Dr. Sandra Blakely will be giving a lecture on her current project entitled, “Seafaring and the Sacred: GIS, Network Models and the Cult of the Great Gods of Samothrace” in Mather House 100 on Wednesday, April 16 at 4:00pm.
Abstract of the project: The mystery cult of the great gods of Samothrace is distinct among ancient Mediterranean mysteries for both its preeminence and its promise. Samothrace was second only to Eleusis among the mysteries, and its sanctuary reflected the rich patronage of princes, generals and wealthy private individuals, both Greek and Roman. The promise to its initiates – safety in sea travel – was uniquely pragmatic among Greek mystery cults. In this project I pursue the hypothesis that the rites worked: Samothrace kept its initiates safe at sea. I contextualize the Samothracian promise among other Greek ritual and social responses to maritime risk; frame the analysis in archaeological and anthropological models of island networks; and use GIS technology to spatalize the data from the cult’s epigraphic record. The results demonstrate the capacity of digital humanities to approach a historical question which has not yet been investigated, but which was as central to the rites as the gods themselves were secret.