Contextualising “early Colonisation”:
Archaeology, Sources, Chronology and interpretative models between Italy and the Mediterranean
In memory of David Ridgway (1938-2012)
Rome, Valle Giulia
Academia Belgica, Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut, British School at Rome
June, 21-23 2012
June, 21-23 2012
Subject and goal of te conference
The conference Contextualising “early Colonisation” (abbreviated CeC) focuses on the much discussed theme of "early colonisation" of the Italian peninsula and islands by "Greeks" and "Phoenicians" between the ninth and the first quarter of the seventh centuries BC.
The Mediterranean, at the beginning of the first millennium BC, is characterised by a dense network of trade contacts and exchanges of objects and ideas between the Levant, Egypt, Cyprus, the Greek world and the Italian mainland and islands. Italy, in this period, is a melting pot of cultures, and characterised by socio-political entities that mutate and evolve quickly, thanks to the continuing outside influences and the intensification of the exploitation of the vast resources of the metalliferous districts of Tuscany and Sardinia. These factors set in motion important processes of social change and urbanisation, providing the basis for the definition of a material culture that will distinguish Italy, Greece and throughout Western Europe in the following centuries and that, among its many aspects, includes the spread of alphabetic writing.
In this context occur phenomena like “colonisation”, the structuring processes of poleis and, the development of large urban centres such as Rome, whose founding coincides, not by chance, with the time of the first allocation of the Greeks in the West. The historical context is one of cultural and economic contacts between the different social realities that populated the Mediterranean and which have played a major role, universally recognized, but not always considered in its overall concern. The "early colonisation" is, therefore, a phenomenon essential for understanding the history and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean and can, for the reasons set out briefly above, be considered as one of the roots and assumptions of modern European society.
The recent attempt to review and, in some cases, dramatically alter the traditional chronologies, based on the comparison between the archaeological and literary records, has on the one hand renewed interest in these issues, but on the other hand it has also revealed a significant and deep gap between the historical analysis and the archaeological research, the first being little attracted by the discussion and critical reflection of material data and the latter, too often affected by excessive specialization and, favouring a regionalist perspective, discrediting data from outsiders' literary traditions. A dialogue between historians and archaeologists has, therefore, become extremely difficult in recent years, a fact made even more complex by the contrast between theory and methodology of scholars from different "national" schools, and a lack of opportunities to meet and discuss results.
The purpose of the conference is the analysis and discussion of the chronology, sources and archaeological record that form the basis for the interpretation of the processes and impact of the "early colonisation" in Italy, through the confrontation of renowned international scholars, in six thematic sessions, each followed by a thorough discussion. Among the goals that we hope to achieve is healing the gap between different “schools” of thought that grew due to differences in views, but also because of the very few opportunities for immediate confrontation. The conference intends specifically to induce a dialogue between the different perspectives and approaches to the "colonisation" in Italy, hoping that the debate that will emerge can help to overcome some of the major conflicts, and lay the theoretical base for a new dialogue. From this point of view, the CeC is an almost entirely new opportunity to meet, and it is believed, therefore, that this occasion can make a contribution of great importance to the scientific research on the Mediterranean between the ninth and early seventh centuries BC, responding to a need repeatedly lamented by researchers around the world.
With the publication of the proceedings with an international publishing house (Brepols Publishers) the impact and visibility of the CeC will certainly be even more relevant.