(B2-6) Political-Religious Interdependence in Sacred Spaces. Epigraphic Texts in the Context of Ancient Greek Sanctuaries

In addition to the monumental and architectural remains, not only the literary tradition, but also and above all an opulent wealth of inscriptions permits insight into the functional diversity of ancient Greek sacred sites. Research interest usually gives priority to the dedicatory inscriptions and to the administrative documents that are directly related to the sanctuary (temple inventories, building and invoice inscriptions, etc.). However, sanctuaries also served as a location for epigraphic documents that had a very limited relation to the respective place of worship. This textual evidence alone is the research project’s object of investigation. The focus will not lie on the historical evaluation of individual documents, which has mostly already been done in any case, but on a systematic genre-specific analysis of the practice of erecting. Asking for the reasons for “locating” these – in the main precisely non-religious – texts in sanctuaries will open up access to very specific structures of conditions of politics and religion which are suitable for a far more detailed understanding of the particular dialectics between these two areas in ancient Greece. The projected investigations will focus on the following text genres:

1. Treaties:

When ancient treaties were published, they were usually not only deposited in public record offices but also erected in central sanctuaries of the respective contracting parties and, furthermore, often also in large supraregional sanctuaries at “third” places. In this manner, a special network of relationships between the initiators of the inscription, the shrine as the place of erection and the addressees of the erection, which could be quite different, developed. The repercussions and consequences of these relationships need to be identified with regard to the significance of the regulations recorded in the inscription on the one hand, and with regard to the respective sanctuary as such on the other hand.


2. Release records:

A group of inscriptions in Greek sanctuaries outnumbering the treaties are, by far, inscriptions documenting the release of slaves. Even if the release inscriptions have already been analysed in detail under legal aspects, this exceedingly rich epigraphic inventory of sources has not yet been put to sufficiently productive use as regards the present issue of determining the relationship of religion and politics. The view often taken to date that a distinctive need for publication was the sole reason for the public manifestation of the releases is certainly too narrow. Rather, the specific religious, political and also economic reasons and general conditions in each case will have to be identified in order to ascertain the reasons that gave rise to the fact that, obviously, the manifest documentation of a release in a sanctuary was frequently considered to be an indispensable prerequisite for the legal act that had already been archived in any case. In the same way as in the case of the treaties, the particular network of relationships between the actors, the place of erection and the addressee will also be investigated here.

3. Oracle texts and curse tablets:

These two text genres are distinguished from those mentioned before by their being much more closely and directly connected with the cultic religious sphere. Nevertheless, they lend themselves as an excellent addition in the context of overriding questions regarding the interdependence of politics and religion. This part of the investigation, which is projected to be carried out in close collaboration with the research group Inscriptiones Graecae of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and with the Berlin Pergamon Museum, will be based on an extensive archive of as yet unpublished oracle tablets from the sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona and of a large inventory of Attic curse tablets which will also have to be published anew after having already been refurbished.

Herrschaft und Image. Untersuchung zur Repräsentationspolitik Pyrrhos’ von Epiros (Teilprojekt von Anna-Sophie Haake)

Den Ausgangspunkt des Dissertationsprojekts bildet die grundsätzliche Frage, auf welche Weise in der noch jungen hellenistischen Monarchie des ausgehenden 4. und frühen 3. Jh.s v.Chr. einzelne Herrscher sakrale Räume besetzten und mythisch-religiöse Argumentationsmuster aufgriffen, um ihre Leistungen zu präsentieren, ihre politische Stellung zu legitimieren und sich im Konkurrenzkampf mit anderen Herrschern zu behaupten. Die daran anschließende Untersuchung meiner Arbeit hat exemplarischen Charakter und konzentriert sich auf die Herrschaft des epirotischen Königs Pyrrhos I. von Epiros und seine repräsentativen Aktivitäten in unterschiedlichen sakralen Kontexten. Eine solche Fokussierung erweist sich vor allem in Bezug auf zwei Aspekte als besonders vielversprechend: Auf der einen Seite kann Pyrrhos in vielerlei Hinsicht geradezu als idealtypischer hellenistischer Herrscher gelten, dessen auf Charisma basierende Herrschaft in einem hohen Maße mit seiner militärischen Sieghaftigkeit in Beziehung stand. Auf der anderen Seite erschloss sich Pyrrhos mit der Eroberung des Westens einen für die frühen hellenistischen Monarchen völlig neuen Aktionsraum, was die Komplexität der kommunikativen Strategien aufgrund der Diversität der Adressaten erheblich erhöhte und seine repräsentativen Aktivitäten zu einem besonders ertragreichen Untersuchungsgegenstand macht.

Um ein umfassendes Verständnis für die Funktionsweise, Logik und Effektivität der unterschiedlichen medialen und kommunikativen Strategien und das sich darin manifestierende Zusammenspiel von politischen und sakralen, kultischen und mythischen Aspekten zu gewinnen, greift eine Analyse zu kurz, die sich nur auf das unmittelbare ereignispolitische Umfeld beschränkt. Die Prozesse der medialen Inszenierung lassen sich in ihrer ganzen Tragweite nur fassbar machen, wenn sie in die zeitgenössischen Diskurse und Denkstrukturen eingebunden und in einer regen Wechselwirkung von verschiedensten Fixpunkten der griechischer Repräsentations-, Argumentations- und Erinnerungskultur verortet werden.

Der Zugriff kann entsprechend auch nicht über eine biographische Betrachtung, sondern nur über einzelne Fallstudien erfolgen, die jeweils an einem sehr konkreten Bericht, Quellenstück oder Ereignis ansetzen. Davon ausgehend sollen Kontexte, Implikationen, Hintergründe, Modelle und Zusammenhänge mit der oben dargestellten Ziel erschlossen werden, um so die mediale Funktionalität dieser Ausgangspunkte und das in ihnen zum Tragen kommende Wechselspiel von Politischem und Religiösem sowohl auf räumlicher als auch auf inhaltlicher Ebene in ihrer vollen Breite nachvollziehbar macht.

Investigations into the installation practice of inter-state documents in Greek sanctuaries (subproject of Marie Drauschke)

Within the framework of the entire project, my research focuses on the inter-state documents and records of the Greek world, namely the sympolities, symmachies, border and legal assistance agreements, arbitrations etc. While such agreements in inscribed form were set up both in public spaces and in sacral surroundings, the dissertation project will concentrate on the installation practice in sanctuaries. Both the sanctuaries belonging to each contracting party respectively and the “third installation places”, where both partners set up further joint copies, will be examined.

The aims are as follows: On the one hand, I intend to investigate the multiplicity of intentions behind the placement of the inscribed political acts in a sacral rather than a more public space like the agora, specifically relating to inter-state arrangements, as well as to explore regional differences and possible changes over time. The functions of these installation spaces, which were both of religious importance and places of encounter and exchange, will be analysed with a view to the issue of the interrelations between religion and politics.

On the other hand, and especially regarding the “third places of installation”, the complex network of relationships between the various instances that arranged the installation (poleis, federations, rulers), the chosen sanctuaries and the adressees will be studied.