*In Progress* (so far over 240 posts)
The purpose of this website is to collect, organize, and make public resources for the reconstruction of ethnic relations and ethnographic culture in the ancient Mediterranean and near eastern worlds. Please use the accordion-style arrows and categories in the right sidebar to navigate the site.
“Ethnographic culture,” as we intend it, moves beyond the idea of “ethnography” (literally “representing peoples” or “writing about peoples”) as a Greek and Roman literary genre describing non-Greek and non-Roman peoples (“barbarians”). Instead, ethnographic culture refers to the ways in which the imagination, classification, and description of “other peoples” actively played out in large-scale and small-scale ways across societies – especially in conquest and colonization, but also in local social interactions, and in connection with diasporic communities of immigrants. Judeans (Jews) and Jesus adherents (Christians) were very much a part of this larger sphere of ethnic encounters, so they have a place here too (see especially categories 1 and 5).
This website then combines literary, epigraphic, and visual data in order to aid students and researchers in a fuller understanding of ethnographic culture. It also facilitates the reconstruction of minoritized ethnic groups spread across time (from the fifth century BCE to the sixth century CE) and geography (across the Mediterranean and near east).
There are times when the organization of material mimics or uses terms from the ancient material. This is not to naturalize those categories or terms, but rather to more clearly demonstrate the categories with which ancient writers were working.
Who did it?: This website reflects the ongoing work of Maia Kotrosits and Phil Harland (along with voluntary scholarly contributors) supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) under the rubric of “Ethnicity, Diaspora, and Ethnographic Culture in the Greco-Roman World.” Many thanks to the Research Assistants from York University who have helped with inputting or checking translations: Amy House, Victoria Muccilli, Daniel Mitchell, and Rosalie Reis.
Who are those guys shaking hands at the top?: Aglibol and Malakbel. The monument is from Rome and is a dedication to the Palmyrene gods Aglibol (Moon) and Malakbel (Sun) by Iahari son of Haliphi from Palmyra in Syria (IGUR I 119-120; 236 CE). The inscription is bilingual, in both Greek and Palmyrene. That is not a giant asparagus in the middle. (Currently in the basement of the Capitoline museum in Rome; photo by Harland).
What about the people traveling in the wagon? This is a depiction of a family of northern peoples (Sarmatians or Dacians) pictured as nomads by the creators of “Trajan’s trophy” (link to discussion; photo by Cristian Chirita, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0).