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Religious Structures In The Seleukid Empire: An Inter-regional Case Study Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Thomson, Neil P
Supervisor and department
Haagsma, Margriet
Examining committee member and department
Garvie-Lok, Sandra (Anthropology
Haagsma, Margriet (History and Classics
Lemire, Beverly (History and Classics)
Ben Zvi, Ehud (History and Classics)
Department of History and Classics
Ancient Societies and Cultures
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
Abstract: The present study is a comparison and analysis of five temple structures located within three different military colonies of the Seleukid Empire in an effort to identify potential locations of cultural interaction and communication. The comparison is temporally restricted to the first generations of Seleukid hegemony beginning in the last quarter of the fourth century BCE. Geographically, the analysis focuses on the communities of Dura-Europos in Mesopotamia, Jebel Khalid in Syria, and Aï-Khanoum in Baktria (modern Afghanistan). The method by which the potential locations within these communities is carried out, is through the use of a spatial analysis which combines the mobile material remains of the site with the remaining architectural features to engage with areas of potential ritual activity. These areas of potentiality represent links to focal communities, or smaller subsets of the population, which are analogous case studies to potential cultural groups. Specifically the smaller, identifiable groups are comparable to larger patterns of grouping within the civic community as a whole. Representative links could be established through the identification of a spatial syntax which, in turn, could be tied into repetitive and intentional performance of ritual act. The focal communities drawn from this analysis display identifiable cultural interactions within the Seleukid colonies but also represent a consistent structural form cross-regionally within the empire. This consistency could be indicative of both a common ritual activity in different regions within the empire, but also likely indicates that there was a comparable use of space by different focal communities cross-culturally as well as cross-temporally.
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