A lecture by Dr Amelia Brown (University of Queensland), organised by The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens.
The ancient Greeks were never politically unified before the rise of Rome, yet they succeeded in developing and maintaining a common culture all around the Mediterranean coasts ‘like frogs around a pond’ (Plato Phaedo 109b). Modern scholars struggle to explain how the ancient Greeks could have shared such strong bonds of religion, language and identity, despite a homeland of separate city-states, and large-scale migration and intermarriage with other ancient peoples around the Mediterranean sea. This lecture looks to the everyday practices of archaic and classical Greek maritime religion for an answer, focusing on the widespread cults of seafaring saviour gods and the rituals practiced at harbors and aboard ships for safe arrival ashore. I argue that the religious system of sailors and travellers helped the ancient Greeks develop and maintain their common culture all around the Mediterranean sea. Cults of seafaring gods like Aphrodite, Apollo, Hera, Poseidon and the Dioscuri were carried from port to port around ancient Greece, to the Greek colonies, and into foreign cities, yet this maritime religion and carriage of cults ‘on the winedark sea’ is not well understood today. The sources are very widely scattered, from ancient testimonia for seafaring rituals of embarkation, accurate navigation and safe arrival on shore, to the archaeological remains of shipwrecks, harbourside sanctuaries and votive offerings. Bringing this evidence back together, however, reveals a durable yet flexible network of travelling rituals and beliefs which bound the ancient Greeks together in unexpected and close-knit ways, even across great distances and without political bonds.
About the lecturer
Dr Amelia Brown is Senior Lecturer in Greek History and Language in the Classics and Ancient History discipline of the School of Historical & Philosophical Inquiry, at the University of Queensland, Australia. She currently holds a Discovery Early Career Research Award from the ARC to research the impact of sailors and travellers on the development of ancient Greek religion and identity. Before coming to UQ in 2010, she was Hannah Seeger Davis Fellow in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University. In 2008 she received her PhD in Ancient History & Mediterranean Archaeology from the University of California at Berkeley, with a dissertation on the history of Corinth in Late Antiquity. Her current research focuses on Late Antiquity, Greek religion and Mediterranean maritime history, particularly in Roman Corinth, Thessalonike and Malta. She has excavated at Halasarna (Kos), Polis (Cyprus), Ancient Messene and Corinth, and is currently completing books on Corinthian history and Mediterranean Maritime Religion.
The lecture will be followed by light refreshments.
This is a free event. For catering purposes, we ask you to register.
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