The Perioikic Mediterranean? Fragmented Connections Between Ritual Territories

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationResearch


Given as part of the panel 'Exploring Sparta's Presence in the Mediterranean', abstract as follows: 'This paper explores the ritual connections that existed between Spartan territory and the Mediterranean. It specifically considers the role that the perioikoi played within this matrix. Malkin’s classic work (1994) analyses Spartan territorial aetiology with minimal attention to territory itself. Conversely, recent research has demonstrated documented Spartan engagement in the Mediterranean world (Coudin 2009; Schaus 2020). This study therefore considers the ritual networks of the ‘Spartan Mediterranean’ from an explicitly territorial perspective. I understand territory as a ‘structural effect’ which provides an effective means of grouping together disparate phenomena. I also employ Horden and Purcell’s (2000) concept of ‘fragmentation’ to understand both the physical structure of religion, and how different religious and cult systems interact with one another. In particular, I consider how the concept of fragmentation can contribute to an understanding of Sparta’s dependent populations, the helots and perioikoi. I conclude, from an analysis of significant votive categories (e.g. Lakonian black-gloss) and assemblages (e.g. Sparta, Samos, Miletos), that within Spartan territory the perioikoi maintained their own religious lives and cults, potentially acting as either a support or a challenge to Spartiate power. The maintenance of this limited range of ritual independence, contingently supported by social and economic networks, provided a basis for perioikic engagement in Mediterranean religious networks. Crucially, this is form of interaction had no necessary connection to Spartiate power. Therefore, I ultimately question the extent to which we should interpret these wider connections as part of a ‘Spartan’, ‘Lakonian’, or ‘perioikic’ Mediterranean.
Period6 Jan 2023
Event titleArchaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting 2023
Event typeConference
LocationNew Orleans , United States, LouisianaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Sparta
  • Mediterranean
  • Perioikoi
  • Economic History
  • Connectivity