AIA-5A: Regional Mobility and the Formation of Early Greek Communities (Colloquium)

  Hybrid   AIA Session   Colloquium


Naoise Mac Sweeney, University of Vienna

Overview Statement

Between the period ca. 1200–550 B.C.E., the ancient Greek world emerged. It comprised diverse Greek communities, scattered across the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The formation of these communities has traditionally been examined through one of two conceptual frames: the rise of the polis on the Greek mainland and in the south-central Aegean; and Greek colonization elsewhere. Both of these frames are problematic in their own ways, as now widely acknowledged in the literature. Alternative ways are now emerging for thinking about the formation of early Greek communities.

One important approach that is beginning to attract more scholarly interest is the role played by regional land-based mobilities. This approach points to a conceptual framework based on urbanization and changes in landscape use, thereby facilitating cross-cultural comparisons rather than reinforcing the idea of the Greek case as unique and exceptional. Furthermore, having often been neglected in studies of migration, trade, and exchange, a new wave of research into regional and land-based mobilities is now emerging as an important complement to more traditional studies of long-distance and maritime movements.

This colloquium session will contribute to this exciting and dynamic area of research, bringing together five papers, each of which shines new light on the issue from a different direction, taking case studies from different parts of the Greek world. The first paper considers how regional mobilities contributed to the formation of local and ethnos communities in East Lokris on the Greek mainland. The second considers how cultural interaction rooted in long-lived regional mobilities in Ionia gradually led to the crystallization of both polis and wider Hellenic identities. The third paper presents a contrast to this, examining how the sudden insertion of new players into existing regional networks in Calabria provided a catalyst for the formation of new communities, both Greek and non-Greek. The fourth takes a different approach to the same region of Calabria, considering both how regional mobilities are represented both in foundation myths and also how they are evident in the mortuary record. The fifth examines environmental evidence for changes in landscape use and farming practices, reminding us that urbanism and rurality are two sides of the same phenomenon.