Markers of Northernness in Greek Ethnography and Geography 10-11 December 2022

An international workshop at the Finnish Institute at Athens, 10-11 December 2022

That the Greeks and the Romans held distinct, culturally shared ideas about various peoples north to the Mediterranean zone has long been recognised. What has been perhaps less explored is the way in which the motifs and elements in this ‘ethno(geo)graphic archive’ originated, changed and adapted over the centuries and in response to changing circumstances. How were northern lands and peoples, and indeed the whole northerly cardinal direction, conceptualised in the ancient Greek culture and literary tradition? What made the north ‘North’ for the Greeks? What marked a person, people, or a region as ‘northern’?

This workshop organised by the Finnish Institute at Athens has gathered together a wonderful range of scholars to present on diverse themes of ancient ethnography, geography, and ‘septentriography’ – i.e. writings on the northern parts of the oikoumene – and to discuss the parameters of the Greek perceptions of ‘northernness’ from a variety of perspectives. The programme seeks to delve into the elements that made the North and the northerners stand out as an entity or commonality in the Greek thinking from Homer to Late Antiquity and Byzantium, as well as to bring the different aspects of the septentriographic tradition into a fuller conversation with each other. The workshop is closely connected to the institute’s long-standing and ongoing research interest in the interactions between Nordic regions and the Mediterranean, as well as the Assistant Director Antti Lampinen’s own current research project on ancient ethnography.

The workshop will take place on 10 and 11 December 2022 at the Finnish Institute at Athens (Zitrou 16), and online via Zoom (Zoom-links: day 1, day 2). Presentations are given both in person and remotely. We welcome you most warmly!

The design of the poster and programme: © Karin Eremia Illustration