The study of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East has witnessed an explosion of new data and approaches over the past generation. While some historical narratives have also changed to reflect this, many old, outdated narratives continue. A case in point concerns the pre-Roman western Mediterranean between the 9th and 3rd centuries BC, especially Italy, its later historical centre. These centuries witnessed the conjoining of immigrant cultures and economies from the eastern Mediterranean (particularly Greeks and Phoenicians) with indigenous cultures of the western Mediterranean (particularly Etruscans and Sardinians). Modern scholarship has long been dominated by the view that the immigrants encountered a backwards western Mediterranean, and that the supposedly more sophisticated newcomers transferred their advanced cultures and economies to them. This resulted in the western Mediterranean’s emergence from the ‘Dark Age’ and laid the basis for its later historical success, including the Roman Empire. In the last generation, another view has challenged this narrative, thanks to the growth and interpretation of archaeological data in the western Mediterranean. More careful and systematic analyses have begun, without automatically attributing developments to Eastern Mediterranean origins. My research at AIAS will involve writing a new book re-examining this whole question.
Franco De Angelis is Full Professor and Distinguished University Scholar at the University of British Columbia. As an ancient historian and archaeologist, his research focuses on expanding the narrow story we tell about the ancient Greeks by examining their overlooked migrations and diasporas, which represent—literally--the other half of their story. He adopts a two-pronged approach: first, by paying close attention to the underlying ancient and modern historiographies to understand how this situation developed and how it can be rectified, and, second, by adopting a multi- and interdisciplinary methodology that is theoretically informed.
Conjoining Cultures and Economies in the Pre-Roman Western Mediterranean
Area of research:
Ancient Mediterranean History
01 Oct 2018 – 30 Sep 2019
Interior View of “Dionysos Cup” by Exekias, found at Vulci, Etruria, ca. 540-530 BCE.