Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2016-2017
Dina Boero holds a BA in Religion from the University of California: San Diego and a MA and PhD in Classics from the University of Southern California. Her research focuses on saints and their cults in the late antique Near East, integrating literary, codicological, and archaeological sources. She has conducted archival research on Syriac manuscripts held in various European and Middle Eastern collections and has participated in archaeological projects in Syria, Turkey, and Greece. As a Visiting Doctoral Fellow in Classical Studies at the University of Waterloo, Dina collaborated on the project, Cross-cultural Integration in the Greek Poetic Tradition, funded by an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation. In fall of 2017, she will take up the post of Assistant Professor of History at The College of New Jersey.
My project traces the development of Symeon the Stylite the Elder’s (d. 459) cult in the fifth and sixth centuries. Famous for living on top of a column in Syria for forty years, Symeon drew devotees from across the Mediterranean world and the Middle East. Scholars have long addressed the role of saints in late ancient and medieval society. However, the social process through which Symeon's sanctity was constructed has been poorly understood on account of the contemporary division of disciplines. Through integrating archaeological evidence, the Greek literary tradition, and newly discovered Syriac texts and manuscripts, I show how individuals and communities controlled the process of making a saint by orchestrating devotion and creating representations of the saint. This project is the first to focus on Symeon’s cult-makers and the process of cult-making, rather than on Symeon himself. By identifying the various transformations of veneration to Symeon, this project illuminates the workings of a saint’s cult at the earliest stage of its existence and takes a step towards clarifying the origins of Syrian monasticism.