Kimberley C. Patton

Kimberley C. Patton

Professor of the Comparative and Historical Study of Religion
Kimberley Patton


  • AB, Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges
  • AM, PhD, Harvard University


Kimberley C. Patton specializes in ancient Greek religion and archaeology, with research interests in material religion, iconography, sacrifice, and the ecology of Mediterranean sanctuaries. She also teaches and publishes in the history of world religions, particularly ritual studies, animal studies, the mythology of natural elements, sacred art and iconoclasm, the interpretation of dreams, lamentation and weeping, religious laughter, angels and angelology, twins and twinship, childbirth and motherhood, and funerary cult.

Her book Religion of the Gods: Ritual, Paradox, and Reflexivity (Oxford, 2009), won the 2010 American Academy of Religion Book Award for Excellence in Religious Studies in the Analytical-Descriptive category. She is also the author of The Sea Can Wash Away All Evils: Modern Marine Pollution and the Ancient Cathartic Ocean (Columbia, 2006). She is editor of, and contributing author to, four other books: with Benjamin Ray, A Magic Still Dwells: Comparative Religion in the Postmodern Age (University of California Press, 2000); with John Stratton Hawley, Holy Tears: Weeping in the Religious Imagination (Princeton, 2005); with Paul Waldau, A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics (Columbia, 2006), and (as sole editor), the forthcoming Gemini and the Sacred: Twins and Twinship in Religion and Mythology (I.B. Tauris, Ltd., Bloomsbury Academic, 2020).

Patton’s research on the ritual dimensions of maternal mortality in a Neolithic burial at the site of Çatalhöyük in Central Anatolia, Turkey was published as a chapter co-authored with forensic archaeologist Lori Hager in Religion in the Organization and Transformation of a Neolithic Society: Vital Matters, ed. Ian Hodder (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Out of this work has grown a wider monograph in progress, Our Mothers’ Bones: Religion, Childbirth, and the Myth of Unique Identity, forthcoming in 2022 (I.B. Tauris, Ltd., Bloomsbury Academic).

Patton is involved in the ongoing discussion in the academy of the goals and methods of comparative study. In the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, she serves as a member of the Committee on Degrees in Folklore and Mythology, the Standing Committee on Archaeology, and the joint FAS/HDS Standing Committee on the Study of Religion.

Selected publications


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Contact Information

Swartz 503
p: 617.496.3395


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