Mediterranean Paradigms and Classical Antiquity

The Boundless Sea of Unlikeness? On Defining the Mediterranean
Nicholas Purcell

In this preliminary attempt to compare the boundaries implied by traditional accounts of the Mediterranean with those that would follow from the hypotheses of The Corrupting Sea, the essential variable turns out to be complexity, in which the 'connectivity' of the monograph plays the most important role. Defining Mediterranean space in this way avoids some disadvantages of traditional views and fits more closely with cultural preoccupations in at least some periods of Mediterranean history. It also offers easier ways of building the Mediterranean into 'connected histories' of much larger geographical reference.

Ian Morris

Since the 1980s historians and archaeologists have shifted from models emphasizing the stability of bounded cultures to ones emphasizing fluidity and connectedness. It is argued here that this is a response to globalization. Criticizing current connectedness models for their unfocused questions and methods, the argument emphasizes processes of Mediterraneanization over timeless Mediterraneanism, the need for more precise analytical categories, and recognition that increasing connectedness created both winners and losers. It is illustrated with a study of western Sicily, where Mediterraneanization benefited and harmed different groups between 800 and 300 BCE.

Networks and the Emergence of Greek Identity
Irad Malkin

The concept of networks, now common in a variety of current discourses from brain science to postmodernism and globalization, is also a salient heuristic concept for the Mediterranean. Shying away from hierarchical, center-periphery constructs and offering new cognitive maps, this paper looks at how distance creates the virtual centre - how the expanding network of ancient Greek cities (or 'colonies') from Black Sea Georgia to Mediterranean Spain, contributed to the rise of pan-Hellenism. Considering the relatively short time in which the numerous foundations were effected, their wide-ranging geographical horizons, the role of mythic frameworks and of Apollo and the Delphic oracle in founding and mediating among the sending communities and the settlers, and the explicit and implied (nomima) connections with 'mother' cities, colonies, and subcolonies, with their new regional interests and identities, all created a new kind of 'Greek' convergence in the ancient Mediterranean.

Cultures, Landscapes, and Identities in the Mediterranean World
Lin Foxhall

This paper explores how élites and non-élites in ancient Greece might have perceived agrarian landscapes. On the basis of several archaeological case studies and a wide range of comparative ethnographic and historic material, it is argued that the archaeological evidence for land division in early Greece reflects agrarian rather than 'urban' ideologies. The widely-accepted belief that 'colonization' reflects a shortage of land is likely to be wrong. Rather, there were practical limits on the amount of land individual households could have cultivated without additional resources of labour.

A Peculiar Island: Maghrib and Mediterranean
Brent D. Shaw

The relationship of the Maghrib to the Mediterranean in premodern times, especially during the long history that extended from late prehistoric times through the early Islamic period, was fundamentally unlike that of the whole circuit of lands lying north and east of the Mediterranean. The Maghrib was characterized by a peculiar insularity that created an unusual dialectic between it and the rest of the Mediterranean, an insularity whose effects can be witnessed in typically recurrent patterns found in its history during the premodern age.

A Sea of Faith?
Greg Woolf

The use of Mediterranean paradigms is a heuristic strategy with costs as well as gains. Other paradigms have been more influential in the study of ancient religion. Their weaknesses may be compared to the difficulties Mediterranean paradigms have in accounting for religious change and in linking environment to spirituality. Few, if any, religious forms or practices can be shown to be characteristic of and exclusive to the Mediterranean. A brief consideration of the spatial distribution of ancient cults suggests that other factors were more influential than geographical considerations.

Close the window