“The Greek Hecatomb: Realities, Logistics and Landscape” is the title of the lecture to be given by Sandrine Huber (Université de Lorraine, French and Swiss Schools at Athens), on Monday, March 3oth 2015, at 15:00, at the Swedish Institute at Athens (Mitseon 9, Akropolis metro station), in the framework of the Athens Greek Religion Seminar.
“To trace the Hecatomb in ancient Greek sacrificial practices is difficult,” explains S. Huber in the abstract of her paper. “The three documentary sources usually regarded as the most reliable hardly help. Field archaeology has yielded very rare remains demonstrating the simultaneous killing of hundreds of cattle, zooarchaeology none at all and epigraphy preserves only few mentions of the Hecatomb.
“The landscape of the Greek Hecatombs is a religious and civic landscape, in some cases of Panhellenic importance. This landscape, i.e., one involving numerous and simultaneous sacrificial animals, is also plural and multisensory: it is – since all the senses enter the construction of the landscape – a soundscape, an olfactive landscape and finally a gustative landscape.
“The study of mass immolations in the ancient Greek world invites us to revisit not only the fundamental questions of the modalities and the instrumentum of the Greek blood sacrifice, but also, and especially, the spatial, temporal and sensory influence of these large-scale rites.
“In this paper, Delphi provides an example illustrating the problem of topographic influence on ceremonies at a site clearly unfavourable for large-scale slaughter, Delos, an example of insularity. Furthermore, while we traditionally tend to lock the religion into sanctuaries, the mass sacrifices, by the sheer quantity of meat that they produce, will force us to go out of the sanctuaries proper in order to examine questions of economy and food supply across the city and its territory.”