The Queen of Heaven and a Goddess for All the People: Religion, Cultural Evolution, and Social Development in Iron Age Greece


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation argues that the worship of the “Queen of Heaven” evolved from Bronze Age origins to structure novel socio-political forms in Iron Age Greece (1000-500 BCE), while cutting across local identities in a time of burgeoning cross-cultural trade. Drawing on models from cultural evolutionary sociology and psychology and economic theories of institutions, the study analyzes the cultural evolution of the worship of the “Queen of Heaven” in its many guises across the Bronze and Iron Ages. With this backdrop, the study takes six archaeological case studies from Iron Age Greece and analyzes the symbolism of religious finds within their socio-political contexts. Finally, the dissertation examines the worship of this deity in trading sites across the Mediterranean and its role in cross-cultural interaction. The results show religion as a vital medium through which societies articulate and enact ideas of sovereignty and build common identities with one another across cultural boundaries.