The Business of 'Becoming': Community Formation and Greek Colonization in the Northwestern Mediterranean

Author(s): Catherine Steidl

Year: 2017


In the early 1st millennium BCE, Greek communities sprang up around the Mediterranean, and the West was no exception. As the story goes, Ionian Greeks arrived in southern France and a legendary marriage to the local chieftan’s daughter ensured their acceptance as settlers. From their base at Massalia, they expanded their trading foothold to Emporion on the Catalonian coast, cementing a relationship that was long-attested by the presence of Greek goods on western shores. Whereas rapid ‘Hellenization’ was the narrative that often followed such colonization, the situation in the West was quite different. Historically-identifiable Greek settlements are sparse, and even at those known sites, the make-up of populations and nature of communities is still being called into question. This paper examines the processes of community formation in southern France and northeastern Spain—how community identities took shape, shifted, or resisted when newcomers and locals came into contact—through the lens of repeated and daily practice in cult and domestic contexts. It examines the role played by local communication and connectivity between settlements, and argues that the lack of overt ‘Hellenization’ in this region was in part due to a high level of shared social experience with newcomers far from home.

Cite this Record

The Business of 'Becoming': Community Formation and Greek Colonization in the Northwestern Mediterranean. Catherine Steidl. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431743)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16513