Abstract | What’s in a Name? Linguistic Considerations in the study of ‘Karian’ religion

Naomi Carless Unwin

The study of religion in Karia, in south western Anatolia, is inextricably linked with the wider social dynamics of the region; the cultural and religious character of the region was shaped by sustained interaction with both east and west. My intention in this paper is to reconsider the framework in which discussions of religion in Karia are frequently embedded, and address the methodological issues that need to be considered when addressing the practice of religion in Anatolia in the ancient world. The complexities of the topic are compounded by the source materials available; the majority derives from the Classical period or later, and is in the Greek language. In this paper I will examine the role of language in religious practices; did the assimilation of local ‘Karian’ deities with those of the Greek pantheon alter the nature of the deities concerned, or was it a simple matter of identification? Bilingualism developed early in Karia due to the proximity of the coastal Greek settlements, while the Karian language disappears from the written record at some point in the Hellenistic period; I intend to readdress the assumption that this was to the detriment of a regional identity, and consider the social dynamics of the ‘Hellenization’ of Karian deities.




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