I really love diasporas. It was probably the African diasporas in the Americas that first drew my attention to the importance of the phenomenon, but once you adjust to seeing the world in movement, they show up everywhere. Stable borders dissolve in the churning of peoples.
I don’t often pay much attention to the influence of diasporic movements on Europe much beyond the vital Jewish and Islamic ones, but they are there, of course. I’ve been thinking about that more lately as I look at the diasporas centered in the Near East. Especially if I keep running with Gobekli Tepe as a key node in a very ancient diaspora, it makes sense to look not just at the diaspora southward, but also northward.
There are a few components to that I’m noting presently:
- the exceptional survival of Jewish material in the Slavonic regions and its influence on Russian Orthodox Christianity. (ca. first centuries AD)
- the Thracian involvement in the Greek world, esp. the latter-day movements into the region post-Hittite collapse (ca. 1000 BC forward).
- the upper boundary of Glycon’s cultus lying along the Danube River (ca. 150–300 AD).
- the role played by the Hittites (ca. 1600–1200 BC) in mediating between Mesopatamia and (Eastern and Northern) Europe.
There are some interesting things going on here around waterways, from rivers (Tigris & Euphrates, Danube) to seas (Red, Black, Mediterranean, Caspian).
This started with me noodling around the relationship between texts like Revelation and the eddic account of Ragnorak, but pretty quickly I realized I didn’t know all that much about the Hittites. So, i found a book: Anatolian Interfaces: Hittites, Greeks, and Their Neighbours.
It is a real crowd-pleaser of a book, too. It is the proceedings of a conference, so there are many different topics touched upon, all fairly short but in cogent and well-sourced form that makes deeper digging possible. So much fun! Topics covered include:
- The identity and historicity of figures like Homer and Midas
- The ritual logic behind the diffusion of divine hypostases, using a specific figure, “The Mother of the Night” as a case study.
- A piece that joins the Sumerian GALA figures to the Cybele’s gallae through a series of ritual and linguistic transmissions that pass from Sumer, to the Hittite regions, and into the Mediterranean world (answering a question I have long had about the GALA’s relationship to gallae, so woo-hoo!).
- A study of the relationship between Syrian Kubaba and Cybele.