AXIS 4 - Cultural phenomena in the Mediterranean: contacts, exchanges and transfers

Axis 4 of the ARKAIA Institute of Mediterranean Archaeology analyses the intellectual constructions and the transfer of ideas, knowledge and technology in the Mediterranean.

The MMSH teams have been exploring the cultural themes of ancient and medieval Mediterranean societies for several decades and have acquired international visibility, distinguished by calls for local (LabexMed and A*Midex), national (ANR), and European (6th FPRD, European Ramses network2 since 2006) projects, with Italian, Spanish, Greek or Turkish partnerships. They can be broken down into three main themes:

  • Inter-ethnic contacts and structuring of spaces in the Mediterranean

The theme of migration, strongly inserted in the issues raised by the MMSH, has also been explored by archaeology teams since prehistoric times. In addition to the population movements studied through biological traces, the positions acquired over the last thirty years are reinforced by moving the cursor towards the appropriation and exploitation of spaces in colonial environments, whether these are territories occupied by the Greeks or dominated by Rome, in southern Gaul and beyond (in Sicily at Megara Hyblaea, in Albania and southern Gaul), then by Byzantium in the eastern Mediterranean. In a legal, political and economic dimension, and from the joint sources of philology (Greek, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew literature at the TDMAM and the CCJ), epigraphy (at the CCJ, notably on the Orange cadastre) and material culture (CCJ, IRAA, LA3M), the notions of private / public / religious space are understood as keys to the city's fabric and its architecture, while the organization of civic territories is considered through the relations between different cultures (Greek/Roman and indigenous on the one hand, Byzantine/Arab-Muslim on the other), so as to highlight the specificities of the relations between them. Finally, the immaterial dimension of language, culture and symbolism is not omitted. While the relations between Rome and Greece remain a privileged field of research, the reflection is extended to other areas of cultural contacts: Christians and pagans of the end of the Empire, the Christian world and the Arab world, etc.

  • Constructions, representations and memorialisations of political and religious powers

The theoretical construction of power is explored through philosophical theorizations of politics and political, legal, institutional and religious modes of organization. This analysis is pursued in the representations and expressions of power, with a focus on the disjunctions between discourses on power and established powers, from classical Greek societies to Christian and Muslim societies, and the Byzantine iconography of the saints. The places of power are finally approached by highlighting the ways in which the city is culturally appropriated by the different components of society and the construction of an urban memory, a factor of adhesion and conflict. The testimonies of ancient and medieval literature, studied by the researchers of the TDMAM and the CCJ, are combined with architectural or sculptural remains, analysed by those of the CCJ, the IRAA and the LA3M to draw a highly politicised landscape, built by political and religious powers.

  • Construction and transfer of knowledge in the ancient and medieval Mediterranean

Finally, the Institute is particularly interested in the phenomena of knowledge construction and transfer (technical knowledge in medicine or architecture, and the history of ideas), as well as their modes of expression and transmission (encyclopaedism and collectionism), and the places where they are developed and preserved. These themes can only be explored on the basis of close interdisciplinarity between philologists from the TDMAM and archaeologists from the CCJ and LA3M: the study of corpuses of texts is inseparable from their media, from papyrus to digital humanities.

Contact information

Institute of Mediterranean Archaeology ARKAIA
Mediterranean House of Human Sciences
5 rue du Château de l'Horloge, BP 647
13094 Aix-en-Provence / +33 4 42 52 41 10

logo de l'institut

circulation, migration, appropriation of spaces, inter-ethnic contacts
political history, economic history, religious history
philology, epigraphy, history, archaeology
architecture, sculpture
history of ideas, knowledge transfer
Rome, Greece, East, West, Christianity, Arab world, Judaism