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Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

ARTICLES | 2012

14 June 2012

Immaterial landscapes: Homeric geography and the Ionian Islands in Greece

Gert Jan van Wijngaarden Quaternary International 251 (February 2012): 136-141.

Abstract

To understand the human perception of landscapes in the past, archaeologists would require knowledge of the immaterial landscape elements: the stories that are connected to physical landscape features. One way of acquiring access to such stories is through written literature (poetry, prose), which has survived centuries and is connected to specific landscapes. In this article, a particular powerful example is examined: Homer’s Odyssey. It will be argued that the epic myth has strong interconnections to the landscape of the Ionian Islands in Greece. Whether the Homeric Geography is reflected in the current landscape remains open for debate. However, the text itself has played an important role in the formation of the archaeological record, in the way classical scholarship in the region has developed and in public perceptions of archaeology and history. Because of the extremely long narrative history, Homer’s Odyssey has played a structuring role with regard to the cultural landscape.

 

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