|previous article in this issue||next article in this issue|
Document Details :
Title: Mountains of Memory
Subtitle: Triangulating Landscape, Cult and Regional Identity through Zeus
Author(s): WIZNURA, Adam , WILLIAMSON, Christina G.
Volume: 24 Date: 2018-2020
This article investigates the triangular relationship between mountains, religion, and regional identity in the Graeco-Roman world. We focus on three different peak sanctuaries of Zeus to assess their role in shaping political landscapes and raising regional awareness: Zeus Lykaios on Mount Lykaion in Arkadia, Zeus Akraios on Mount Pelion in Thessaly, and Zeus Stratios on a plateau near Amaseia in the highlands of Pontos. The analysis examines the physical mountain, the narratives associated with it, the visuality through intervisibility and viewshed analyses, and the role of ritual and festival as the cult becomes absorbed by a nearby city. Through our analyses, incorporating material evidence such as epigraphy and numismatics, we show that visual prominence was not always the mountain’s main asset. Local myth and legend played a part in foregrounding these cults in the surrounding regions, helping the mountains to acquire a symbolic and political importance over time. We conclude by suggesting that these mountain sanctuaries of Zeus provide a locus of social memory – they were storied places that acquired significance in the political landscape and were claimed by nearby cities to both legitimise their own place in the landscape, thereby creating a sense of region.