The Landscape of the Lion: Economies of Religion andPolitics in the Nemean Countryside (800 B.C. to A.D. 700)

by Christian F Cloke

Institution: University of Cincinnati
Year: 2016
Keywords: Archaeology; Ancient Economy; Mediterranean Survey Archaeology; Nemea, Greece; Greco-Roman religion and early Christianity; Regional exchange networks; Roman Greece
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064006
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ucin1455208969


“The Landscape of the Lion: Economies of Religion and Politics in the Nemean Countryside (800 B.C. to A.D. 700),” synthesizes archaeological evidence and ancient historical sources to construct a history for the Nemea Valley, Greece from the Geometric through Late Roman periods, a span of roughly 1,500 years. In the first part of the dissertation, I examine in detail a wide range of functional types of sites discovered by the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project (NVAP) between 1984 and 1989. I consider their economic relationships to local population and religious centers, such as the city-state of Phlius and the Sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea – the former was a minor polis, while the latter was famous in antiquity for hosting the biennial Nemean Games. With an attention to the constantly evolving political agendas and alignments of neighboring city states (chiefly Argos and Corinth), I demonstrate that, in the absence of a polis center within the contested Nemea Valley, local pagan and Christian institutions were the most significant of those agents that determined patterns of settlement and rural economy. In the background, smaller, more isolated cult places situated on polis borders, together with a network of fortified positions, demarcated territory and asserted the dominion of the major actors within the region.In the second part of my dissertation, I show in outline how a loose network of numerous small Classical farms was, by the Late Roman period (A.D. 400-700), gradually transformed into an array of fewer and larger landholdings and villa estates that were engaged in intensive cultivation. Key to recognizing this subtle and gradual change is a novel approach making use of all artifact data produced by the survey, which show how landscape exploitation over time became more extensive and simultaneously entailed the adoption of new agricultural methods intended to produce greater yields from available land.As a tool for studying the larger regional – and Mediterranean-wide – processes that impacted the Nemea Valley, I use pottery from the NVAP survey as a proxy indicator for the exchange of goods in general. A program of petrographic analysis has been employed to distinguish locally produced coarse wares from imported vessels. In this way I show how the orientation of the area’s economy – that is the local resources being utilized, the leveraging of these resources into different modes of production (agricultural, pastoral, ceramic, industrial), and patterns of commodity consumption – changed through time. During Argos’ supervision of the Nemean sanctuary and games, goods from this city played a significant role in supplying local needs, but, with the abandonment of the sanctuary in the Hellenistic period, there was an important shift in exchange patterns that favored the prosperous Roman city of Corinth, a nearer neighbor to Nemea and a city with strong ties to the area in Geometric and earlier periods.As a whole, my dissertation is a long-term history of place, and one that draws on advances in current… Advisors/Committee Members: Davis, Jack (Committee Chair).