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Territorial occupation and establishment of frontiers: cultural contact in Greek Mediterranean (IX -III a.C.)


In the years that we have been working in Labeca (Laboratory of Studies on the ancient city - MAE / USP) the valorization of the archaeological document allowed us to perceive its potential in the process of characterization of the ancient Greek city. It is worth mentioning that the systematic study of the distribution of archaeological remains in the configuration of the Greek hinterland (theme of our previous project - cf. allowed us to overcome a restricted definition of a centralized polis in the urban nucleus and its territory.The deepening of our studies on the Greek hinterland - especially in the peripheral areas of the Hellenic world to the West and the East - has allowed us to draw an hypothesis that not only the khóra was a feature that intervened in the formation of society as it served as a crucible for multiple cultural relations, indispensable contribution to the configuration of the Greek identity. In this sense, we understand that the "Greek way of being" radiated from Balkan and Aegean Greece included the fundamental need for ownership of territories, regardless of the basic survival needs, and also included a competitiveness among the Greeks themselves for the domination of territories, a feature not common among other Mediterranean populations.We think that precisely this "Greek way of being" provoked the expansion movement known in the bibliography as 'colonization' from the 8th century B.C.; movement that promoted a series of new foundations that immediately began to look for a greater territorial control, towards their respective hinterlands. In this search they came in contact with both the non-Greek populations previously settled in these localities and with other Greeks equally settled and also looking for new territorial bases. Between conflicts and negotiations, these societies shaped a new world.The occupation of territories and the definition of borders are a fundamental element in this process. Based on these indicators that emerged in the course of the studies we carried out in the framework of Labeca, our intention is now to carry out further case studies with this new project. It is our aim to identify specific contact networks that go beyond the strict limits of the urbanized Greek city and which hopefully will take us to a better understanding of the very nature of Greek society. Our point of departure / our hypothesis / is that the fabric created by the relations in the Mediterranean and, by force, the contact between the partners in these relations played a fundamental role in the configuration of Greek society. As is well known, and archaeologically well documented, the mobility of human groups in the Mediterranean is well prior to the 700s BC, however, it is in this century that groups of Greeks, from diverse backgrounds, from the Aegean, Eastern Greece or the Balkans, began to establish permanent settlements mainly in the south of the Italian Peninsula and in Sicily in a process that leads to the configuration of the polis. This process of expansion provoked a series of social, cultural, political and economic transformations that had repercussions throughout the Mediterranean environment. The contact between different groups caused by this mobility is what interests us in this research proposal, assuming that this cultural contact, in the various forms it has assumed, has been appropriated by the Greeks as a creative and proper element of the Hellenic dynamism. (AU)

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