Colonization in the Ancient Mediterranean

Colonization in the Ancient Mediterranean

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Colonization of the ancient Mediterranean had been taking place since the Bronze Age, especially with Minoan and Mycenaean expansion, but it was the Phoenicians from the 10th century CE that really took the whole idea to a new level. The great Phoenician cities like Tyre established trading posts across the Mediterranean and some of these eventually became such famous places as Carthage and Palermo. From the 8th century BCE, the Greeks started to join the fun and established their colonies in Sicily, southern Italy, and even the Black Sea. Consequently, the food, politics, and cultural practices of the eastern Mediterranean spread further and further west.

The Phoenicians were great traders and great navigators, and this combination of skills almost inevitably resulted in them establishing colonies wherever they went.

A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean. Greeks Overseas

Irad Malkin’s latest book, A Small Greek World, views the phenomenon of Greek colonization from the perspective of network theory, one of the new theoretical models finding traction amongst scholars of the ancient world. It is the first volume in a new series from Oxford, Greeks Overseas, which, according to the editors, “is dedicated to reconceptualizing the emergence of Greek communities all around the Mediterranean during the late Iron Age and the Archaic period…encompass[ing] archaeological and literary perspectives, applying new methods and theoretical approaches and bringing together old and new evidence…”(ix). Malkin’s work meets and exceeds these lofty goals, making it a worthy volume to inaugurate what promises to be an important series.

The first chapter is devoted to an overview of network theory with particular attention to those themes and ideas that are being utilized within the discipline of Classics. The concept of the network, for Malkin, “is not just a metaphor but a descriptive and heuristic term…the first goal of this book is to identify the phenomenon of network formation. Its second, and more suggestive one is an interpretation of its implications. Identifying networks and their overlaps involves much of the more familiar historical research and reconstruction, well known to historians of antiquity” (16). This chapter is, in my opinion, the most valuable part of the book. This chapter should be consulted by anyone interested in the use of network analysis in studies of the ancient world. I think, however, that Malkin is too quick to dismiss other theoretical models and frameworks in this chapter. Hybridity, for example, a concept which other archaeologists and ancient historians have used with some profit, is set aside because it “has too many biological connotations and, again, is obscure and as such means little” (47). I would have preferred that Malkin engaged more directly with such alternative models, not necessarily because I was unconvinced by his conceptual model, but because elucidating the relative strengths and weaknesses of the alternatives would have very explicitly underlined the benefits of the model he espouses here. In emphasizing the significance of Chapter 1, I do not mean to detract from the rest of the text, which is devoted to case studies of various aspects of ancient colonization, and which contains much of value. In particular, the case studies do add significant nuance to the center-periphery model, which has been somewhat overworked. The particular cases Malkin presents are ones which involve “linking network dynamics and actual space” and which “revolve around the creation of the permanent nodes that allowed for network connectivity, namely, Greek colonies” (17).

Chapter 2, “Island Networking and Hellenic Convergence,” focuses on the island of Rhodes and the Greek settlement of Naukratis in Egypt. Malkin analyzes the influences that impacted the development of shared identities on both the regional and the larger Hellenic levels. He argues that a coherent Rhodian identity emerged as a result of interactions with overseas settlements populated by Rhodians, an effect he terms a “back-ripple”. One place at which this effect was specifically articulated was the colony of Naukratis, a settlement in which the three Rhodian poleis were tied together into the larger category of “Rhodian”. Thus, at the same time as Rhodian identity was being influenced at home by the effects of the “back-ripple”, Greek colonial efforts overseas led to the emergence of a shared Hellenic identity that was most explicitly articulated in colonies such as Naukratis. Malkin does occasionally push the evidence too far, however I was unconvinced by his claim that the port site at Vroulia “could easily” have served all three Rhodian poleis. Asserting that it was possible does not make it so, and no specific archaeological evidence is cited to support the claim (76-77).

