Impact of Hellenistic Empires


The Research Group is primarily concerned with the impact of empire on the political organization, social structures, and ideology of local polities of the Ancient Near East in Hellenistic times, on the one hand, and their literary imagination, on the other. The structural changes and historical events affecting Judaea will be both addressed directly and set in their wider, regional and interregional context(s), primarily (but not exclusively) defined as the Seleukid empire at large and Ptolemaic Egypt. Likewise, the question of the relation between, on the one hand, the Hellenistic, imperial setting and its bearings on Judaea and neighbouring polities and, on the other hand, the literary production of the time, will be of central concern. To this end, the Research group intends to bring together historians, social scientists, epigraphists, archaeologists, and text scholars. Although the Research Group will focus on Hellenistic times, its chronological range will also cover Persian and Roman imperial times, and cooperation with Research Groups focusing on these periods as well as on narrowly-defined topics (such as “resistance”) overlapping with the concerns of the Research Group will be considered. 



Hellenistic World, Hellenistic Empires, Social Location of Texts, Empire and Literary Imagination


Benedikt Eckhardt
University of Edinburgh

Sylvie Honigman
Tel Aviv University 

Member Area

Toulouse 2022

For the 2022 conference there will be no open Call for Papers

Impact of Hellenistic Empires will plans to organise three sessions. Participation is by invitation only.

Session I: The Ideology of Peace in an Age of Warfare

It is widely acknowledged that the Hellenistic period saw an unprecedented intensification of warfare, caused by an ever-fragile balance of new imperial powers. Many aspects of Hellenistic society were heavily influenced by war; they range from royal representation (the victorious king) to economic exchange (monetization through military minting) and settlement patterns (new cities as military colonies). All of this has been explored many times. It is less common to investigate the flipside of this development: with everyone boasting about, preparing for or hiding from war, what happened to peace? In the pre-Hellenistic period, concepts of peace and ideologies built around them were prominently discussed in literature and politics – some had been established quite recently (like the Greek κοινὴ εἰρήνη), whereas others had been around for centuries, namely in the Near East. How did the new prevalence of warfare and its ideological exploitation change these discourses? What did people expect from peace, and what role did peace play in their imagination of the future? 

We are hoping for contributions from both Hellenistic historians and biblical scholars, looking at topics such as royal representation, new intellectual concepts of peace, and apocalyptic expectations.

Session II: Language, Identity and Politics in the Hellenistic Near East

Modern discussions of ancient ethnicities and/or identities frequently focus on a narrow set of identity markers – a class of artifacts, a building style, or the language of a document. It is well known that all of these are unreliable: what may appear as distinctive boundary markers to us could have been regarded as unremarkable choices in antiquity; they may even have informed the creation of multiple and overlapping identities that elude our attempts at categorization. We are on safer ground when political powers explicitly define identity markers, but even then, many questions remain. This panel will look at the impact of Hellenistic empires on language and identity formation in the Hellenistic Near East, with a focus on Coele-Syria and Phoenicia. What difference did the introduction of Greek make, and how did Ptolemies and Seleucids differ here? Did “national languages” emerge in reaction to Greek (a process frequently postulated for Hebrew)? Which languages did people actually use, and how mutually intelligible were they? Did Aramaic create a bridge to the pre-Hellenistic past, and was it consciously employed that way?

Possible topics include the choice of language in graffiti from multicultural contexts, the impact of the imperial imposition of Greek, and the use of bilingualism in, e.g., the book of Daniel.

Session III: Special panel on Katell Berthelot’s The Impact of Rome on Judaism

Berthelot, Katell. Jews and their Roman Rivals: Pagan Rome’s Challenge to Israel. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2021.