The research project entitled SANCTUARIES AND CULTS IN THE CYCLADES was approved as part of a research grant of the "Chaire Internationale Blaise Pascal" for 2012/13 which was awarded to Professor Alexander Mazarakis Ainian by the French state and the Regional Council of Ile-de-France. The project, administrated by the Fondation de l′Ecole Normale Superieure, started in October 2012, in collaboration with Paris 1 (Fr. Prost) and the EPHE [UMR 8210 ANHIMA] (Fr. de Polignac) and ended in August 2013. Publications deriving from the project are in progress.The project has been assisted by Dr Jean-Sébastien Gros, who designed the related website and database, Dr Yannis Kalliontzis, responsible for the compilation of the written sources associated with the cults in the Cyclades (mostly the inscriptions referring to cult and cult places) and Olga Kaklamani, responsible for compiling the basic bibliography and most of the descriptive catalogues of the cult places. Dr Alexandra Alexandridou undertook translations of texts into English.
The chronological scope of the project is restricted to the Geometric and Archaic periods, though the developments of the Classical era are largely taken into account, though not in a consistent manner. The Hellenistic and Roman periods have not been included in the compilation of the archaeological data, with the exception of late inscriptions which could refer to possible earlier cults.
The project has two main goals: The first is to assemble all the data related to the "internal" archaeology of the Cycladic sanctuaries. Under the term "internal" we consider the organisation of the sanctuaries (the architectural layout, the individual monuments, the archaeology of the offerings and the finds in general), the divinities worshipped, their groupings, and the methods of recognizing them, the identity of the worshippers (sex, age, social status). Within the same group of topics we wish to tackle questions associated with the beliefs, the manners with which the divinities were honoured, the sacralisation, the sacrifice, the development of the sanctuaries and the cults through time. The change through time of the function of sanctuaries as arenas for competition and status display between local or wider elites is also a matter of interest and may be studied in relation not only to other Greek sanctuaries but also to the contemporary burial customs.
The second axis of the project aims in placing the Cycladic sanctuaries in context. Main issues are the notion of insularity in relation to the sanctuaries, the topography of the sanctuaries, their spatial location, their role as centres of contact and maritime front, not only in the Aegean context but also in the wider Mediterranean, the existing maritime networks, the circulation and distribution of offerings and the mobility of worshippers. Indeed, the Cyclades were a crossroad of maritime travels, and for this reason they have a more diversified character than several "mainland" sanctuaries. The presence of the Cycladic offerings and worshippers and in other sanctuaries of the Greek World is also a matter worth considering. The role of the "insular" sanctuaries in the genesis of the polis is also a major research axis which must be studied in comparison with the parallel developments in other areas of the Greek World.
Such matters are discussed in the volume edited by A. Mazarakis Ainian entitled The Archaic Sanctuaries of the Cyclades, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2017.
Alexander Mazarakis Ainian Professor of Classical Archaeology at the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology at the University of Thessaly