The idea of convergence – albeit in a reversed fashion – continues into the next chapter, “Sicily and the Greeks.” Malkin convincingly claims that the emergence of a Sikeliote identity was the result of the presence of Greeks from many different poleis on the island and their interactions with one another in this colonial context. In Malkin’s view, the altar of Apollo Archegetes at the site of the destroyed city of Naxos in Sicily played a pivotal role in the development of a distinctive Sikeliote identity, and Naxos thus emerges as a point of convergence for the inhabitants of the Greek colonies on Sicily. This Sikeliote identity was then, according to Malkin, reinforced in an ongoing dialogue between the Greek cities of Sicily and the great Panhellenic centers of Olympia and Delphi, with the Sicilian theoroi acting as a “ritual intermediary” (110). Malkin views Delphi as being of particular significance in this formulation, due to the significance of the Delphic oracle as a topos in so many of the foundation stories of the Greek colonies (114).

Chapter 4, “Herakles and Melqart,” continues the focus on Sicily, and is an updated version of an earlier article by Malkin on the same topic. 1 Here Malkin undertakes an analysis of the cults of the Greek hero/god Herakles and the Tyrian Phoenician Melqart with particular reference to western Sicily. In Malkin’s framework the syncretic Herakles/Melqart acts as a mediating figure not only between the Greeks and Phoenicians but also between these groups and the indigenous peoples of western Sicily. According to Malkin, this mythical framework provides a medium by which a level of acculturation is reached between the indigenous inhabitants of a region and more recent immigrants in the disputed geographical area of western Sicily. As such, western Sicily functioned as a “middle ground,” defined as “a field with some balance of power in which each side plays a role dictated by what it perceives to be the other’s perception of it, resulting from mutual misrepresentation of values and practices” (46).

In Chapter 5, “Networks and Middle Grounds in the Western Mediterranean,” Malkin turns his attention to the settlements associated with the city of Phokaia in Asia Minor. The incredibly large number of settlements, the extent of the area settled, and the extended period of time in which these settlements were founded and flourished was a phenomenon that drew attention to these colonies even in ancient literary sources. Here once again Malkin sees the Phokaian colonies in southern France and eastern Spain functioning as a middle ground, “forming local, intensive clusters with a few significant links to long-distance Mediterranean networks” (45). The center of this Phokaian network, he argues, was not Phokaia nor any of the many colonies involving Phokaians, but rather the Mediterranean itself, an argument that forms a crucial part of the book as a whole: “The ‘center’ was the entire Archaic Mediterranean, free from any mare nostrum claims. It was multiethnic, multicultural, and, most important, multidirectional. ‘Greece’ was no central place radiating outward. The perspective needs to be reversed: the ‘Greece’ of our own abstraction had evolved from the network, the result of both outward and backward currents along the network lines” (164).

The Phokaian network explored in Chapter 5 serves as the basis for Chapter 6, “Cult and Identity in the Far West,” in which Malkin explores the development of interrelated levels of identity in the western Mediterranean (most specifically in southern France and in Spain). Just as the syncretic relationship between Herakles and Melqart was of particular significance in the middle ground of western Sicily, Malkin notes the importance of the cult of Ephesian Artemis in the Phokaian colonies of the western Mediterranean. He identifies at least five levels of identity at work in this region, beginning with the polis and moving upwards through Phokaian, regional, Ionian, and finally Hellenic identities. The result of the interaction of these various levels of identity, as well as the interactions of Greek actors with the non-Greek peoples of the western Mediterranean, was the development of a “stabilizing, conservative dynamic of networks… While in other colonies and poleis emphasis and form could vary greatly, the reverse was true in the far west. It is precisely the ‘missionary,’ mediating function of the cult that kept the prominence, form, and customs associated with the goddess as conservative as possible…It is the network that solidifies the cult, a dynamic characteristic of decentralized networks in general” (202).

Malkin handles a wide variety of different types of evidence with aplomb, but while he does discuss some archaeological evidence the case studies are based primarily upon historical arguments. In particular, I wished for more specific figures concerning the trade in material objects in the areas under discussion, which would have enabled a detailed analysis of the spread of the networks on the ground, so to speak. For example, Malkin references a commercial network amongst the Phokaian colonies in eastern Spain and southern France, offering as evidence two inscribed lead tablets. He argues that the commercial network spans people of numerous different backgrounds, including Etruscans, Phokaian Greeks, and indigenous inhabitants of the area, amongst others. Given that Malkin has already characterized the area as a cultural middle ground, the inclusion here of specific archaeological data concerning what we know about goods being traded in the area would have enhanced the discussion.

