Thursday 15 August 2019

EAA conference at Bern (04-07.09.2019)

Sanctuaries of Euboea Island (Greece) and its Colonies: Recent Excavations and Studies

The island of Euboea, the second largest of Greece, lies in a prominent position between the Aegean Sea and the Greek mainland on one of the most important sea routes. Its poleis were influential in the Greek world through the foundation of trading posts and colonies in the Mediterranean, in particular in the North Aegean and in Southern Italy. On their journeys Euboean traders and oikists brought with them the cults and mythologies of their mother cities, whereas some Euboean sanctuaries had also affiliated cults on the Greek mainland.

Recently, several archaeological projects have focused on the exploration of the island’s sanctuaries, which were not only ritual centres, but also regional landmarks (e.g. Cape Artemision), crucial for understanding the topography of the island. The identification in 2017 of the extra-urban sanctuary of Artemis Amarysia at Amarynthos by the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Euboea is a major step in the study of the cults of the polis of Eretria and its geography. A series of further sanctuaries are currently being investigated on the island, using interdisciplinary approaches such as zooarchaeology, and they yield significant new insights on rituals and cults on Euboea, from Chalkis down to Karystos in the south.

The present session aims at re-evaluating the religious landscape of the Euboean poleis and their colonies based on new archaeological evidence, obtained through the excavation of cult sites and the study of individual cultic assemblages, on a local to pan-Euboean scale. Comparative studies of Euboean and other Greek sanctuaries, especially those on the opposite coast of the Euboean Gulf, or in the more distant colonial landscapes, might furthermore contribute to the understanding of the island’s cults in a wider context and of the relationships between the mother cities and their colonies through time.