Thursday, May 25, 2017


Lieve Donnellan, Valentino Nizzo, Gert-Jan Burgers (ed.), Contexts of Early Colonization. Papers of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, 64. Roma: Palombi Editori, 2016. Pp. 387. ISBN 9788860607294. €49.00 (pb).

Reviewed by William M. Balco, University of North Georgia (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]
[The review of the second volume of essays from the "Contextualizing early Colonization" conference is at BMCR 2017.05.43.]

This volume presents an array of contributions from the international conference "Contextualizing early Colonization: Archaeology, Sources, and Interpretative Models between Italy and the Mediterranean" held in Rome in 2012. Although not a festschrift, it begins with a memoriam that outlines the diverse work of the late David Ridgway. The volume explores a number of topics through 26 papers in English and Italian, divided into four sections organized thematically, yet at times with significant overlap across sections. As a whole, it brings together separate articles covering a variety of aspects about colonization in the ancient Mediterranean.

The first section explores the chronology of the colonization of the Mediterranean, spanning the Iron Age to the Archaic period. Although a broad topic certainly worthy of a volume of its own, this section is limited to four chapters critically exploring the previously developed chronological constructs most of us take for granted. First, a chapter by Manuela Mari challenges the use of ancient sources to construct chronologies of the foundation of Archaic Greek apoikiai. The social context of Greek literary traditions, as well as the development and use of different chronological systems accounting for the foundation of the Sicilian colonies and Carthage, are explored, providing the basis for this challenge. The complexity of the Thucydidean chronology and fundamental methodological problems of relying on a literary chronology are then introduced, leading to a call for communication between disciplinary specialists to best understand the complexity of past chronology. This theme is then picked up by Albert Nijboer, whose chapter continues the critical discussion of chronology, focusing on the effects of a revision to the conventional absolute chronology and providing an update on the chronological debate about the Iron Age in the Mediterranean. Nijboer discusses several radiocarbon samples, dating from the early to mid-eighth century BC and recovered from contexts with Euboean pottery at Francavilla Marittima and Tarquinia. These samples support a hypothetical prospecting phase and suggest that the conventional absolute chronology of the eighth century BC need not be altered. The next chapter, by Valentino Nizzo, argues for a careful re-examination of archival documents from previous excavations, particularly from the necropoleis at Cuma and Pithekoussai. Nizzo presents justification for the re-evaluation of such data, as it can significantly contribute to our understanding of the Early Iron Age chronology in the Mediterranean. Francisco J. Núñez continues the critical discussion of Iron Age chronology, focusing on the Levant and the construction of chronologies using a historicist background. He argues for a combined chronological method, employing sequencing of artifacts, radiocarbon dating, historical sources, and comparison with previously published works.

Papers in the volume's second section focus on the Mediterranean social setting at the beginning of colonization. This section begins with a contribution by Ida Oggiano on the Phoenician expansion throughout the coastal Levant during the early first millennium BC. Oggiano argues that the Near Eastern populations facilitated social complexity through multicultural interaction extending from the Levantine coast to the western Mediterranean. The second contribution to this section, by Michal Krueger, explores local reactions to Phoenician contact and interaction in western Andalusia. Analysis of handmade and wheelmade pottery from Setefilla, a prominent Tartessian site, suggests that imported pottery first served as ritual objects, particularly in mortuary contexts, but later became a status symbol associated with the deceased. The next chapter, by Gianluca Melandri and Nicola Parise, explores changes to standard weights of copper ingots traded throughout the Mediterranean during the Iron Age. The authors identify two different zones corresponding to different standardized measures, one in the Tyrrhenian region and one in the Balearic Sea zone. The authors explore the transformation of the ancient economy and the development of an exchange ratio to facilitate trade and interaction between these and other zones. The final contribution to this section is a chapter by Marco Minoja, Carlotta Bassoli and Fabio Nieddu, exploring the diverse populations inhabiting Bithia (Sardinia) from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age. Results from limited archaeological survey and excavations suggest a Phoenician presence at the site as demonstrated by quantitative analysis of the ceramic repertoire, contributing to our understanding of the scale of the Phoenician presence in Sardinia during the Iron Age.

