The concept of identity and the concept of a frontier are inextricably intertwined. Indeed the very notion of a 'frontier', a dividing barrier between 'us' and 'them' arises from a polar sense of identity. This concept exists not only in ancient communities, but in the minds of modern scholars who attempt to comprehend frontiers as well. Rarely has scholarship stepped outside the core periphery model which argues that an empire constitutes a core, a transitional zone (=frontier) and the other (=barbarian). A study of ancient sources, both Greek and Roman shows that it is conflict with a foreign power, followed by the establishment of a frontier, that sparks the creation of a hostile or alien 'other'. Moreover, concepts of 'barbarian' differ between the core of the empire and its periphery, although it must be noted that there may not be a defining pattern to these differences; what we are seeing may be individually unique responses which defy any greater generalisations. The idea of the barbarian was dependant on the frontier, and when these frontiers collapsed, as in the Hellenistic Period under Alexander and in late Roman antiquity, people were forced to rethink and remodel their views on just who exactly was 'other'. Nothing illustrates better the link between identity, alterity and the notion of a frontier – a dividing line to separate 'us' from 'them'.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||Ancient history : resources for teachers|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|