Where was ancient Greece?


Modern Greece is well defined, with the minor dif­fi­culty over the sov­er­eignty of Mount Athos. Ancient Greece is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. In the early first mil­len­nium BC Greece was argu­ably not united by land but by the Aegean Sea. Greek cit­ies sur­roun­ded the Aegean, lying on its shores. In the ninth cen­tury some­thing pecu­liar hap­pens. Euboea, an island close to Athens starts send­ing out waves of set­tlers. The set up a colony on the shores of Syria at a site now known as Al Mina (Boardman 1990). This is fol­lowed by the estab­lish­ment of other far flung colon­ies. Near what is now mod­ern Naples, the Euboeans settled the colony of Pithekoussai. Other colon­ies fol­lowed on the toe of Italy and on Sicily on the oppos­ite side of the Straits of Messina. Other cit­ies sent out other set­tler and colon­ies sprung up along the shores of the Black Sea as far away as Georgia and on the shores of France and Spain. Both mod­ern Marseilles and Ampurias are built on Greek foundations.

These were not ven­tures into pristine ter­rit­or­ies. In every case there were already indi­gen­ous pop­u­la­tions. The nature of rela­tion­ships between the Greeks and the Natives is a con­ten­tious issue. It is agreed that Natives in con­tact with the Greeks appear to have become more Hellenic. How this occurred and how the change in archae­olo­gical finds should be inter­preted is con­tested. Broadly speak­ing there are two camps.
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