of the three elements (humans, art and divine), which from that moment onward shapes the relationship of human beings with the divine. Thus, religion cannot be imagined only through an inner analysis of human spirituality; rather, it is the product of a symbiotic relationship between human beings and objects that become the media for the ideal ascent to the supernatural world.

This inseparable relationship continues today to shape the relationship between religious devotees and the divine world. The destruction of religious icons prior to the advent of Islam by the DAESH terrorists further confirms this indispensable link and the need for us to understand the reasons behind this inseparable connection, which is clearly evident in popular religious traditions (such as in the case of the feast of St. Agatha in Catania) as well as in contemporary artistic productions (think of the television series 'The Young Pope' or the works of artists such as Maurizio Cattelan).

It is for this reason that the primary objective of our society is to proceed to the identification of analytical tools that involve not only the analysis of religious phenomena, but also their transformation through artistic phenomena that enter into symbiosis with religious popular traditions.

The project HAS (Homo Ars Sacrum) organized by Nicola Laneri (Director of the School of Religious Studies, CAMNES, Florence, and Professor of Near Eastern archaeology at the University of Catania) thus becomes a tool to further investigate the concept of material religion, but also to understand the 'ambivalence of the sacred' (as initially noted by the father of modern sociology, Emile Durkheim, and more recently by the Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben), which intermingles sacred elements with secular aspects in the affirmation of the divine dimension by society. The project is based on a series of interviews with internationally recognized scholars interested in the subject and on a final documentary dedicated to understand the importance of material culture in constructing spirituality among both ancient and contemporaneous societies.

Chapter 1

Interview with Ian Hodder

(Director of the Catalhoyuk Project and Dunlieve Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University)


Chapter 2

Interview with Paolo Matthiae

(He is a member of various institutions, including the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Balzan Foundation, the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres and the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut; he is also a member of the founding committee of the International Congress on the Archeology of the Ancient Near East and has received an honorary degree from the Autonomous University of Madrid).


Chapter 3

Interview with Alfredo Pirri