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Greek colonization, connectivity, and the Middle Sea

from HISTORICAL CASE STUDIES: The Mediterranean world

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2017

Carla Antonaccio
Affiliation:
Duke University, United States
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Summary

ABSTRACT.This contribution analyses the ways in which the Mediterranean, or Middle Sea, enabled and encouraged increased connectivity between the various peoples inhabiting its surrounding coastline and numerous islands. It focuses particularly on the period c. 800–500 BC, when the Greeks and Phoenicians established multiple, overlapping cultural and social networks centered on new maritime settlements.

RÉSUMÉ.Cette contribution analyse de quelles manières la mer Méditerranée, ou mer du Milieu, a permis et encouragé une connectivité croissante entre les différents peuples vivant sur ses côtes et ses nombreuses îles. Elle s'intéresse en particulier à la période allant de c. 800 à 500 av. J.-C., pendant laquelle les Grecs et les Phéniciens établirent, en se chevauchant, de nombreux réseaux culturels et sociaux centrés autour des nouvelles colonies maritimes.

The sea is fundamental to our conception of ancient Greece: its thousands of miles of coastline and dozens of Aegean islands. Trade and settlement overseas are widely accepted as vital aspects of the development of what we conventionally call ‘Greek history’, certainly from the Bronze Age (c. 3200–1200 BC) onward, and especially during the Archaic period (c. 800–500 BC). The very geography of the southern Balkan peninsula and islands of the Aegean Sea are sometimes emphasized as defining factors in the development of the polities and societies of Greece, not only in the historical period but long before. Geographical determinism posits the mountain ranges and limited arable land found in the valleys between them, as well as the limits imposed by shorelines and the separation of islands, as determining factors in Greek history. Indeed, the geography and climate of Greece have been held to account for the distinctiveness of Greek polities and their resistance to unity until at least the Hellenistic period (323–30 BC). Although geographical determinism no longer holds sway, such ideas persist, and we are still changing our perspectives in accord with some simple but profound observations.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

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