SELEUCID SPACE AND IDEOLOGY - P.J. Kosmin The Land of the Elephant Kings. Space, Territory, and Ideology in the Seleucid Empire

12 Mar 2018

This impressive work, a revised version of K.’s doctoral thesis, is an important contribution to the recent boom in Seleucid studies. K. applies spatial theory to the Seleucid kingdom, employing ‘an understanding of space as relational and relative, historically contingent and culturally constructed, with the capacity both to discipline social behaviors and to be molded, manipulated, and resisted by historical agents’ (p. 6). In short, K. explores how the Seleucid kings transformed their vast, disparate kingdom into a coherent, manageable space, bounding their territory through rituals and treaties and articulating its interior through royal movement and colonisation. In so doing, he moves away from reductive questions about the Seleucid empire’s structural ‘strength’ or ‘weakness’ to excavate the kingdom’s ideological underpinnings. The study spans the whole chronological scope of the empire and exploits a remarkably wide range of archaeological and textual evidence throughout.