Department of Classics

Peri Johnson, UT - Austin: "Histories of an Imperial and Colonial Landscape? An Archaeological Study of the Mountains of the Southern Black Sea during the Achaemenid Period"

Tue, March 18, 2014 | CAL 516 (Middle East Reading Room)

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

From Herodotus, the father of east-west discursive conflict, to the mercenary Xenophon, Greek historians have constructed stereotypes of the inhabitants of the mountainous valleys inland from the southern Black Sea as uncivilized and capricious. Revisiting these stereotypes, modern historians have found their own imperial imaginations in antiquity and written stories of primitive peoples or chiefdoms on the edge of empire in the process of forming secondary states. Focusing on models of progress and imperialism from the perspective of the imperial center, however, overlooks the violence of imperial expansion both on the ground and in the writing of its histories. This talk focuses on the region of contemporary northern central Turkey that becomes known as Paphlagonia during the Achaemenid Empire (c. 550-330 BCE). Beginning with an inquiry into how best to understand historical discursive stereotypes within the context of expansion, the talk will turn to the archaeological changes in the landscape of Paphlagonia during the Achaemenid period. Moving beyond imperialism to colonialism, the talk will end with a discussion of how histories of the Achaemenids discursively participate in Greek colonialism along the Aegean and Black Sea coasts. Through a comparison of several burial monuments of the Achaemenid elites in the region, we will grapple with the Achaemenid-Greek dichotomy of inland landholding and coastal urbanism.

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