In terms of production the book is generally well done. The maps that are included are quite useful, although one might have wished for a few more specific maps keyed to particular areas of analysis, rather than having to scour the more general ones for the relevant information. I noticed a few errors and inconsistencies in the text, but they do not detract from the overall structure of what is a well-written volume.

I did notice what seemed to be a level of uneasiness about the audience for the book, which might perhaps be a factor of it being the inaugural volume of the series. On the one hand, Malkin assumes a decent level of familiarity with various scholarly discourses in Classics surrounding the phenomenon of colonization, the formation of ethnic identities, and even some other, more specialized, debates such as that surrounding the gods of Naukratis in the postscript to chapter 2. On the other hand, he takes the time and effort to gloss basic terms and concepts with which I would expect most readers to be familiar. 2 While not a major deterrent, this was occasionally distracting.

These quibbles aside, this book is a major achievement. It is thoughtful and stimulating, and will hopefully – as Malkin himself notes on page 224 – provide a useful conceptual framework for advancing studies of any number of specific areas of Greek history, language, and culture. Not only should this volume become essential reading for anyone interested in Greek colonization, the processes of identity formation, and the history of the Archaic Mediterranean, but students of the ancient Greek world in general should also find much of interest.

1. Malkin, I. (2005), “Herakles and Melqart: Greeks and Phoenicians in the Middle Ground,” in Cultural Borrowings and Ethnic Appropriations in Antiquity. Oriens et Occidens 8, E. Gruen (ed.), Stuttgart: 238-57. See, however, the criticisms of Carla Antonaccio (which, to be fair, were probably published too late for Malkin to respond to directly here): Antonaccio, C.M. (2010), “(Re)defining Ethnicity: Culture, Material Culture, and Identity,” in Material Culture and Social Identities in the Ancient World, S. Hales and T. Hodos (eds.), Cambridge: pp. 32-53.

2. For example: “temenos,” “proxenos,” and “apoikia”, among other terms, and concepts such as Apollo being worshipped at Delphi and Zeus at Olympia (92) or the age of Sicilian tyrants being “mostly during the fifth century” (99).

Ancient World History

Starting in the eigth century b.c.e. the Greek city-states planted colonies throughout the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Black Seas for the purpose of trade, acquisition of resources, and relief from population growth, famine, and drought.

In the 700s b.c.e. the Greeks established colonies in Sicily, southern Italy, Egypt, and the Middle East. The colonies in Egypt and the Middle East extended trade routes to the major civilizations in those areas.

In 700� b.c.e. Greece continued to found colonies in Sicily and Italy but also expanded into Thrace, the Hellespont, and Bosporus along the Black Sea, and North Africa. During the 600s b.c.e. the Greeks moved farther into the western Mediterranean.

One of the primary causes for Greek colonization was food. As the population of a polis (city) grew, the polis experienced trouble growing enough food for the population because of a lack of land.

The lack of food led to a willingness of the people to leave the city in search of land. In times of famine or drought people were also willing to leave the polis. The polis would also found colonies in areas where the colonist could trade for items that the polis needed.

The mother polis would provide items such as pots, oil, tools, or weapons that the locals wanted, while the locals would provide wood, metals, and food in exchange. Colonists were also, at times, exiles from their polis. The majority of the colonists were males.

Initially, a Greek colony was made up of people from a single polis. Their loyalty and ties to the polis they came from were not necessarily very strong. Instead, the colonists had a stronger loyalty to the man who had led them to the site of the new colony.

The leader was called the oikist. The oikist was responsible for bringing fire from the original polis’s hearth to the colony to show its connection to the founding polis.

Upon founding of the colony, the oikist would be the leader of the city until his death. Before an expedition could set out for the chosen site, the oikist would visit the oracle at Delphi to see if the god Apollo approved of the new colony or not.

There were several criteria used to determine what would be a good site for the colony. The site needed to have fertile land that the colonist could use to grow food. The colony also needed a good anchorage and needed to be defensible. The area chosen for the colony might be uninhabited.

However, if there was a local population, the colony might choose to cohabitate with the local population or conquer them by force. Once the colonists arrived at the site, they would make a sacrifice to the gods and say prayers over the site.

A plan would then be created for distribution of land to the colonists and to determine the layout of the city. The plan also made provisions for future growth on the new polis. The new colony normally carried over the traditions, religion, and laws of its founding polis, and the two cities normally favored each other in trading.

