From the Vantage of the Victory: The Performative Heart of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace
The Victory (Nike) of Samothrace in the Louvre has long captured the imagination of the world, but it becomes all the more powerful when reunited with its spatial, material, historical, religious, and aesthetic environment in the ancient Greek Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace. With the generous support of a Collaborative Research Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we have made this region the center of our current research initiative. From the Nike’s vantage over the performative heart of the Sanctuary—Theater, Stoa, and Altar Court—we reframe the archaeological investigation of this Hellenistic international religious center, grounding our exploration in the rich material record of the region, the dynamic environmental factors underlying it, and the human actions through which it was determined and experienced. Drawing on approaches to space, memory, and identity to investigate cultural interaction and community creation in this evocative place—whose rites were open to all and whose promises were famously valued—our work aims to provide a basis for engaging the spatial and experiential issues at stake in understanding sacred places.