The third section explores indigenous contexts in Italy at the beginning of colonization. The first chapter in this section, by Gilda Bartoloni, explores social stratification and social mobility among indigenous Tyrrhenian coastal communities following contact with Greeks and Phoenicians beginning in the ninth century BC. The author employs contextual analysis of funerary assemblages to suggest the establishment of a Tyrrhenian aristocracy in the eighth century BC, following contact and interaction with Greeks and Phoenicians. Pier Giovanni Guzzo presents a summary of ancient Greek material culture recovered in Campania and contextualizes it with a discussion of ancient historical sources. Bruno d'Agostino and Patrizia Gastaldi continue this focus on Campania, examining mortuary data to explore Early Iron Age (Villanovan) Pontecagnano and the emergence of socio-economic stratification resulting from entanglement with coastal Tyrrhenian communities. Marco Pacciarelli shifts the focus south to Calabria, exploring territorial reorganization through the consolidation of Early Iron Age populations; he attributes the abrupt end of this phenomenon to Greek colonial intervention. Massimo Osanna's contribution explores settlement and mobility, particularly focusing on the area between the Basento and Sinni rivers in South Italy. Here, the social transformation of indigenous population centers is understood as the result of the arrival of new peoples associated with the polis of Siris-Polieion. This theme is continued in a chapter by Rosa Maria Albanese Procelli. Here, the author explores Iron Age Ausonian and Pantalica cultures, as well as contexts that include a mix of the two. Drawing from historical sources, Albanese Procelli examines the social transformation of the indigenous populations following the arrival of Greek apoikiai, resulting in the appearance of hybridized culture or métissage. Gianluca Melandri and Francesco Sirano's chapter discusses Greek cups and "Orientalia" from Capua. They attribute such material to an indigenous reception of commercial mediators who introduced Cypriot and Levantine material culture to local populations. Mario Denti's chapter continues the spatial focus on Basilicata through a summary of archaeological research at Incoronata, an indigenous Iron Age community that encountered Aegean Greeks prior to the formal establishment of a colony nearby. Differences in material culture between the eighth and seventh centuries at Incoronata attest the development of a community incorporating both Greek and local Oenotrian potters. Martin Guggisberg contributes a chapter focusing on recent excavations at the Macchiabate necropolis at Francavilla Marittima. The results of these modern excavations demonstrate the high status of Oenotrian females during the ninth and eighth centuries BC as attested by funerary assemblages. How these remains were attributed with sex or were associated with a gender is not made clear; however, the author provides citations for numerous reports associated with the excavations, presumably including those that present such methods explicitly. The final chapter of this section, by Francesco Quondam, presents an overview of the settlement patterns, material culture, and social organization of Early Iron Age indigenous populations of the Sybaritide prior to the foundation of Greek Sybaris. Quondam proposes that the indigenous communities of the Sibaritide were, by the late eighth century BC, members of a broadening network resulting from the foundation of Greek colonies in Southern Italy.

The fourth and final section of the volume explores Greek and Phoenician colonization in and of Italy. This section begins with a chapter by Mario Lombardo, exploring the historiography of ancient Greek ktisis traditions. Such traditions originated with literary sources dating from the fifth century BC, reflecting contemporary Athenian concepts of colonial foundation and not necessarily the experiences of the earliest colonists. Lombardo argues, convincingly, that the ktisis traditions do not represent reliable accounts of earlier settlement strategies. Alessandro Naso's contribution explores the exchange of Etruscan, Italian, and Sicilian material culture with Greece, focusing on votive bronze artifacts from Italy recovered at the Sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia. Such finds were frequent components of the votive offerings from the eighth to fifth centuries BC, attesting the favorability of Tyrrhenian bronzes as luxury goods in Greece. A chapter by Massimo Botto explores evidence of commercial relations between Sardinia and Iberia during the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. He attributes such trade to Sardinian sailors operating prior to and alongside Phoenicians in Western Mediterranean trade networks as evidenced by Nuragic material culture recovered from pre- Phoenician contexts in Iberia. The next chapter, by Maria Constanza Lentini, presents evidence for a mixed, Sikel and Greek community at Naxos at the end of the eighth century BC. Fragmentary remains of huts, typical of indigenous Iron Age Sikel populations, contained imported Greek pottery alongside locally manufactured indigenous forms, suggesting the earliest phase of the colony should be characterized as a diverse community of local Sikels living alongside Greek colonists. Next, Valeria Parisi, Chiara Maria Marchetti, and Enzo Lippolis present an interpretation of excavation at the acropolis at Satyrion. The presence of Iapygian and Greek pottery and the construction of the large stone structure at the sanctuary attest a conversion in cult practice at Satryion beginning in the seventh century BC. Giovanni Boffa's chapter serves as the only discussion in this volume of the transmission of language between populations. Boffa explores the appearance of inscriptions composed in Greek script as identified on locally manufactured pottery recovered from diverse sites throughout central Italy during the eighth century BC. He acknowledges the complex character of Euboean-Campanian linguistic interaction, attributing the earliest evidence of such interaction to artisans. Next, Grazia Semeraro employs cognitive archaeology to explore the organization of Iapygian villages, commensal vessels, and the consumption of alcoholic beverages between the eighth and sixth centuries BC. She proposes a system of territorial mobility employed to occupy new sites and provide stability during the Iron Age.

Two appendices are included, the first by Crazia Semeraro presenting source information for a map of Pre-Roman sites in the Salento, the second, by Florinda Notarstefano presenting results of Mass-Spectrometry and Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) Spectroscopy analysis of organic residues from a sample of the feasting vessels included in the study. The final chapter, by Sveva Savelli, presents results of previous excavations at Incoronato, focusing on the occupation of the settlement prior to the foundation of apoikiai at Metaponto and Siris. Intense interaction between indigenous populations and Greeks is attested by majority quantities of imported Greek pottery in contexts associated with the settlement and sanctuary at Incoronata.

