5th International Conference of Mediterranean Worlds-
University of Bern, 9 to 11 September 2013
— Light Colour Line—Perceiving the Mediterranean: Conflicting narratives and ritual dynamics —
Slobodan Dan Paich, Director and Principal Researcher, Artship Foundation, San Francisco
Ambiguity of Center and Periphery and the Middle Sea
Navigational use of birds
In opening we look at ancient methods of finding one's way around and in the known world of the Middle Sea. As any orientation history or archeology are minimal, almost nonexistent, an indirect hint of navigational use of birds may be found in the obscure and little documented comparative history of omphaloi, the earth navel's at Mediterranean oracle centers and their association with feathered, winged creatures.
Maps and boundaries
A brief look at physical and elusive boundaries of the Middle Sea, the map of the cultural influences of the Sea in a middle of a territory extends beyond and is larger and somewhat differently shaped than the geographic map of the Mediterranean. Even the climatic fact of the cultivation of olive, laurel and lemon trees, broadens the map from the shores of the Middle Sea to neighboring seas and watersheds. The pre-classical, ancient Egyptian interest in the accurate alignment of the sanctuaries of the ancient world, points to a waste territory beyond the Nile. Hercules' labors for the classical period, seen as a map of Mediterranean sphere of influences, may offer another model and a starting point. For example, Prometheus chained and liberated at Caucasus reveals to Hercules the location of the Garden of Hesperides on the Atlantic coast. This larger and layered map offers possibilities for comparative and diachronic insights.
Shared Motives of Anatolian city of Hattiusa and Campania's Cumae
An architectural complex at the ancient city of Hattiusa in Anatolia has resemblence to both the entrance to the Antrum of the Sibyl at Cumae and programmatically and physically to the subterranean corridors nearby of the Oracle of the Dead at Baia administerd from Cumae. The aerial photograph of Hattusa reveals, in a broadest possible sense, a resemblance to the arrangements of Paleolithic temples of Malta rather than classical or purely utilitarian designs. All prehistoric temples on Malta face Africa in the southeast direction to Egypt. This raises questions about the fact that pre-classical science, lore and sensitivities cared and were preoccupied with geodetic issues. The 19th century nationalist models of archeological research obscure this underlining matrix of placement of ancient sanctuaries and cities. These shared programmatic intentions over large geographic areas also shed a specific light on Mediterranean cities and sanctuaries. Cumae's acoustic and ritual arrangements, not necessarily follow exact geometry or spatial organization, still resemble ritual intentions at the Hypogeum in Malta and are somewhat echoed and confirmed by the shape and inscriptions of the Room with Hieroglyphs at Hatiusa. These resemblances point to significant sanctury connections in pre-classical times and grounds the Greek style of matitime federations as an offspring and a reaction to more ancient trans Mediteranean paradigms.
Cave's Echoes, Archaic Polyphonic Singing and Harmony of Spheres Traditions
The paper posits possible connection of archaic polyphonic singing to the echoes and overtones found in prehistoric cave. It includes recent research focused on prehistoric cave paintings and markings made by ancient humans signaling the places of significant acoustic phenomenon. These cave resonances are a possible source of a particular form of polyphonic singing only found in Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Albania and Istria in the Mediterranean Basin and Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Anatolia in the Black See Watersheds. The acoustic phenomenon of overtones at the Hypogeum, the Paleolithic temple on Malta points to human made sonic ritual spaces refining and celebrating the natural possibilities of tonal ranges. This writing considers Pythagorean and neo-Pythagorean theories of the Harmony of Spheres that may be traced to the temples of Ancient Egypt and also point to the pan-Mediterranean ritual use of sound and human voice.
Italian Tarantella Pizzica, Egiptian Zar and Greek Dionysian rituals
In looking for traces of discernable training and transmission of knowledge, we shall explore traditions and cultural phenomenon that happened in intimate and protected places often temporally adopted within a home or communal spaces. Beyond archeological fragments of dally life and survival, we focus on the activities, gatherings and festivals led and performed for and by women. Since these events were only carried out among the women, written documentary evidence is barely existent. What does exist are similar oral traditions to those even practiced today in some parts of North Africa, Eastern Mediterranean including Southern Italy and Asia Minor on the border of Iraq and Iran. There are two forms from this family of traditions that had more ethno-musicological and anthropological research than the others, they are the healing dances of Egyptian Zar and Southern Italian Tarantella. S. D. Paich, the author of this paper, in his work Magna Graeca/Tarantella wrote about possible relationships between the southern Italian dance Tarantella, particularly the Pizzica type, and the Dionysian festivals and Pan worship of Magna Graecia and parallel dance ceremonies in the Greater Mediterranean region.
Conclusion - Watershed as Paradigm of the cultural mix of the Middle Sea
Often as historians or cultural historians we view the sea as an expanse of water, scenery framing events or something that is just there. Each ocean and sea has their own characteristics that influence, shape and participate in the making of history. For example, the water currents in the western and eastern Mediterranean are examples of maritime dynamics that aided or hindered flows of trade, populations and ideas. In this light the conclusion offers a short reflection on Scilla and Haribda and the Mediterranean navigability of Ulysses, we explore the gates of Bosporus and the Black Sea of the Argonauts expedition, Western Mediterranean and Atlantic trade routes of the Phoenicians, and the dependence of Venetian prosperity on Indian Ocean winds. As a homage to the host university and the country of this years conference, the paper closes with a short reflection on Titus Burckhardt's work in broadening the field of comparative art history and pioneering the inter-cultural understanding. It points to a number of numinous centers of cultural growth and decline, adding to the richness and ambiguity of multiple centers and overlapping peripheries of cultures facing the Middle Sea.