Hic Sunt Dracones

Creating, Defining, and Abstracting Place in the Ancient World

Workshop, organized by Gina Konstantopoulos, ISAW Visiting Assistant Professor
October 28, 9:00am-6:00pm

This article first appeared in ISAW Newsletter 16, Fall 2016.

Borders, frontiers, and the lands beyond them were created, defined, and maintained through a variety of physical, geographical, and moreover, social and cultural means in the ancient Near East, Biblical World, and the ancient Mediterranean. While the first two definitions were most often enforced through open military conflict, the maintenance of forts or frontier territories, or the more fluid existence of trading networks, these real encounters interacted with a tradition of fictionalizing foreign locations, as well as inventing new and distant lands entirely. This workshop is principally concerned with this process of creating and sensationalizing, to a degree, distant lands in the ancient world, and the ways by which these spaces were represented in literary, religious, and economic texts, as well as being depicted artistically. This process of “othering” foreign lands, as well as those who lived there, speaks to the ways in which the separate civilizations of the ancient world each constructed their own mental maps of the world around them, and created points of both contact and conflict when those mental maps intersected with each other.