Distant Deities, Central Places

Conference Paper

Session 4: Scalar Dynamics: Interactions and Identity
Saturday 2023-04-08
09:00 | 12:10

Negotiating sacred space: perceptions of Thessalian Extra-urban sanctuaries

Adam Wiznura (University of Groningen), 2023-04-08, Time: 10:50 - 11:30


Extra-urban sanctuaries are generally seen as sanctuaries located outside of the polis, placed in a more ‘rural’ setting, but still connected with the civic centre. The term “extra-urban” though has been the subject of much discussion as we attempt to define the concept more clearly. De Polignac argues that extra-urban sanctuaries were not only places of ritual, but also helped define territorial boundaries and served to bring communities and families together. Thessalian sanctuaries provide an excellent case study to examine this problem of definition. The sanctuaries in Thessaly often described as “extra-urban” have complicating factors associated with them that create issues with interpretation, leading to changing views for what is and is not extra-urban, or if some other term better identifies them.

This paper will discuss sanctuaries from Thessaly that are often discussed as extra-urban sanctuaries but present interesting problems with interpretation, causing conflicting views of definition over time. I will discuss three specific case studies, the sanctuaries of Zeus Olympios, Zeus Akraios, and Athena Itonia, examining them in their geographical and political contexts to show how different factors play a part in our understanding of extra-urban sanctuaries.


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