Distant Deities, Central Places

Conference Paper

Session 2: Center and Periphery: Defining Extra-urbanity
Friday 2023-04-07
09:00 | 12:00

Urban place-making at regional sanctuaries in the Graeco-Roman world

Christina Williamson (University of Groningen), 2023-04-07, Time: 11:20 - 12:00


Sacred landscapes were affected by the wave of urban foundations, especially in the Hellenistic era. Deities with a regional attraction were yoked to the new political body to become its new face, even though their sanctuaries were at a distance from the urban nucleus. But labelling such sanctuaries as extra-urban belies their role as hyperurban centers of gravity, places that came to represent the deepest values and aspirations of their cities. Which strategies and media were connected in their transformations, and by whom? In this paper I sketch three different case studies across time and space that show a pattern of ritual practices: Mount Lykaion and Megalopolis, Mên Askaenos and Antioch, and the Asklepieion and Pergamon. I then discuss the processes of assimilation through the lens of urban place-making, which allows us to better identify the different means and levels of agencies involved in the transitioning of these sacred centres into hyperurban shrines.


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