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A.J.R. (Adam) Wiznura, MA

PhD student
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PhD Project - Connecting the Greeks: Festival Networks and Regional Identities in Hellenistic Thessaly

This project is part of the NWO-funded project Connecting the Greeks: multi-scalar festival networks in the Hellenistic world, directed by Prof. dr. O.M. van Nijf and Dr. C.G. Williamson at the University of Groningen. 

Festivals of all types, including athletic and religious festivals, contribute to a sense of belonging and identity at a local level and are a way of creating connectivity at a regional level. This project posits that festivals and festival networks played a large part in the creation of a Thessalian regional identity.

The mainland Greek region of Thessaly was a landscape of multiple layers of socio-political identities. Thessaly was not ethnically homogenous but was a more complex region whose dominant population began to identify as Thessalians only by the end of the Archaic period, but the identifications of specific communities tended to shift in and out of a Thessalian affiliation throughout Thessaly’s history. The existence of an overarching Thessalian League, which was believed to exist in the Archaic and Classical periods, is in fact something that is difficult to identify in the literary and epigraphic sources prior to the Hellenistic period. Who was and was not Thessalian was at times restricted and sometimes extended and so a “Thessalian” was in fact a fluid identifier during the constant power struggles of the Hellenistic Period. This “Thessalian” identity can be studied by analysing the festivals and how they connected the people.

Festivals in Thessaly, during this turbulent Hellenistic Period, are of importance as they represent not only connectivity between peoples in Thessaly, but because of the erratic and uncertain nature of the period in Thessaly (invasions, forced population movements, increased foreign contacts, and political and religious reforms), the festivals are a good chronological indicator of how beliefs and customs were ever changing but could also stay the same.

My research seeks to understand the roles of festivals in identity-formation processes during the Hellenistic period in Thessaly. It also attempts to answer the question of how festivals served to connect communities within the region as well as the wider Greek world. What were the role of festivals in establishing a cohesive sense of regional identity?

Last modified:25 June 2022 11.28 a.m.