The earliest colony has been dated at approximately 775 b.c.e. and was founded on the island of Pithecusae, which is about six miles off the Bay of Naples. It was founded to facilitate trade with the Etruscans. In the 730s b.c.e. the Greeks started colonizing Sicily, including founding the city of Syracuse (by Corinth) in 734 b.c.e.

At this time the Greeks were also busy colonizing the coast of southern Italy. This area, Sicily, and southern Italy would come to be called Magna Graecia (Big Greece). Among the colonies in this area was the only one founded by Sparta, Taras (later known as Tarentum) in 706 b.c.e.

Toward the end of the 700s and into the 600s b.c.e. the Greeks colonized the northern coast of the Aegean Sea in Thrace. This area offered timber, gold, silver, grain, and slaves for trade back to the Greek polis.

During the 600s b.c.e. the Greeks colonized the Hellespont and Bosporus area, including the colony of Byzantium (later to be known as Constantinople and Istanbul), which was founded c. 667 b.c.e. From here the Greeks began colonizing the Black Sea from the mid-seventh to the sixth century b.c.e.

The Greek colonies tended to be on the west and north coasts of the Black Sea. These coasts provided a sheltered port for the colonies because of the rivers that emptied into the Black Sea. Among the colonies founded here was Odessus (modern-day Odessa in the Ukraine).

Ancient Greek Colonization

Greeks have moved from their home land at different times and established settlements. Most of Greek settlements were established in the 8th, 7th and 6th century BC. According to Greek writers, causes of the establishment of some settlements were: an escape before the conqueror, the political struggle, the desire for conquest, the Delphic oracle advice.

Individuals have been forced by personal reasons: misery, unhappiness, felony, adventure and more. But the main reason for establishing settlements was overcrowded home city. Classical Greek colonization was preceded by precolonizational period. In which, the sailors and traders formed connection with the foreign world, founded merchant base in foreign countries, individually emigrated and spontaneously prepared the ground for organized colonization.

The classical procedure for establishing the Greek colonies was ask Delphic oracle for the advice about everything. From the metropoly (home city) it had been moved under the guidance of oikos (usually one, sometimes more). When the land is occupied for settlement, the terrain was measured, the place of the temple determined, and the land was classified according to the position and work ability. Each settler received his own “kleros” which included the ground for the construction of houses and land for processing.

The relation of settlements to the metropoly was regularly marked by loyalty, the relationship of the child to his mother. Sometimes the settlement interrupted connections with the metropolis, and sometimes there was a hostility between them. Blood ties, the same cults and traditions were respected, but the economic interests were more important. Greek settlers were regularly culturally developed than natives in whose land they came so they culturally influenced them.

Cumae was the first real colony founded by Chalcis and Cumaes.

Colonialism and Migration in the Ancient Mediterranean

People and their material culture have moved across the Mediterranean since early prehistory. By the early first millennium BC, a crucial change occurred when people began to establish permanent settlements overseas and migrated in substantial numbers. This review focuses on the critical centuries of the Iron Age to examine how thinking about colonialism and migration in the Mediterranean has changed in recent decades. Because Mediterranean and Classical archaeology have always paid more attention to the colonial settlements founded than to the people who migrated, this review begins with an examination of colonial terminology to assess its conceptual roots and the influences of modern colonialism and nationalism. This leads to a discussion of approaches to migration and colonialism in recent decades and consideration of present postcolonial views of colonial situations and (material) culture. The review concludes with a brief survey of potential connections between migration studies and Mediterranean colonialism.

Trade in the Ancient Mediterranean: Private Order and Public Institutions

From around 700 BCE until the first centuries CE , the Mediterranean enjoyed steady economic growth through trade, reaching a level not to be regained until the early modern era. This process of growth coincided with a process of state formation, culminating in the largest state the ancient Mediterranean would ever know, the Roman Empire. Subsequent economic decline coincided with state disintegration. How are the two processes related?

In Trade in the Ancient Mediterranean, Taco Terpstra investigates how the organizational structure of trade benefited from state institutions. Although enforcement typically depended on private actors, traders could utilize a public infrastructure, which included not only courts and legal frameworks but also socially cohesive ideologies. Terpstra details how business practices emerged that were based on private order, yet took advantage of public institutions.

