Attic Bell Bottoms: Hellenism and Hybridity in the Caucasus

A paper by Hilary Gopnick, Monash University, for the Ancient World Seminar at 1:00 on Monday 17 September in room 224, South Theatre, Old Arts.

Sometime between 400 and 200 BCE, either shortly before or shortly after Alexander brought down the Persian Empire, somebody dragged huge limestone blocks from a distant quarry to the top of the hill at Oǧlanqala in Naxçivan, Azerbaijan and began to carve them into column bases and drums.  Some of these column elements fit squarely with our knowledge of Hellenistic Greek architecture, but others are a peculiar and unique amalgamation of forms from the warring Achaemenid Persian and Hellenistic worlds.  Before the columns were raised, the construction site was abandoned, leaving the whole project unfinished and forgotten.  I will use the evidence from this unfinished building, excavated by a team from the University of Pennsylvania and Emory University, to evaluate the nature of the Hellenization of material culture that has marked our understanding of the immediate post-Achaemenid period.  Does Hellenistic hybridity take on a different meaning if it incorporates a fundamental symbol of Achaemenid centralized control like the bell-shaped base?