Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Greeks: Touring During the Archaic Period

The Greek Archaic Period can be characterized by two currents: the development of the Polis and the emigration of Greeks from their homeland. It is the latter we will discuss in this post.

The map below shows the area of the Mediterranean and labels many of the colonies founded by the Greeks during the period of 800-600 B.C. (click to enlarge).

Colonies in the sense used here are not the same kind of colonies as those of the early United States. The Greek word for these new settlements, “apoikia”, does not imply a dependence between the settlement and its “mother” city. And there were many mother cities: Sparta founded Tarentum; Euboea, Al Mina and Cumae; Corinth, Syracuse; the Phocaeans, Tartessos. The mother cities gave support to the new settlements more because of common culture than political association.

Trading posts were developed to support the shipment of goods back to Greece. Tartessos and Masallia, for example, were vitally important in the tin trade, serving as ports for tin shipments sent over land from the mines. Tin was the metal used in bronze, and always existed in shorter supply than its partner copper.

The reasons for emigration were as varied as the destinations. Some were created by those who wanted to start a new life, some because of famine or drought at home, and some were created through forced emigration (Cyrenaica).

No comments: