Religion in Seleukid Syria: gods at the crossroads (301-64 BC)
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 19:07 authored by Nicholas Luke Wright
The dissertation Religion in Seleukid Syria: gods at the crossroads (301-64 BC) takes an integrative approach to the study of Hellenistic cult and cultic practices across the Levant during the period of domination by the Seleukid dynasty. It employs a synthesis of archaeological, numismatic and historical evidence in order to establish an overview of 'religion' in a period and region which is often under-represented in standard historical accounts, both ancient and modern. -- This study discusses religion on two principal levels, that of the state, and that of the individual communities which made up the state. An investigation of state attitudes towards religion discusses the manipulation of both Hellenic and indigenous beliefs by the king and his court in order to secure support among the military and the wider populace. It also places the establishment of the royal cult within this framework and illustrates how and why members of the royal family attained godhead in their own lifetime. With respect to individual communities, the study presents a series of case studies that explore the evidence for religious activity at a local and regional level. This principally takes the form of a study of cultic buildings, but encompasses issues of religious festivals and ritual activity where the evidence allows. -- The investigation of Syrian cult under the Seleukids has three principal outcomes. It documents one of the principal aspects of the lives of the past communities. Secondly it outlines the development of religious practices and expression in the region which was the birthplace of the modern world's three most influential monotheistic religions. Finally, the research methodology allows religion to be used as a lens through which the wider processes of acculturation and rejection within a colonial context may be explored - processes which continue to effect our own increasingly cosmopolitan world.