Overall, the volume serves as a compendium of recent interpretations of the earliest formal colonization in the Mediterranean, appealing to researchers and advanced students alike. The thematic organization works well to bring together a diverse array of papers focusing on one central topic: Mediterranean colonization. The text is fairly well edited, with few grammatical errors, an impressive feat given the bilingual nature of the text in English and Italian; however, the translation of some sections could have benefitted from further editing to clarify the content presented by well-qualified authors reporting their results. Most chapters include maps that clearly present the study regions and key sites as well as images of select artifacts or excavation contexts. This volume serves as a valuable contribution to the study of Mediterranean colonization. As such, it is well suited to research libraries among universities, content experts, and advanced graduate students conducting related research.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements, 13
In Memoriam David Ridgway, 15
Manuela Mari, I 'tempi' della colonizzazione greca arcaica. Spunti per un dialogo tra discipline, 21
Albert J. Nijboer, Is the tangling of events in the Mediterranean around 770-60 B.C. in the Conventional Absolute Chronology (CAC) a reality or a construct? 35
Valentino Nizzo, Cronologia versus Archeologia. L' "ambiguo" scorrere del tempo alle soglie della 'colonizzazione': I casi di Cuma e Pithekoussai, 49
Francisco J. Nuñez, Considerations around a polarized Mediterranean Iron Age Chronology, 73
Ida Oggiano, The Mediterranean dimension of Levantine Coast in the 1st millennium B.C.: ancient sea routes, new explorations and 'colonial' foundations, 89
Michał Krueger, Local response to the early Phoenician presence in Western Andalusia: the case of material culture from Setefilla, 105
Gianluca Melandri and Nicola Parise, Circolazione del metallo e pratiche della pesatura fra Oriente e Occidente: inerzia e adattamento delle misure fra Tarda Età del Bronzo e Prima Età del Ferro, 113
Marco Minoja, Carlotta Bassoli and Fabio Nieddu, Forme di contatto sulle coaste della Sardegna: indigeni e fenici a Bithia, nuove acquisizioni, 123
Gilda Bartoloni, Le comunità tirreniche all'alba della Magna Grecia, 141
Pier Giovanni Guzzo, Il contest indigeno della Campania all'arrivo dei Greci, 153
Bruno d'Agostino and Patrizia Gastaldi, La cultura orientalizzante tirrenica come frutto di una crescita endogena: l'esempio di Pontecagnano, 159
Marco Pacciarelli, Forme di insediamento del Primo Ferro in Calabria, 177
Massimo Osanna, Forme insediative e contatti di culture lungo la costa ionica d'Italia meridionale tra i fiumi Basento e Sinni (VIII – VII sec. a.C.), 183
Rosa Maria Albanese Procelli, Gli indigeni della Sicilia tra la Prima e la Seconda Età del Ferro: il contest locale della 'prima colonizzazione', 199
Gianluca Melandri and Francesco Sirano, I primi contatti col mondo Greco e levantino a Capua tra la Prima Età del Ferro e gli inizi dell'Orientalizzante, 211
Mario Denti, Gli Enotri – e I Greci – sul Basento. Nuovi dati sul Metapontino in Età Proto-coloniale, 223
Martin A. Guggisberg, Local identity and cultural exchange in (pre-) colonial Francavilla Marittima: the Macchiabate necropolis in the light of new excavations, 237
Francesco Quondam, La Sibaritide prima e dopo la fondazione di Sibari, 247
Mario Lombardo, Le 'prime fondazioni' greche in Occidente: tradizioni antiche e letture modern, 261
Alessandro Naso, Dall'Italia alla Crecia, IX-VII sec a.C., 275
Massimo Botto, The Phoenicians in the central-west Mediterranean and Atlantic between 'precolonization' and the 'first colonization', 289
Maria Costanza Lentini, Le origini di Naxos. Nuovi dati sulla Fondazione, 311
Valeria Parisi, Chiara Maria Marchetti and Enzo Lippolis, Greci e indigeni nel golfo di Taranto: il caso di Satyrion, 323
Giovanni Boffa, 'Prima colonizzazione' e 'primo alfabeto'. Osservazioni su soggetti e modalità dell'interazione culturale fra le più antiche presenze greche in occidente e l'ambiente italico in riferimento alla scrittura, 335
Grazia Semeraro, Nuovi orizzonti per nuove comunità. Qualche riflessione sui processi di definizione delle società arcaiche della Puglia meridionale durante l'Età del Ferro, 351
Sveva Savelli, Models of interaction between Greeks and indigenous populations on the Ionian coast: Contributions from the excavations at Incoronata by the University of Texas at Austin, 371
Publications of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, 385

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