The role of texts in the stabilization of pan-Mediterranean religious networks: A case study in geospatial computational modeling of ancient religious history


KAŠE Vojtěch GLOMB Tomáš PAPOUŠEK Dalibor

Year of publication 2017
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description It has been repeatedly suggested that the documented spread of Christianity through the Roman world in the first three centuries CE reveals a number similarities with the documented spread of the cult of Isis and Sarapis through the same area a century or two earlier. We also know that both Christian churches and Isiac temples maintained translocal relationships and in that way formed a pan-Mediterranean network. However, while the Christian network continued to blossom, it seems that the Isiac network started to crash soon after it reached its maximum extent. We hypothesise that although both Christians and adherents of the cult of Isis and Sarapis maintained a Mediterranean-wide social network, Christian adoption of texts in a form of codex as a basic tool of communication made for them easier to operate in a long-run as a global entity. We expect that this would be of special significance especially in times of population decrease or economic crisis, i.e. under the conditions arising in the Empire repeatedly from the end of the second century onward. To move the discussion on a solid ground, we use the methods of network analysis and computational modeling to evaluate comparatively the potential impact of selected factors (exchange of texts in a form of codex, social structures, transportation availability) upon the stability of the pan-Mediterranean networks maintained by the two respected traditions. In that respect, instead of seeking the main reasons for the final success of Christianity in its belief system or in the altruistic behavior of its adherents, we find support for the hypothesis which sees the main advantage of Christianity in the medium it adopted for maintaining its pan-Mediterranean social ties: i.e. the book in the form of codex.
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