• The Disciplines of Geography: Constructing Space in the Ancient World

    Gina Konstantopoulos (see profile)
    Ancient Near East, Assyriologists
    Geography, Ancient, Assyriology, Maps in literature
    Item Type:
    Ancient geography
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    This article serves as introduction to a special double issue of the journal, comprised of seven articles that center on the theme of space and place in the ancient world. The essays examine the ways in which borders, frontiers, and the lands beyond them were created, defined, and maintained in the ancient world. They consider such themes within the context of the Old Assyrian period, the Hittite empire, and the Neo-Assyrian empire, as well as within the broader scope of Biblical texts and the Graeco-Roman world. As we only see evidence of a documented, physical, and thus fixed map in the later stages of Mesopotamian history, the ancient world primarily conceived of space through mental maps rather than physical ones. Thus, while the societies of the ancient Near East integrated knowledge gained by actual contact with distant lands into their world view, it was also informed by the literary conceptions of those same spaces. These mental maps were unsurprisingly prone to shifting over time, changing as the social conceptions of the world itself, its border and frontiers, the lands that lay beyond them and how those places might be defined, also changed. These papers question the intersection of concrete and fantastical, or real and imagined, that existed in both the ancient and pre-modern world, where distant locations become elaborately embroidered by fantastical constructions, despite the concrete connections of travel, trade, and even military enterprise.
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    Journal article    
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    4 years ago
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