Measuring the Impact of Ancient Colonization in Central-West Sicily

Author(s): Lela Urquhart

Year: 2017


Studies of ancient colonization in the Mediterranean have principally been concerned with assessing the "impact" of colonization: did the colonization processes of groups like the Greeks and Phoenicians make a significant impact on local native societies among whom they settled, and if so, in what ways? Important as such questions are, they have sometimes overlooked a more basic step: how do we actually measure the "impact of colonization" in the first place? This paper offers a response to that question through the case-study of ancient central-western Sicily. It argues that a good way to examine colonial-indigenous interaction is to isolate an aspect of culture that can be a) observed cross-culturally and temporally; b) measured using material correlates; and c) has interpretive salience. For ancient Sicily, religion best fits those criteria. Applying religious correlates to the archaeological record of Sicily between 900-400 BCE reveals important changes. First, colonization catalyzed shifts in the structure and scale of indigenous religion. Second, in terms of "impact," Greek colonization influenced local religious expression more than Phoenician colonization, particularly after 550 BCE. Third, the perception of this "impact," however, was due to religious modifications made by all groups—indigenous and colonial—to fit changing sociopolitical circumstances.

Cite this Record

Measuring the Impact of Ancient Colonization in Central-West Sicily. Lela Urquhart. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431748)


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): 17063