Seleucid Space: The Ideology and Practice of Territory in the Seleucid Empire

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Seleucid Space: The Ideology and Practice of Territory in the Seleucid Empire

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Title: Seleucid Space: The Ideology and Practice of Territory in the Seleucid Empire
Author: Kosmin, Paul Joseph
Citation: Kosmin, Paul Joseph. 2012. Seleucid Space: The Ideology and Practice of Territory in the Seleucid Empire. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation investigates how the agents and organs of the Seleucid Empire explored, bounded, and endowed with meaning its imperial territory. I argue that king and court responded to the enormous opportunities and challenges of such a landscape with a range of ideological constructions and practical interventions, from border diplomacy to colonialism, ethnographic writing to royal parade. The first half concentrates on the kingdom's "pioneering phase" during the reigns of Seleucus I and Antiochus I. It examines the closing of the empire's eastern frontier in India and Central Asia and the role of court ethnographers in naturalizing the shape of this landscape. I then shift to the western periphery and investigate the founder-king's failed attempt to conquer Macedonia and the consequent relocation of homeland associations to northern Syria. In the second half of the dissertation the focus falls on the mature kingdom in the later third and second centuries BCE and on its declining agony. I look at the modes in which the bounded imperial landscape was articulated and ordered - the itinerant court and the ways it forged a sovereign terrain around the king's body, and the colonial foundations and their evolving importance within the kingdom. It is argued that the spatial practices and ideology that brought the empire into existence also generated the fault-lines along which it fell apart. In terms of method, the dissertation engages with spatial theory and cultural geography, and full use is made of archaeological material and textual evidence, literary and epigraphic, Greek, Roman, Babylonian, Jewish, and Persian.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10304415
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