The Project

My project is divided into two parts. The first is essentially focused on historical geography: it seeks to map out the successive boundaries of Attica. Basing myself on primary sources and on archaeological data, I will attempt to determine the legal status of these delimitations, and to show how they were seen by contemporaries. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the second part of my project describes and analyzes the landscape of the borderland, with particular emphasis on the following four points:

  1. a comparative study between the settlement patterns found near the border and those in the rest of Attica;
  2. the borderland as an area of interaction and whether exchanges of commercial, cultural and technological goods with powerful immediate neighbors like Megara, Plataia or Thebes contributed to the creation of a specific borderland facies ;
  3.  the productivity of the border regions of Attica, with emphasis on the exploitation of natural resources;
  4. the religious life of the borderlands, and whether the presence of shrines in such areas betrayed an increased sense of belonging, of religious identity.

Some literary sources furnish precious information on life in the borderlands of Attica. For instance, Aristophanes’s Acharnians describes this people’s beliefs and means of subsistence; in Menander’s Dyskolos, the eponymous protagonist lives and cultivates a hardscrabble piece of land in the border-deme of Phyle; Aristotle and Xenophon both dwell on the ephebes who spend their second year of military service patrolling Attica’s remote and mountainous borders. Cumulatively, the results of my research into these heterogeneous sources will shed new light not only on life in the borderlands and on how the borderland identity was shaped, but also on the extent of the influence and authority exerted by Athens, as well as on the very notion of borders in the Greek world.