Justin Walsh deposited Exchange and Influence: Hybridity and the Gate Reliefs of Thasos on Humanities Commons 2 years ago
For at least a decade, scholars examining colonial influences on the material culture of indigenous populations in the ancient Mediterranean have found recourse in the concept of hybridity. These investigators have recognized that in situations where different cultural groups meet and mix, artifactual and behavioral traits from both the dominant and the subordinate cultures mix, too. Those traits – what might, in other arenas of discourse, be called “memes” – are subsequently given new and localized meanings. The result is something that is neither one culture nor the other, but rather is new and different, something “in between”: a hybrid. This paper examines archaic and classical Thasos as a colonial context in which individuals belonging to different ethnic groups met and negotiated a wide variety of political, economic, and social relationships. Rather than looking at material of a strictly archaeological nature, such as grave goods or domestic assemblages, the subject
of this paper will be an application of hybridity theory to Thasian visual arts. A series of relief sculptures found at Thasos shows that the artists who produced them were aware of – and open to – ideas and styles from across the Aegean and beyond, but they were not constrained to rote copying of those ideas. Hybridity therefore offers a powerful interpretative tool for understanding how Thasians adopted and adapted outside influences to suit their own needs, meanings, and society.