Cicek Tascioglu Beeby

ClassicsUniversity of North Carolina / Chapel Hill

Award Information

2017 IDRF Program

ClassicsUniversity of North Carolina / Chapel Hill

Spatial Narratives of Mortuary Landscapes in Early Iron Age Greece

Using the rise of cities and city-states in Greece in the 8th century BC as a backdrop, this project examines how people use mortuary landscapes to create group identities and navigate socio-political changes. After roughly 400 years of a decentralized settlement pattern, Greece witnessed a gradual coalescence around proto-urban centers in 8th century BC. This period, once termed the "8th-century Renaissance" in Greek archaeology, is the formative decades of Greek city-states and urbanization. My study explores the changes in the use and organization of cemeteries amidst these social and cultural transformations. Some have argued that the increased formalization of cemeteries in this period reflects an attempt to distance the physical reality of death or to exclude certain classes from exercising burial rites. Traditional models of Greek urbanism, therefore, have focused on distance and demarcation between the spaces of the living and the dead. Drawing on theories of space and memory-making in anthropology, sociology, and human geography, my study revises models of polarized spaces in Greek cities and frames mortuary contexts as porous, fluid, and active landscapes in which identities are negotiated. I argue that cemeteries of the 8th century BC reveal changing strategies in memory-making during socio-political realignment: various scales of memory, ranging from private family histories to collective shared pasts, inform the spatial organization of cemeteries and the burial practices performed within them. To that end, I employ GIS to chart the diachronic changes in mortuary activity in four Greek cities with an emphasis on the reuse or abandonment of graves, distribution patterns, cluster analysis, internal organization of cemeteries, and articulation of space. Through this project, I hope to replace the undue focus on binary oppositions in Greek urbanism with a more holistic approach to the spatial, symbolic, and cognitive links between cemetery and settlement.