Cult and Crisis. The Sacred Landscape of Attica and its Correlation to Political Topography
In my current project, I focus on the sacred landscape of Hellenistic Attica. From the late 4th century BCE on, Athens was no longer a sovereign city-state, but had become subject to political capture of the Hellenistic kings. Amongst others, military garrisons occupied parts of the Athenian countryside in order to gain control over Athens. The occupied areas were situated on areas of strategic relevance, such as harbours or along mayor transport links; some of them became prohibited areas, i.e. that they were completely detached from the city-states organisational structure. Thus, the blockade had not only impact on the political life, but also on economic, social, cultural aspects.
During my research stay at the MWK, I will take a closer look on the main harbour of ancient Athens, the Piraeus and the situated cults. The peninsula with several natural bays provides the perfect prerequisites for harbour installations. After its destruction during the Persian Wars, the related settlement is known for being constructed following the principles of Hippodamos, meaning the building of an orthogonal street system in order to facilitate movement and the construction of a central agora. These measures emphasized the urban character of the harbour. With the beginning of the Macedonian occupation in 322 BCE, the Piraeus was cut off from the polis in a physical way, since the harbour was blocked for inhabitants of the city. The economic outcome was the shortfall of supplies of the city, which now had to rely on other much smaller harbours and on grain donations from foreign benefactors. Politically, the harbour became autonomous and the administrative structures of the polis, since an independent assembly was established in order to govern this area. Given the severing of multiple networks, which had been woven over centuries, it is not surprising that the attestations for ritual practice at the sanctuaries situated in the Piraeus also decrease significantly. Interestingly, with the withdrawal of the Macedonian troops in 228 BCE, the Piraeus did not immediately go back to the prior state. The period of almost 100 years of separation had made some aspects of the role of the Classical Piraeus in the polis structure superfluous. In order to understand the complex shifts of religious change during this period, all available archaeological and textual data will be evaluated by using a GIS-based data-analysis tool.
Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien Universität Erfurt Postfach 90 02 21 99105 Erfurt