Focusing on the activity of both private and public economic actors—from Greek city councilors and Ptolemaic officials to long-distance traders and Roman magistrates and financiers—Terpstra illuminates the complex relationship between economic development and state structures in the ancient Mediterranean.

"[Terpstra's] case studies are valuable and thought-provoking contributions to ongoing debates about trade practice in the ancient world."—Miko Flohr, Sehepunkte

“This is the most sophisticated theoretically informed analysis of ancient Mediterranean trade from the Phoenicians to the fall of Rome. Historians, economists, and political scientists are in Terpstra’s debt.”—Walter Scheidel, Stanford University

“Terpstra takes on some of the big ideas in economic history with the critical eye of an ancient historian.”—J. G. Manning, Yale University

Related Books

Colonization in the Ancient Mediterranean - History

In the period from the 8th to the 6th century B.C. a great number of new cities were founded along the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. These new cities were part of a colonization movement sponsored by city-states in Greece and Phoenicia. The Greek colonies (apoikiai) were established in a sophisticated and elaborate process of transplanting people and customs from the motherland to a new overseas site. Although the newly formed poleis (city-states colonies) were institutionally and politically independent of their mother cities (metropoleis) these colonies oriented themselves toward and modeled themselves after their founders. Although the relationship was sometimes cooperative and other times competitive, both colony and mother-city cultivated the relationship in numerous ways, politically as well as culturally. As a consequence of this activity, the Greek world expanded significantly moreover, the network of political, religious, and personal loyalties and identities between the various Greek cities was strengthened.

There were various reasons for the colonization movement in the archaic period (750 -490 BC). The lack of natural resources in Greece, especially the lack of metals (tin, copper), timber and food (cereals and fish) led many maritime states to search for such items throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. The search for such materials also provided the Greek states with information about favorable places for agriculture and settlement. More importantly in the long run were demographic pressures in the cities of the homeland. Competition for the control of the best sites led to destructive conflicts between the Greek cities themselves and between the Greeks and Phoenicians and Etruscans. Finally, domestic strife (stasis) in the mother city and foreign pressure (e.g., the expansion of the Persian Empire) forced many communities to seek salvation through the foundation of a colony.

Typically the mother city resolved to found a new colony and organized the effort but sometimes single persons or groups within the polis were responsible. The founder of the colony (oikistes) first had to be identified so too did the settlers themselves. The motives of the colonists varied and not all migrated voluntarily to the new world. Even settlers from other city-states could join the new colony. The oracle of Delphi was usually consulted before the move. Indeed Delphi not only lent religious authority to what was clearly a difficult decision, but also provided important information on possible sites and may also have attempted to define spheres of influence. Planning was important: The selected site was carefully surveyed and the new cities were laid out on a geometrical pattern. The original colonists received roughly equal shares of urban and agricultural land (klaroi).

The relationship between the colonists and indigenous peoples evolved in different ways. Sometimes a symbiotic relationship developed that allowed for peaceful trading and set in motion a process of Hellenization. Sometimes the colonies asserted themselves militarily and expanded their territory aggressively. For a variety of reasons, including internal strife, local resistance and unfavorable location, some colonies failed miserably. Colonization in the West came to an end in 540 BC when a coalition of Etruscans and Carthaginians defeated a Greek fleet in the sea battle of Alalia (off the coast of Corsica), and in the East as the Persians solidified their control of the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea.

Colonization was characterized by intense competition between individual Greek states (among many conflicts, for example, Croton utterly destroyed its Greek neighbor Sybaris) and between the Greeks and the Phoenicians / Carthaginians. At stake was not only access to resources (grain, fish, metals, etc.), but also opportunities to ease the demographic pressures in the homeland. To judge by the archaeological evidence, colonization contributed to the urbanization of the Mediterranean generally, raised standards of living, and facilitated the spread of Greek culture and ideas.

This module is developed in four sections:

  • In Section 1, we examine the broader pattern of colonization across the Mediterranean.
  • In Section 2, we consider the natural resources or lack thereof that encouraged exploration and colonization.
  • In Section 3, we look more closely at the two areas where colonization was most dense.

In the Section 4, we consider two examples of how colonies became in turn the mother city to yet more colonies.

