Barker, Elton and Isaksen, Leif
Greeks and Others around the Black Sea: representing space in Herodotus
At Fourth International Congress on Black Sea Antiquities, Turkey.
14 - 18 Sep 2009.
Full text not available from this repository.
Xerxes’ bridging of the Hellespont, which includes the king whipping the sea to order, suggests a transgressive act, the crossing of a boundary, a fundamental geographical, and ideological, divide between east and west. Yet, elsewhere in Herodotus’ narrative that division is less clearly marked, particularly where the peoples of the Black Sea are concerned. How does Herodotus talk about those groups? Are any identified as Greek and, if so, how do they relate to their mainland compatriots? With what other places are they connected and what might those connections reveal about Herodotus’ world?
This paper reports on an interdisciplinary project that employs recent developments in geo-spatial software to foster new insights into Herodotus’ representation of space, with a particular focus on the connectivity between the cities around the Black Sea and the rest of the Mediterranean. It aims to address three critical ideas: in what ways spatial representations inform notions of identity; whether different peoples conceive of space in culturally distinct ways; and the extent to which Herodotus’ narrative presents the world around the Hellespont in terms of an east/west polarity or as a network of interlocking places.
The first part of the paper will outline the methodology behind the marking up of Herodotus’ text and the formation of the spatial database. Next, the database, derived from the places mentioned by Herodotus, will be fed into a gazetteer in order to create a ‘Herodotus Earth’ depiction of the communities dotted around the Pontus. Lastly, by drawing out both the quantitative and qualitative nature of those relationships, we aim to create a cumulative network map of the spatial relationships contained in Herodotus’ text. The overall objective is to provide unprecedented visual tools to capture the ‘deep’ topological structures of the text, which function independently of superficial, topographical maps of the period
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