EXC 2060 B3-40 - Localism and Religion in Ancient Greece

in Process
Funding Source
DFG - Cluster of Excellence
Project Number
EXC 2060/1
  • Description

    Ancient Greek religion is characteristic of a hybrid blending of bounded and connected practices. Localism and Religion in Ancient Greece (B3-40) probes this blend by measuring the gravitational pull of local religious systems and their interplay with regional as well as universal contexts.
    New interest in localism and the local, spurred by debates about cultural connectivity and convergence, provides new insight into the lived experience in ancient Greece. At the same time, there has been an upsurge of scholarly interest in diversifying the notion of Greek religion, between its dichotomous expressions in local and global/universal spheres. LoRAG positions itself at the frontier of both debates: (1) the conceptual study of localism; and (2) the impact the local wields over religious conduct. The overall goal is to advance the understanding of ancient Greek religion by finding a space for divergence, idiosyncrasy, and plurality.
    In its first cycle of investigation, LoRAG explores the local dimension of religious interactions in the Saronic Gulf, a region that presents ideal conditions for the study of the complex mosaic of Greek religion. The Saronic comprises a plethora of cities that were stitched into a connected maritime world of sea shores, islands, and promontories. Human agency in the region was segregated, connected, and entangled at once and on multiple levels - and it played out in a complicated matrix of seasonal time. The Saronic’s central location, at the crossroads of many networks, each one with shifting nodes of influences over time, further invites creative applications of scale.
    The time line under investigation, c. 800 to c. 300 BCE, is defined by the rise of the Greek city-state and the formation of profound challenges to its way of life.

Teilprojekt: Grabsitten im Archaischen und Klassischen Griechenland zwischen lokaler Idiosynkrasie und regionaler Verflechtung: die Saronische Region (Dr. Sophia Nomicos, M.A.)

Mit Grabsitten verbundene Praktiken zählen zu den zentralen Ausdrucksformen von Religion. Hierzu gehören all diejenigen Handlungen, die unmittelbar nach dem Tod, beim Begräbnis selbst sowie im Weiteren beim Gedenken an die Verstorbenen vollzogen werden. In der Forschung wurden die Grabsitten in der griechischen Antike lange Zeit vor allem aus der Perspektive der Stadt Athen nachgezeichnet. Doch insbesondere die jüngere Forschung konnte dank zahlreicher neuer Ausgrabungsergebnisse eine erhebliche Diversität in diesem Bereich feststellen. Trotz dieses Paradigmenwechsels fehlen diachrone Regionalstudien und vergleichende Untersuchungen bisher aber weitestgehend.

Das Ziel des Forschungsvorhabens ist die Rekonstruktion und Analyse lokaler Grabsitten im antiken Griechenland der archaischen und klassischen Zeit am Beispiel der Stadtstaaten am und im Saronischen Golf. Als Untersuchungsparameter werden die Lage der Gräber in Bezug zu den Siedlungen, Bestattungsformen und –rituale, Grabtypen, Grabkennzeichnungen sowie Beigaben herangezogen. Die Golfregion eignet sich für diese Untersuchung in besonderem Maße, weil hier darüber hinaus der Frage nachgegangen werden kann, inwiefern etwaige Gemeinsamkeiten in den Grabsitten durch die humangeographische Sondersituation gegeben war, insbesondere die dichte Verflechtung menschlichen Handelns in einem überschaubaren, eng vernetzten Naturraum. Im Weiteren werden auch Vergleiche mit Poleis jenseits der Golfregion zu ziehen sein.

Subproject: Participation and delineation. Religious rifts in the sacral landscape of the Saronic Gulf (Marian Helm, M.A.)

The Saronic Gulf can be described as a hotspot of religious, cultural, economic and political exchange in Ancient Greece. Its northern and eastern shores were controlled by veritable Mediterranean powers like Athens and Corinth while its center was dominated by the island and polis of Aigina. In contrast, the Argolid on the western side of the Gulf featured a plethora of smaller poleis and religious subdivisions.

Divided into distinct micro-regions through the mountainous terrain of the Akte, this region is especially suited for a study on religious entanglements and disentanglements. Being somewhat isolated due to the difficulties of overland transportation, the local poleis display a clear orientation towards the Gulf, a situation that can be described as insular connectivity since it allowed a choice between participation and delineation. This observation meshes well with recent research that has emphasized the existence of a significant rift in the sacral landscape of the Argolis. While the northern half seems especially dedicated to Hera, the southern areas display a high number of chthonic deities and Demeter sanctuaries.

The research project will examine this fascinating landscape of the southern Argolid in the light of archaeological studies of rural and urban areas and agricultural land. Central Place Theory will be employed to explore how settlement patterns and religious catchment areas conform to the postulated rift in the Argolid and elsewhere in the Saronic, with clusters around Isthmia, Salamis and Megara, Epidauros, and Aigina. The aim is to identify lines of religious alignment and misalignment across the region and to identify the interaction between local worlds in a regional context.