Abstract–The Social Dynamics of Dedication in the Delian Inventories of the Third Century: Audience, Function and Temporality

My project explores the social dynamics of dedication, as they are reflected in the dedications recorded in the Delian inventories during the third century BC. The Delian practice of annually producing inventories of dedications is quite exceptional. Very few sanctuaries produce regular publication of their inventories; the practice is restricted to Athens and Attica, Delos, and to a lesser extent Didyma. The inventories of Athenian and Attic sanctuaries have attracted considerable attention in modern scholarship. However, the same kind of attention has not been applied to the Delian inventories. While the Delian inventories have been studied in order to discuss their purpose (Linders, Hamilton), issues of literacy (Linders), history of objects (Prêtre), the overall structure of the administration of the sanctuary (Vial, Chankowski), and the date of establishment of festivals, especially royal festivals (Bruneau), no one has ever attempted to use them in order to examine the social dynamics of dedication. The inventories of the period of Independence provide us with a great amount of information about the objects dedicated to the Delian deities: we get the name of the object, and in some cases we get additional information, such as the name of the dedicant, the patronymic, the ethnic, a description of the object, the material of the object (gold, silver, ivory etc.), the weight, the state of preservation (broken, partially incomplete etc.), any inscriptions on the object itself, the deity to whom it was dedicated, and the purpose of its dedication. In this paper, I explore the problems we face as social historians when attempting to use the inventories in order to reconstruct the social, gender, and community/ethnic background of the dedicants. I discuss the issues of audience, function, and temporality of the inventories. Function, audience and temporality are, I believe, central issues in order to understand what these documents are so that we can use them as sources for social history.