Experts in: Ancient Greece
My main interests have to do with the religion and mentalities of ancient Greece, in the Mediterranean world. I am interested in particular in means of communication between humans and gods, be it through animal sacrifices and the mythical corollary of human sacrifice, or through divination, i.e. ways of determining divine will. The physical context of rituals is also worth studying, in particular sacred woods and their imaginary aspects.
One of my projects is an extensive synthesis on the subject of Greek divination, since the previous one dates to 1879-1882. The Greeks were great believers in divination, and hence there are traces (some major, some minor) of this practice in such areas as politics, philosophy, war, medicine, poetry and religious rituals. Most of the students completing their MA or PhD degrees under my supervision opt (freely!) to study this especially fascinating theme, which incidentally bears some relationship to the current resurgence in superstition, reaching all the way to the political sphere. The theme studied, in recent years, concerns the gap between the literary image of oracles, with their supposedly omnipresent influence in high-level politics, and the epigraphic image that flatly contradicts it. This means reconsidering a large span of Greek history. The use of documents is quite difficult, but is a powerful intellectual and professional training tool. At the same time, I and my team are assembling a database of all the oracles' predictions ever given in the Greek world, which is sure to be very useful in the study of divination.
Through religion and mentalities, I have also looked at the theme of garden history in general, but with an emphasis on antiquity.
Directeur de département, Professeur titulaire
- Colonization and decolonization
- Ancient Greece
- City planning
- Ancient Near East
- Greco-Roman antiquity
- Syrian Arab Republic
My interests concern Greek colonization, colonial urbanization and the relations between Greeks and barbarians. In an attempt to respond to the questions raised by these issues, I am directing two archaeological missions. The first, in Syria, is located in the large Ras al-Bassit bay. This is the ancient Posideion of the Greeks, one of the oldest contact sites from the 1st millennium BC between Greeks and peoples on the Syro-Palestinian coast. The research conducted on this site has given us a better understanding of how contacts developed between Greeks and Orientals and the origins of one of the key periods in art and architecture of ancient Greece, the Orientalizing period.
The second dig site is Argilos, in northern Greece, a region that the Greeks colonized starting in the 8thcentury BC. This was the first Greek colony in the Lower Strymon region, a settlement founded by colonists from the Cycladic island of Andros. Argilos enjoyed tremendous prosperity in the 6th and 5thcenturies BC, and the digs have turned up a number of surprisingly well-preserved buildings, allowing us to study the urban development of a colonial city, the evolution of homes, and contacts and trade with indigenous peoples.
In Montreal, in the Mediterranean Archaeology Laboratory, students and research assistants work on databases relating to these projects and help in the stylistic and chronological analysis of the excavated archaeological materials.