Petra Pakkanen

Petra001Petra001I am a historian of religion. My first monograph (and PhD) Defining Early Hellenistic Religion. The Mystery Cult of Demeter and the Cult of Isis, Helsinki 1996, deals with two mystery cults and aims at defining particular characteristics of these cults and changes in their nature. After concentrating on Classical and Hellenistic religion I studied the interpretation of archaeological material connected with religion particularly from a theoretical point of view and have written several articles on this theme. My special interest has been in the intriguing question of continuity of cult over periods of time. In 2006 my monograph on the phenomenon of philhellenism was published with the title August Maximilian Myhrberg and North-European Philhellenism. Building the Myth of a Hero, Helsinki 2006. Wandering away from strictly ‘classical’ classical studies to the field of perception and afterlife of classical antiquity, this study is an examination of the process of the formation of heroic biography and its connection to the national awakening of Finland. The work focuses on one of the two known Finnish Philhellenes, and analyses how an idealised classical past can be used for contemporary purposes.

My responsibility in the Kalaureia project is to look at the nature of religion in the sanctuary at large. This task is closely connected with the excavated material but it is important also to ask more theoretical questions about the premises on which religions of the past are defined and to look at how the particular material from Kalaureia may be used in (re-) defining our conceptualisation of ancient Greek religion. My education in ethnographic fieldwork and historical archival studies encourages an approach to analysing the Kalaureian material that encompasses its connections to the more recent past and early modern times of Poros and Kalaureia.