Identities in the Coastal Hellenistic Levant: Adaptive and Non-Adaptive Traits
Mediterranean Resilience - Collapse and Adaptation in Antique Maritime Societies - Assaf Yasur-Landau
Eleonora Bedin [+]
University of Haifa (PhD candidate)
Throughout antiquity, coastal Mediterranean societies were regularly inclined to adapt their cultural constructs in response to challenges in their routine and changes in their environment. Most of the crises displayed in this volume, and the modes of adaptability devised to meet with them, would have found representation in the religious systems of contemporary societies. Not all aspects of identity and self representation were open for change, though. In the Hellenistic Levant, for example, two complementary tendencies seem to coexist. On the one hand, the maritime medium, in its overwhelming presence and influence, appears to have served as a significant motivator for adaptation, traceable most distinctly within mutable pantheons and religious practices. Various techniques of syncretism, assimilation, the recruitment of universal deities and the adoption of well-spread rituals, are present in society’s constant struggle against the perils of the sea. On the other hand, a distinct element of self-differentiation and distinction of identity emerges from individual political entities, consisting of unique religious practices and allegedly autochthonous cults and rituals. Both tendencies appear to exist simultaneously, and it is the purpose of this article to study the relationship between them, whether complementary, competitive, responsive, or otherwise; this by analyzing sources of epigraphic, literary, and numismatic nature, originating in Akko- Ptolemais, Dora, Joppa, and Ascalon.