chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

ByEric Nelson, Jonathan Wright

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts covered in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers the idea of layering both in terms of the physicality of the sacred – that is the bricks and mortar of holy sites or the ritual and ceremonial appropriation of streets and squares – and its place in the memory and the imagination of residents. Edward Gibbon's famous recollection of the moment that he first conceived of writing The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire serves as a reminder that historians have long been inspired by remnants of the past incorporated into the lived landscapes of their day. The book also focuses on the processes of creating new or radically adjusted devotional landscapes and more on the ways in which historical layers, both material and figurative, were used to sustain, consolidate and develop a dominant and longstanding faith.