Online Lecture: link at the museum website
Speaker: Dr. Owen Doonan, California State University - Northridge
Title: Theater of War: Performing Power on the city wall of Ancient Sinope
Abstract: This talk considers the particular case study of the Sinope fortifications in light of broader evidence for the relationship between theater and war in Greek culture. Aeneas Tacticus, How to Survive under Siege (40.4-5) recounts a vivid episode in which the women of Sinope fooled the invading satrap Datames into believing they were male soldiers. The women dressed in armor and clanged pots and pans to deceive the enemy into thinking that the city was protected by a much larger force than they had. The importance of ancient fortification walls derived from the creation of a stage on which power could be performed as much as from their function as defensive infrastructure. A generation or two after the brave women of Sinope turned back Datames an impressive wall complete with large towers, catapult and arrow ports furnished with swinging shutter doors replaced the humble stone and mud brick construction on which they had promenaded. The wall impressed Strabo, who pronounced the town “beautifully walled” among other praise (Strabo, Geogr. XII.iii.11). The dynamic new wall set a dynamic stage for warfare in the Hellenistic age complete with surprise entrances, noisy and dramatic attacks, earth shaking catapults. The defenses failed but once in the rough and tumble world of Hellenistic warfare.