A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean

A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean

A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean

A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean

Synopsis

Greek civilization and identity crystallized not when Greeks were close together but when they came to be far apart. It emerged during the Archaic period when Greeks founded coastal city states and trading stations in ever-widening horizons from the Ukraine to Spain. No center directed their diffusion: mother cities were numerous and the new settlements ("colonies") would often engender more settlements. The "Greek center" was at sea; it was formed through back-ripple effects of cultural convergence, following the physical divergence of independent settlements. "The shores of Greece are like hems stitched onto the lands of Barbarian peoples" (Cicero). Overall, and regardless of distance, settlement practices became Greek in the making and Greek communities far more resembled each other than any of their particular neighbors like the Etruscans, Iberians, Scythians, or Libyans. The contrast between "center and periphery" hardly mattered (all was peri-, "around"), nor was a bi-polar contrast with Barbarians of much significance.

Should we admire the Greeks for having created their civilization in spite of the enormous distances and discontinuous territories separating their independent communities? Or did the salient aspects of their civilization form and crystallize because of its architecture as a de-centralized network? This book claims that the answer lies in network attributes shaping a "Small Greek World," where separation is measured by degrees of contact rather than by physical dimensions.

Excerpt

This series is dedicated to reconceptualizing the emergence of Greek communities all around the Mediterranean during the late Iron Age and the Archaic period. The series publishes contributions that encompass archaeological and literary perspectives, applying new methods and theoretical approaches and bringing together old and new evidence, with a special but not exclusive emphasis on the cultural and historical implications of recent archaeological research. While the main focus is on the Archaic period down to the beginning of the fifth century, we do not exclude the fourth century, especially as regards the western Mediterranean. Our aim is to provide a common forum for the convergence of various experiences and traditions in order to articulate new paradigms for the interpretation of the Greek expansion in the ancient Mediterranean in its cultural and political aspects. Our purpose is to elucidate the relevance of the colonial world for the development of Greek culture as a whole and to focus on phenomena that contributed to Greekness in its multiple local variants. Research on diasporas, culture contact, cultural hybridity, and networks in other historical contexts offers new conceptual paradigms to approach the cultural history of the Greeks overseas. In addition, the amount of material evidence available has increased in quantity and quality over the last few decades, thanks to the activity of archaeologists all around the Mediterranean, from Spain to the Black Sea.

Our hope to undermine the divide between “colonial” and “metropolitan Greeks” is admirably furthered by this volume from Irad Malkin. Originating in his Nellie Wallace lectures at Oxford (2005), the author draws on the latest concepts from network theory stemming . . .

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