Ancient Mariners of the Mediterranean

With 95 percent of the seafloor not yet explored, oceanographers and maritime archaeologists look to the deep waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas for shipwrecks that can be used to tell the story of ancient civilizations throughout the region.

Anthropology, Earth Science, Oceanography, Social Studies, Economics, World History

This lists the logos of programs or partners of NG Education which have provided or contributed the content on this page. Partner

The study of oceanography brings many different fields of science together to investigate the ocean. Despite increased research and advances in technology, the depths of the ocean remain mostly unexplored. Archaeology is the study of human history using the material remains, or artifacts, of a culture. Artifacts help reveal a particular group’s culture, including their economies, politics, religions, technologies, and social structure. Maritime, or underwater, archaeologists study artifacts and sites submerged in lakes, rivers, and the ocean. While many land-based archaeological finds have already been studied, the ocean depths contain countless new sites and artifacts yet to be discovered.

As ancient people began to develop civilizations, or urban settlements with complex ways of life, extensive trade routes formed throughout the Mediterranean. The eastern Mediterranean and Aegean seas formed an important crossroads of trade and travel in the ancient world. By exploring shipwrecks from this region, researchers learn more about the people who lived there throughout history, as far back as 1000 BCE, when Greek civilization was on the rise. Oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard works with maritime archaeologists to explore ancient shipwrecks throughout the Mediterranean. By studying these ancient wrecks, the history and culture of the region’s ancient civilizations can be better understood.

Finding and excavating ancient shipwrecks in the deep ocean requires the use of advanced technology, including sonar and ROVs. Once wrecks are located using sonar, ROVs with cameras are used to observe them. One way to determine the historical time period the shipwreck came from is to identify key artifacts. In the ancient world of the Mediterranean region, one such key artifact is an amphora, a clay jar that was used to transport goods like olive oil, grain, and wine. By viewing video footage captured by the ROVs, expert archaeologists observe the shape and style of the amphorae to determine approximately where and when they were used. The shape of an amphora’s base can vary from well-rounded or barrel-shaped to conical. Its neck can appear separate from the base or as one continuous piece. An amphora’s handles can fall vertically or be more rounded. The stamps and designs, such as ribbing, used on amphorae indicate different regions and time periods in which the jars and their contents came.

Using archaeological evidence, including amphorae, scientists determined that most of the shipwrecks found in the Mediterranean region are from the CE, being no more than two thousand years old. That makes shipwrecks like the one Ballard’s team discovered in the deep Aegean Sea such a remarkable find. Based on the ribbed, conical-shaped amphorae from the wreck, the ship was likely transporting goods to and from the Greek island of Samos during the Archaic period of Greece (seventh century BCE), says archaeologist and ceramics expert Andrei Opait. This was two hundred years before the Classical period of Greece (fifth century BCE), when Plato and Socrates were living and Greek maritime power dominated the region. If Opait’s theory is correct, the wreck would be the oldest ship ever discovered in the Aegean Sea. According to Ballard, this shipwreck is just one of thousands yet to be discovered in the depths of the Mediterranean.

Why is the discovery and exploration of ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean such an important part of understanding the history and culture of the ancient world?

In the ancient world, ocean trade and travel was the safest, fastest, and most economical method to move goods, people, and ideas from one place to another. The Mediterranean and Aegean seas were at the crossroads of trade and travel throughout the region. As a key component of early civilizations, maritime culture and history are revealed through shipwrecks and are essential to understanding how these ancient civilizations lived.

Of the shipwrecks that have been discovered throughout the Mediterranean, most are from the Common Era. What are two of the ancient civilizations that would have traded and traveled using these ships?

Roman, Byzantine

Alexander the Great reigned over the Greek Empire after the Archaic and Classical periods of Greece. In which period and century of Greek civilization did Alexander the Great live?

Alexander the Great lived in the Hellenistic period of Greece during the 4th century BCE (Before Common Era).

