Origin, motivation, form, and perception of a large migration in antiquity 

The darkest and yet most fascinating phase of the Greek colonization is its beginning. Motivation, form, and date of the first ›expeditions‹ are still highly debated. Current field work in the northern Aegean, particularly in the ancient city of Mende on the Chalcidice, has revealed new information and permits comparative analyses with the earliest Greek settlements in Italy.

Apoikismos | colonization | colonialism

In ancient and modern Greek »Apoikismos« refers to the abandonment of the household and home and the subsequent foundation of settlements abroad. This historical phenomenon began – according to the conventional chronology – in the 8th century BCE and continued for several centuries. Normally apoikismos is translated as »colonization« which is etymologically based on the Roman colonia, a military camp used to control the subjugated population. Today, it is evident that the side effects of this translation were part of a reciprocal relationship with the ideology of the mighty western European colonial powers of the last centuries.

Mende: The earliest Greek colony in the northern Aegean

The aim of this interdisciplinary project is to conduct a comparative study of early Greek colonization in Macedonia and Italy during the 8th and 7th centuries BCE informed by post-colonial theory. The project is based on the publication of the archaeological material from the early Iron Age and early Archaic construction phases of the settlement of Mende which was one of the most important Eubean colonies in the northern Aegean. Archaeological material from sealed contexts from this city has already been statistically and typologically analyzed with the aim of studying the impact of Greek colonization through the cultural remains of the Chalcidice.

Comparative study of archaeological data from Macedonia and Italy

The analysis of the stratigraphy and the archaeological material of Mende and the comparative study with similar sites in Macedonia and Italy provide new insights into a historical phenomenon. By bridging the gap between research focused on either end of the Greek colonial expansion, it is possible to overcome old prejudices and examine the validity of new models. According to these models, the Greek colonization was not a collection of individual events but a developmental process towards new socio-political entities and identities. Should this scenario prove to be correct, it will not be possible to regard the foundation dates of early Greek colonies nor the Greek absolute chronology for the Geometric and early Archaic period as proven.

Archaeometric data

The reconstruction of the early colonial relations will be supported by a number of archaeometric analyses. This includes, for example, radiocarbon dating of contextualized, short-lived samples, archaeometallurgical analyses of bronze objects in terms of ancient networks for the trade of ore, neutron activation and petrographic pottery analyses for the clarification of the provenance as well as technological studies that will provide information about sudden changes in the ceramic production. Finally, a summarizing archaeobotanical study will provide a better understanding of the natural environment with which the colonists were confronted in their northern ventures.