17-05-'10 | Rational rituals in landscapes of power ... | Christina Williamson | AWS
Rational rituals in landscapes of power. The use of sanctuaries by rulers to transform space in Karia (Zeus at Labraunda) and Pergamon (Meter Theon at Mamurt Kale)| Ancient World Seminar
‘Rational ritual’ is a concept developed by Chwe (Rational ritual. Culture, coordination, and common knowledge, Princeton 2001) as one of the most effective ways of creating common knowledge and therefore cooperation; his prime examples center on effective advertising. This paper will explore this concept as one avenue towards understanding why remote sanctuaries, difficult to access, were often heavily monumentalized by rulers. Two sanctuaries in western Asia Minor serve as case studies: the sanctuary of Zeus at Labraunda, drastically reshaped in the mid-fourth century BC under Maussollos, satrap of Karia, and the peak sanctuary of the Mother of the Gods at Mamurt Kale, architecturally framed in the early third century BC by Philetairos, founder of the Attalids in Pergamon. The magnetic attraction of these sanctuaries is in itself already an indication of the fundamental force that connected cult, community and place. This paper will argue that it is exactly this force that rulers sought to channel through the use of rational ritual. The dialogue between ruler and ruled revolved around the creation of ‘common knowledge’. Ritual was the perfect medium and sanctuaries the perfect podium, with their festivals and monuments, and especially with their place in the landscape.
Christina Williamson is a PhD student at the University of Groningen, currently working on her dissertation ‘City and sanctuary in Hellenistic Asia Minor. Sacred and ideological landscapes’ under the supervision of Prof.dr. Onno van Nijf (Ancient History), Prof.dr. Peter Attema (Archaeology) and Dr. Felix Pirson (Director DAI Abteilung Istanbul).