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Document Details :

Title: The Persea Tree from Alexander to Late Antiquity
Subtitle: A Contribution to the Cultural and Social History of Greco-Roman Egypt
Author(s): CANEVA, Stefano G.
Journal: Ancient Society
Volume: 46    Date: 2016   
Pages: 39-66
DOI: 10.2143/AS.46.0.3167450

Abstract :
The paper sketches a cultural history of the sacred tree persea in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt with a particular focus on the patterns of continuity and transformation in comparison with the dynastic period. The persea case shows that the survival of Egyptian religious traditions was combined with their adaptation to new sociocultural contexts and with innovative uses, such as the integration of persea within Greek agonistic traditions under the Ptolemies. The dedication of persea trees to a mixed Greco-Egyptian pantheon in OGIS 97 (early second century BC) sheds light on the interaction between Egyptian religion and loyalism to the Ptolemies and on its socio-political underpinnings. Moreover, personal religious commitment and legal measures meant to prevent the extinction of sacred trees in the Imperial period allow for a discussion concerning the applicability of the modern category of environmentalism to the study of ancient cultures.

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