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Greek Federal States and Their Sanctuaries: Identity and Integration

Greek Federal States and Their Sanctuaries: Identity and Integration

Edited by Peter Funke and Matthias Haake (Ancient History). Pp. 244, figs. 6. Franz Steiner, Stuttgart 2013. €52. ISBN 978-3-515-10307-7 (cloth).

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This volume presents 13 revised papers initially presented at a June 2010 conference at Westfälische Wilhelms-Univeristät Münster on the topic of Greek federal states and sanctuaries. As Funke notes in his useful introductory chapter, such sanctuaries remain relatively understudied and undertheorized, despite ample evidence for the multiple roles they played in influencing regional politics, finance, and identity formation throughout Greek history.

Rizakis offers a thorough overview of the cult of Zeus Homarios in the northwestern Peloponnese and the central role it played in the development of Achaian identity and federalism. Funke presents a rich discussion of the position of the Sanctuary of Apollo Thermios at Thermon within the expanding “sacred landscape” of Aitolia, with consideration of both the itinerant Panaitolika and other regionally prominent sanctuaries (e.g., Artemis Laphria at Kalydon). Freitag argues that regional, Akarnanian identity did not appear until quite late (first attested in late fifth century B.C.E.) and was not closely linked with a central cult site until the third century, when the Sanctuary of Apollo Aktios at Anaktorion is attested playing a federal role; while the river god Acheloos seems to have been a focus of Akarnanian identity in earlier periods, he was not a major figure in cult.

Ganter uses the complex history of the Sanctuary of Apollo Ptoios to reflect more broadly on the role of local polities in generating regional identities in Boiotia; here, as elsewhere in the volume, contestation precedes and accompanies integration. Roy discusses the “Panhellenic” Sanctuary of Olympia from the perspective of its Elean administrators, who used the site to articulate their superiority over local dependencies and, when possible, to press their advantages in supraregional politics. Fronda describes the evolving membership of the Italiote League in the Classical and Hellenistic periods from union of Achaian apoikiai to “pan-Italiote association” (136), with a concomitant shift of the venue of the league panegyris from the Sanctuary of Zeus Homarios to Herakleia.

Rocchi excavates the myths and cults of the Lokrians and their relationship to contemporary regional polities. By the fourth century, eastern and western Lokrians had reclaimed components of their shared, opprobrious legendary past—the crime of Lokrian Aias at Troy and the wrath of Athena Ilias—and rewritten them into the organization and representation of their respective koina. Hatzopoulos demonstrates that the Sanctuary of Zeus Olympios at Dion played the role of “national capital” in Macedonia, to be distinguished from the “royal capital” at Aigai with its important dynastic cult site in honor of Herakles Patroios. Epiros offers a close parallel for the cultic expression of the “dual nature of the state” (170) as king and ethnos.

In a discussion of the koina of the Nesiotai, Lesbians, and Cretans, Buraselis notes that different models of federalism evolved in the Aegean during the Hellenistic period in response to particular challenges posed by the region’s island polities; external, hegemonic (e.g., Antigonid, Ptolemaic) leadership was typical and, while regionally prominent sanctuaries could be made significant in the development of such politics (e.g., to Meson on Lesbos, Delos for the Nesiotai), they were by no means essential. McInerney observes: “Quite simply, sanctuaries generate social complexity. The pressure to exercise more direct control of sanctuaries is an engine driving systemic change, resulting in the growth of regional organization” (197); McInerney elucidates a dynamic Early Iron Age and Early Archaic sanctuary landscape in eastern Phokis and Lokris, which influenced Phokian acquisition of the sanctuary at Kalapodi in the Late Archaic period and the formalization of a Phokian state.

Bouchon and Helly offer an overview of the principal figures of myth and cult around which Thessalian identity and various formations of the Thessalian koinon were organized from the Archaic through the Hellenistic period: Aiatos, Athena Itonia, Zeus Olympios, and Zeus Eleutherios. Nielsen suggests that the relatively short durations of the Triphylian and Arkadian Leagues inhibited the acquisition of “federal” functions by regionally prominent sanctuaries.

The papers are of uniformly high quality and well illustrate the formal and geographic diversity of the phenomena of federal states and sanctuaries, although the volume lacks indices and should have been proofread more carefully. In general, there is little new ground broken, and the explicitly comparative framework invoked by Funke at the outset materializes only occasionally. But the volume will have lasting value as a clear and concise statement of the status quaestionis and as a record of the consolidating steps that yielded Federalism in Greek Antiquity (H. Beck and P. Funke, eds. [forthcoming]), which will supersede  Larsen’s Greek Federal States (Oxford 1968).

Denver Graninger
Department of History
University of California, Riverside

Book Review of Greek Federal States and Their Sanctuaries: Identity and Integration, edited by Peter Funke and Matthias Haake

Reviewed by Denver Graninger

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 119, No. 4 (October 2015)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1194.Graninger

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