REVIEW: EPIPHANEIA: A Festschrift for Nuran Şahin

This useful and well-produced book shows that Festschrift culture is very much alive and well in Turkey, with 32 papers dedicated to the excavator of Klaros on themes ranging across archaeology, ancient history, and cultural heritage.

Of most interest to followers of this blog are papers on aspects of Ionian cult practice including a new statue of Kybele flanked by lions from Didyma (Bumke), the harbour sanctuary of Kybele  in Phokaia (Erdoğan), and the cultic and other uses of astragali (Aktaş). In a short but very useful paper, Ulrike Muss articulates why the iconic image of the central cult image (xoanon) of Artemis at Ephesos is indeed an accurate representation of earlier statues. Understandably a number of papers focus on Klaros itself, including its Iron Age terracotta figurines (Doğan-Gürbüzer) and how the site came to be abandoned and then rediscovered by European antiquarians (Moretti). There are also papers on Ionian pottery traditions such as Fikellura from Ayasoluk (Büyükkolancı, Yağız) and Ionian Protogeometric (Zunal).

Perhaps the most interesting and theoretically-informed papers are those by Gülşah Günata and Kenan Eren. Günata critically examines Ionian extra-mural sanctuaries in relation to the theories of François de Polignac, arguing that that de Polignac’s polis-centric model does not work in Ionia, where the presence of Mycenaean pottery at the major temple sites (now including Klaros) shows continuity of pre-polis cult activity, although without demonstrating how Bronze Age pottery alone is evidence of cult. She also shows that dedicatory practices changed over time away from votives that represent the cult identity of the deity towards those that reflect the social identity of the dedicator. In a methodologically innovative approach, Eren contrasts C7th BC votive practices at urban and non-urban temples in Chios and Miletos and finds that their dedicatory practices are consistent with those across the Greek world – namely, conspicuous personal display and consumption, especially of exotic and imported goods.

The contributions are, in their own way, valuable to their respective fields and are well-edited, although the reproduced images are sometimes too small to be legible. Comprising papers in Turkish (19), English (5), German (5), and French (4) the lack of translated abstracts will put some of its most interesting papers beyond casual students who want to integrate Ionia into broader studies of the ancient world. The papers are arranged alphabetically by author name but could have been better ordered by theme. Nevertheless, this is a smashing little book and a fitting way to honour the career of one of the unsung heroes of modern Ionian archaeology.

Alan M. Greaves

Visit the publisher’s website:

EPIPHANEIA: A Festschrift for Nuran Şahin from her Colleagues, Friends and Former Students. O. Zunal et al. (eds).


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