The Cave of Laughlessness, Sensory Deprivation, and Cognitive Depletion at Eleusis

Research output: Other contribution


This article explores the intersection of sensory perception, emotional experience, and ritual practice within
the ancient Eleusinian Mysteries, specifically focusing on the ‘Cave of Laughlessness’. The author offers a unique perspective on sensory exaggeration, highlighting the heightened awareness of sensory input. The study delves into the experiential aspects of the Mysteries, considering the cognitive and emotional states induced by the rituals. By investigating the sensory manipulation, emotional engagement, and cognitive depletion experienced by initiands (those candidates for initiation), the article sheds light on the complex interplay of sensory experiences and religious significance. The discussion emphasizes the role of the Cave of Laughlessness as a liminal space crucial in the initiatory journey. It examines the sensory and emotional impact it had on ancient worshippers. Through a multidisciplinary approach encompassing archaeology, neurology, and history, this article contributes to a deeper understanding of the sensory dimensions of religious practices in antiquity, offering insights into the ancient mystical experience and its enduring emotional resonance.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies
Place of PublicationOxford
ISBN (Print)0076-0730
ISBN (Electronic)2041-5370
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


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