By the end of WWI, the Greeks whom we still hear claiming they want “no more lost homelands” reclaimed the recognition of their patris on the south-eastern Black Sea shore. Like for their Ancient and Byzantine ancestors, the strongest foundation of their identity was their difference from their environment and their claimed kinship with the Mediterranean Hellenism. However, above their attachment to Hellenicity, their community has been always defined by their Aegean cognates through their remoteness and acculturation.
A critical, global history of Hellenism in Pontus still needs to be written. Several points suggest the complexity of this study. “Pontus” designates the surroundings of the Euxine Sea and the North-Eastern Asia Minor – two territories whose real and imaginary frontiers have been shifting during four millennia of history. The sources, partial and fragmentary, involve multidisciplinary methodologies. The theoretical concept of “identity” must be refined: as Pontikos and Pontios cover different cultural realities, represented by various concepts over the time, the research must be focused on singulary aspects mentioned alltogether in the claims of the Pontians.
Concentrating on the Ancient Pontians, one undertands the need to distinguish between “Pontiacness”, as a geographic identity which corresponds to topic groups, and “Pontianness”, as an ethnic identity which involves community of language, religion, customs, and memory of single origin. The first Pontian ethnos was proclaimed in the context of Mithridates Eupator’s kingdom and of Pompey’s Bithynian province. A political willpower, extending upon a territory and acting for the cultural uniformisation of a plural society are the three factors to be studied in order to explain what made this people a people. Achaemenid, Anatolian and Hellenic elements, revealed by litterary, epigraphic, numismatic sources and archaeological finds, fournished the material of this historical process.
Stefan Schreiber had studying Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology, Medieval History and Medieval German Literature and Language at Humboldt University Berlin. In 2010 he wrote his M.A. thesis on the subject of “’Kulturelle Aneignungen’ als Strategien des Umgangs mit Dingen. Archäologische Betrachtungen zu einem kulturanthropologischen Modell“ (‚Cultural appropriation’ as a strategy of the handling of things. Archaeological reflections on a cultural anthropological model). Currently, he is working on his doctoral thesis on the topic “Wenn Dinge wandern: ‚Römische Funde’ in consumptionscapes, communities of practice und identity spaces im Barbaricum“ (Shifting Things: “Roman“ finds in the Barbaricum in consumptionscapes, communities of practice and identity spaces). His interests are archaeological and anthropological theories, material culture studies, gender theory, culture contact situations and agency theory. Epistemologically, he argues from a constructivist and posthumanist point of view.
CSG-V – Reading Group for young academics.
Regular meeting every first Tuesday in the month.
If you are interested, please contact Kerstin P. Hofmann (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Within her research project on geometric and archaic bronze finds in Olympia Susanne Bocher is studying how early Greek sanctuaries were organized and how they were influenced by local and regional impacts. Especially religious activities involving votives and rituals as well as their impact on the formation of collective identities are in her focus.
Susanne Bocher studied Prehistoric and Classical Archaeology as well as Geology at the Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen and the University of Crete. Her PhD on geometric sheet-bronzes of Olympia was completed in 2010 and defended at the Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg. Since 2004 she has been working for the Olympia-Project at the German Archaeological Institute. Her current research project on early votives and their religious interpretation in the sanctuary of Olympia is part of the Project ‘Olympia and its environment’. Since 2010 she is also involved in the Kalaureia-Project of the Swedish Institute in Athens, where she is studying and interpreting the metal finds.
Anca Dan is interested in the history of Greek and Roman representations of spaces and peoples and in their receptions. After a PhD dissertation on the ancient geography of the Black Sea area, she prepares editions and commentaries of Pliny the Elder (Pontus and Caucasus, VI.1-46), Strabo (North-western Asia Minor, book XIII) and Dionysius of Byzantium (Description of the Bosporus). Within the Topoi’s CSG V, she works on the relationship between spaces and peoples, focusing on the invention of the first Pontian identity, in the Mithridatic kingdom and the Pompeian province of the Northern Cappadocia.
“Archaeotopia” focuses on archaeological sites as culturally charged locations and as a category of space sui generis in the contemporary cultural landscape. The mere act of designating a site – often accompanied by distinct physical markings and a change in legal status – can lead to abrupt termination of most previous and alternative uses, such as settlement and agricultural activities or the material exploitation of the physical remains of the past. The designation, development and maintenance of archaeological sites involve numerous interest groups and stakeholders, including local residents, landowners, academic experts, their institutions and funding bodies, policymakers at different administrative levels, visitors of all shades, local staff and economically interested parties. While archaeology and the notion of an archaeological site represent an ideational import from the Western world, this scenario is further broadened by such constellations as local versus foreign, national versus international, etc.
Whereas their status alone can bring archaeological sites into the focus of manifold political, economic and cultural interests and make them an arena of multiple social practices, they are also frequently subjected to severe physical transformations by individual interest groups. Usually, archaeologists and other academic parties enjoy privileged access for the sake of research, preservation and dissemination of historical knowledge. But archaeological sites can also be impregnated with further, potentially very divergent cultural
messages by other stakeholders, or can lend themselves to intensive commercial exploitation.
“Archaeotopia”, one of the projects within CSG V, investigates the motivations, scope and regulating factors of interventions in archaeological sites by a multitude of interest groups. The processes of identity formation triggered by and expressed in these appropriations are analysed in representative case studies using a variety of methods, which include topological survey, anthropological fieldwork and the evaluation of media coverage, textual material and pictorial sources. At present, studies on Carthage (Tunesia – Fig. 1), Thebes (Egypt – Fig. 2) and a range of smaller sites in the Middle Nile Valley (Sudan – Fig. 3) are envisaged. Due to their genesis and their ongoing appropriation by multinational agents, all of these sites offer a global perspective. After all, these sites are embedded in modern social contexts. Local communities at least partially dissociate themselves from them, but at the same time favour their appropriation under certain circumstances. Of specific brisance is the concept of the intrinsic value of cultural heritage, which appears as a foreign import in these contexts. It does, however, play a fundamental role in the appropriation of these sites by international, national and local stakeholders – discussion of this concept will therefore be an important part of the project.