  • The average depth of the Mediterranean Sea is 3,000 meters (9,840 feet), with its deepest point at approximately 5,000 meters (16,400 feet).
  • When broken down into its Greek root words, the term “archaeology” literally means “study of the ancient,” from arkhaios, meaning ancient, and logia, meaning study of.
  • The excavation of the Cape Gelidonya shipwreck off the south coast of Turkey in the 1960s was an important event for the field of maritime archaeology for three main reasons: It was the first excavation where the supervising archaeologist, George Bass, both dove to and excavated a site it was the first time where land-based archaeological techniques were adapted for the underwater environment and it was the first shipwreck to be entirely excavated.
  • The Nautilus Expedition uses state-of-the-art remote sensing and satellite communication technology to connect researchers across the globe. These technologies allow researchers at sea aboard the E/V Nautilus to send data and high-definition images to the Inner Space Center (mission control) in Rhode Island within 1.5 seconds.

large, oval-shaped storage vessel with two handles, often used in antiquity.

study of human history, based on material remains.

material remains of a culture, such as tools, clothing, or food.

(Before the Common Era) designation for the years before the year 1, or 1 CE.

Common Era. CE designates the years following 1 BCE, including the current year.

complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.

remotely operated vehicle.

method of determining the presence and location of an object using sound waves (echolocation).

the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

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Ancient Greece

Ancient Greek politics, philosophy, art and scientific achievements greatly influenced Western civilizations today. One example of their legacy is the Olympic Games. Use the videos, media, reference materials, and other resources in this collection to teach about ancient Greece, its role in modern-day democracy, and civic engagement.

Ancient Shipwrecks of the Black Sea

Due to very low levels of oxygen at shallow depths, Black Sea shipwrecks are well preserved when compared to other Mediterranean wrecks from the same time period. Oceanographers and maritime archaeologists look to the waters of the Black Sea for shipwrecks that can be used to uncover the history and culture of ancient civilizations throughout the region.


Archaeology is the study of the human past using material remains. These remains can be any objects that people created, modified, or used.

First Rulers of the Mediterranean

The ancient Phoenicians built a maritime civilization around the Mediterranean Sea.

Related Resources

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greek politics, philosophy, art and scientific achievements greatly influenced Western civilizations today. One example of their legacy is the Olympic Games. Use the videos, media, reference materials, and other resources in this collection to teach about ancient Greece, its role in modern-day democracy, and civic engagement.

Ancient Shipwrecks of the Black Sea

Due to very low levels of oxygen at shallow depths, Black Sea shipwrecks are well preserved when compared to other Mediterranean wrecks from the same time period. Oceanographers and maritime archaeologists look to the waters of the Black Sea for shipwrecks that can be used to uncover the history and culture of ancient civilizations throughout the region.


Archaeology is the study of the human past using material remains. These remains can be any objects that people created, modified, or used.

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The Returns of Odysseus : Colonization and Ethnicity

This remarkably rich and multifaceted study of early Greek exploration makes an original contribution to current discussions of the encounters between Greeks and non-Greeks. Focusing in particular on myths about Odysseus and other heroes who visited foreign lands on their mythical voyages homeward after the Trojan War, Irad Malkin shows how these stories functioned to mediate encounters and conceptualize ethnicity and identity during the Archaic and Classical periods. Synthesizing a wide range of archaeological, mythological, and literary sources, this exceptionally learned book strengthens our understanding of early Greek exploration and city-founding along the coasts of the Western Mediterranean, reconceptualizes the role of myth in ancient societies, and revitalizes our understanding of ethnicity in antiquity.

Malkin shows how the figure of Odysseus became a proto-colonial hero whose influence transcended the Greek-speaking world. The return-myths constituted a generative mythology, giving rise to oral poems, stories, iconographic imagery, rituals, historiographical interpretation, and the articulation of ethnic identities. Reassessing the role of Homer and alternative return-myths, the book argues for the active historical function of myth and collective representations and traces their changing roles through a spectrum of colonial perceptions—from the proto-colonial, through justifications of expansion and annexation, and up to decolonization.

Further information

If you would like to experience more of the Phoenician world than you found in this article, the book Phoenicians: Lebanon’s Epic Heritage is recommended. It is deeply researched but also a highly readable exploration.

Going beyond the few traditionally-cited facts, this authoritative work also draws from interviews with leading archaeologists and historians on-site in the lands and islands where the Phoenicians lived and left clues regarding their secretive society.

Watch the video: Οι Πυραμίδες των Φαραώ και η Αρχαία Ιστορία τους, Οροπέδιο της Γκίζα, Αίγυπτος. TET #10


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