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RA 1: Cultural strategies and interaction

Due to the special ethnic environment, which included settled Greeks as well as local, semi-nomadic tribes (Scythians, Taurians, and Sarmatians), the northern littoral of the Black Sea is a highly promising area for a case study of the interaction between heterogeneous ethnic groups through their material culture. How was material culture used and manipulated in the creation of identities? The project will concentrate on the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, and pay special attention to the social dimensions: elite versus common people's use of material culture as reflected in the archaeological finds. The famous royal burial mounds in e.g. the eastern Crimea and the Taman Peninsula show luxury items of Greek origin but with a clearly Scythian identity and iconography. Is a similar pattern reflected in the burials of ordinary Scythians? Sanctuaries were among the most common meeting places. How widespread was Greek participation in local cults, or vice versa? Do we find examples of adaption, reinterpretation or syncretism of cults? The Aegean Greeks, and later the Romans, perceived Taurian and Scythian cults as particularly abhorrent, involving savage rites and human sacrifices. Can the material culture provide us with a picture beyond this hostile mythology and image-making?

Sub-projects:

RA 1A.1: Burial customs as indicators of cultural identity (Jane Hjarl Petersen)

RA 1A.2: Eschatology in the northwestern Black Sea region and beyond (Pia Guldager Bilde)

RA 1B: Perceptions of the Black Sea region (George Hinge)

Main responsible: Pia Guldager Bilde

Main activity: international conferences in 2003 and in 2006

Main publications: P. Guldager Bilde & V. Stolba, Surveying the Greek Chora. The Black Sea Region in a Comparative Perspective, Black Sea Studies 4. Aarhus 2006; P. Guldager Bilde & J. Hjarl Petersen, Meeting of Cultures  - Between Conflicts and Coexistence, Black Sea Studies 8. Aarhus 2009.  


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