Publication details

Modeling the Ptolemaic Cultural Export: A Quantitative Evaluation of the Spread of the Isiac Cults in the West Coast of Hellenistic Asia Minor



Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description During the reign of the first six Ptolemaic kings in Egypt (ca 305-145 BCE), the Isiac cults (i.e. cults related to Egyptian gods Isis and Sarapis) spread first to ports of the ancient Mediterranean and subsequently further into the mainland. This case study focuses on the process of the spread of the Isiac cults in the west coast of Hellenistic Asia Minor where a significant amount of related archaeological evidence is located. During the early Ptolemaic era the west coast of AsiaMinor was deeply involved in Ptolemaic political activities. Some of the cities within this region played the role of allies of the Ptolemaic dynasty while other cities were under direct control of Ptolemaic officials or were garrisoned by Ptolemaic troops. However, there is no evidence suggesting that the Ptolemies systematically promoted the Isiac cults in their possessions in Asia Minor. In order to inspect this process of cultural transmission in detail, this study proposes a mathematical model which based on geographical, political and economic datasets determines which factors were responsible for the dissemination of the Isiac cults in the Hellenistic Asia Minor and which of these factors had more impact than others. The spread of the Isiac cults is within this methodological frame conceptualized as a cultural transmission happening on a transportation network. A successful transmission is then reflected by local archaeological evidence. This case study follows the methodological know-how gathered in the project “Generative Historiography of Religions” realized at Masaryk University (
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