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Rites of Passage of the Life Cycle in Antiquity

Dates: Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21, 2007
Time: 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. on Friday with reception to follow until 7:00 p.m., 8:30 a.m.–5:45 p.m. on Saturday
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium
Admission: Free; reservations required. Call (310) 440-7300 or use the "Make Reservation" button below.

As a contribution to the Getty Research Institute's 2006–2007 research theme, "Religion and Ritual," this symposium aims at analyzing the concept, performance, and representation of rites of passage in antiquity.

First conceptualized in the early 20th century by Arnold van Gennep, rites accompanying transitions in the life cycle—but also in space or seasons—seem to display similar schemes: first the "rite of separation," then the intermediate "liminal rite," and, finally, the "rite of aggregation" into the new stage (of life, season, space, etc.).

This symposium will examine the concept as applied to the rites of the life cycle (birth, maturity, the wedding, death) as well as literary constructs, acculturation and analogy, and the state of the discipline.

Papers will explore the concept of rites of passage almost a century after its articulation; the relation between van Gennep's scheme and actual performances; power structures concealed or revealed by rites of passage; visual representations of the rites, important symbols employed in them, and preserved archaeological evidence; and the ways in which Greeks and Romans and members of neighboring cultures looked at the main transitions in their lives.

Download the most current symposium schedule (PDF, 40KB)—updated February 8, 2007.

For further information or to ask questions about this symposium, please e-mail

Wine Cup with a Boy Holding a Lyre / Douris and Python

How to Get Here
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. Parking is $8 per car. See Hours, Directions, Parking for directions and parking information.