Mary Bachvarova F'17
ACLS Fellowship Program 2017
Calling the Gods: How Cult Practices Moved across Space and Time in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean
This project uncovers the prehistory of key founding texts of Western literature by going beyond discussing parallels between ancient Greek literature and earlier texts from Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia and taking on the questions of how, when, why, and where such parallels arose. It draws on methodologies from classics, Near Eastern studies, archaeology, gender studies, and the history of religion to make visible the processes of transmission and reworking of verbal art across time, space, and linguistic and cultural barriers. It focuses on archaeologically salient items and practices presented in the texts as effecting the gods’ movement to explain how descendants of Hittite prayers and incantations were able to influence the Greek tradition of cult song as found in, e.g., Sappho, Alcaeus, and tragedy via processes of cultural appropriation and negotiation between Greek settlers and indigenous populations.