A theory of Greek colonisation : EIA Thrace and initial Greek contacts.

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Owen, Sara Susan 

The study of Greek colonisation is still dominated by Hellenocentric and Imperialist approaches. Furthermore, culture historical methodologies are still common. Studies often prioritise Imperialist readings of Greek literature, and even (as demonstrated here) restore fragments of Archilochos according to these assumptions. They also demonstrate a reified view of ethnicity, particularly in their adherence to the model of 'Hellenisation'. This thesis attacks the colonialist assumptions which pervade even the more theoretically sophisticated literature on the subject. Instead it attempts to provide a theoretically-informed account of the Greek settlement of Thrace, a region complicated by the presence of a divisive national frontier between Greece and Bulgaria. It rejects the Hellenocentric models and attempts to contextualise the first material evidence of Thracian contacts with Greeks. In so doing, thiss tudy demonstrates that first contacts with Greeks must be seen in the context of profound social (in which are embedded technological and economic) changes within Thrace which led to the active seeking out of exotic objects on the part of nascent elites. It does this through the media of studies on the adoption of iron, landscape, megaliths and burial in Early Iron Age Thrace, and a case study of burial, settlement and cult evidence from the island of Thasos. This thesistherefore has wider implications than just for the study of the Early Iron Age, or Greek 'colonisation' of this area. It demonstrates that the local social context is crucial to understanding the nature of the phenomenon of Greek colonisation. More than that, it demonstrates that the local context and local populations can no longer be seen as tabulae rasae for the imposition of Greek culture.


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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge