Rooted Cities Wandering Gods 2021

By 04/11/2021News

This conference will be held from 18-20 November in Groningen as a hybrid event, where participants can attend in person or online; click here for more details.

Meagan Mangum, one of our newer staff members, will be giving a talk on 18th November:

‘Identity and Oisyme: Greco-Thracian Cult in the Archaic North Aegean’

On the south side of Eleutheres Bay in Northern Greece, stands a small hill crowned with boulders. In the Archaic and Classical Periods, it was the acropolis of Oisyme, a sub-colony of the Thasos, itself colonised from Paros in the late 7th century BC. Identified as the Homeric Aisyme home of Casteniera, wife of Priam and mother of Gorgythion, the site was occupied from the Early Iron Age (EIA) on. We have no concrete name for the specific tribe, people or settlement of this era, just the vague appellation ‘Thracian’. The Archaic/Classical era deity worshiped there is also uncertain, although dedications and spatial organisation suggest a female deity with kotouphoric, chthonic attributes. Excavators suggested the deity may Athena Poliochos based on parallels to her Sanctuary at Thasos. Recent research at Thasos, however, offers an alternative interpretation based on pre-colonial Thracian practices, such as those seen at the urban Temples of Heracles and Artemis. A similar practice may have occurred at nearby Neapolis where the Parthenos, identified as a Hellenized version of the Thracian Artemis or Bendis, was the primary deity. The use and preservation of pre-colonial structures at Oisyme through the Roman era tied the settlement to its fictional and physical past and suggests a similar blending of Greek and Thracian practice. Locally such a merger could have aided the populations to construct a single, coherent polis identity, the Oisymians of ‘deep-soiled Thrace’ (Iliad 11.222). Seen from a micro-regional level, this activity may provide evidence of a shared religious practice that bound the members of the Thasian Peraia into a supra-civic community. This paper argues that the Oisymian acropolis, when viewed diachronically, demonstrates a complex semiotics that communicated shaped their self-perception as citizens and worshippers.