Distant Deities, Central Places

Conference Paper

Session 1: Origins, Functions and Change
Thursday 2023-04-06
15:00 | 18:00

Non-religious communal structures and civic governance at rural sanctuaries

Axel Frejman (Uppsala University), 2023-04-06, Time: 16:50 - 17:20


Rural sanctuaries are as a rule considered in terms of religious functions. However, public buildings not primarily of religious character have been noted archeologically at numerous rural sanctuaries, as well as in the literature and epigraphic record, for example prytaneia and bouleuteria, but also stoai, theaters and stadia. Some of these structures have even been suggested to have originated at sanctuaries, and Olympia has been highlighted as the only site in Archaic and Classical Greece to exhibit both a Prytaneion and a Bouleuterion, features considered characteristic of the polis. These structures could be situated both inside and outside of the temenos. This paper investigates the spatial distribution of and form of structures connected to civic administration at rural sanctuaries, comparing both the situation between sanctuaries, and between cities and sanctuaries. Where are administrative structures located and what can the form and location tell us about the importance and use of these structures? In a second step, the paper considers the implications of administrative structures in the governance of the individual sanctuary. Both supra state collective governance and autonomy can be suggested in certain cases, in addition to the normal polis governed sanctuary. Such types of governance do not easily fit in to the common understanding of rural sanctuaries as controlled by a near-by urban centre.


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