Scholia Reviews ns 15 (2006) 37.

Henry Hurst and Sara Owen (edd.), Ancient Colonizations: Analogy, Similarity & Difference. London: Duckworth, 2005. Pp. vii + 165. ISBN 0-7156-3298-1. UKĀ£16.99.

Timothy Howe,
History and Classics, St. Olaf College, USA

This collection of essays originated as a seminar for the faculty of Classics at Cambridge to foster dialogue between Greek and Roman specialists and to offer new directions for colonisation archaeology. The book, with its multiple perspectives and provocative arguments is a thorough assessment and critique of previous scholarship, and therefore a valuable addition to colonisation studies. The common goal is to 'look critically at the whole question of "colonization" in the ancient world and unpack -- or at least poke vigorously into -- the cultural baggage we carry as Westerners in thinking about this topic, focusing especially on the intellectual tool of analogy' (p. 1). The articles concentrate on Anglophone scholarship and while Greek topics are better represented than Roman, this is a conscious choice -- Hurst explains in his brief introduction that Romanists have for some time considered the problems created by analogy, especially with respect to 'Romanisation', but Greek archaeologists and historians have only begun to discuss the impact of modern colonial analogies on their models and questions. Since each chapter contains its own individual thesis, each will be treated separately in this review.

Sara Owen's 'Analogy, Archaeology and Archaic Greek Colonization' (pp. 5-22), sets the context for the rest of the work by stating that the Modern European models of colonialism have presupposed relationships which have subsequently restricted our range of explanations of the ancient Greek material record, and thereby restricted the ways in which we have approached Greek colonisation studies. The problem, as she sees it, is that modern analogy and the assumptions it presumes about what colonialism is, has never been analysed, explained, or justified. 'The assumption that asymmetrical power relationships, drawn along ethnic lines, existed in all "colonized" areas from the Late Geometric and Archaic periods onwards is one which still pervades much of the literature' (p. 6). To counter this model, she offers her own research from Thrace to show that a Greek-centred view (Hellenisation) is flawed. In pre-contact Thrace, internal social changes prompted contacts with outsiders (Levantines, Scythians, and Greeks). The common, 'civilising' analogy to British India and other colonial relations only leads to incomplete, even false models about the relations between Greeks and 'others'.

In Chapter 2, 'The Advance of the Greek: Greece, Great Britain and Archaeological Empires' (pp. 23-44), Gillian Shepherd explores how analogy with the High British High Empire (1880-1914) has influenced the scholarship of Greek Sicily and Magna Graecia and imposed a view of colonial inferiority that is only now being lifted. During the High Empire, the British placed a premium on race and racial purity, which, by analogy has been applied to colonising Greeks. The argument runs like this: Greeks were superior to all others, with Greeks from old Greece at the top and then Greeks from the Colonies, other Aryans and then non-Aryans (Phoenicians) at the very bottom. The High Empire also placed great value on fidelity (that is, cultural subordination) to the mother country. So too with the Greeks: colonials were always described as inferior to Old Greece, no matter their economic or military resources. She argues that this model prioritised Old Greece over the colonies and Greeks over indigenous peoples and the evidence was manipulated to facilitate this: indeed, there was a tendency to ignore or explain as inferior crudities the real differences in the material cultures of the Western Greeks.

In Chapter 3, '"Lesser Breeds": The History of a False Analogy' (pp. 45-58), Anthony Snodgrass documents the inherent tendency of humans to turn to their own era for analogy. He shows how recent, or near recent imperial experience subconsciously shaped scholarship about the past. For example, during Britain's most expansive period of colonial growth (the High Empire mentioned by Shepherd), when unlike earlier periods of European expansion there is a heightened sensitivity to differences in race and skin colour, contemporary scholars created models that accentuated racial and ethnic hierarchies. Even in the post-colonial period, scholarship used analogy to highlight subjugation and oppression of 'lesser races'. Post-colonial scholarship has misapplied analogy 'to concentrate on the "natives" and on the methods used to conciliate, assimilate, and govern them' (p. 57). Snodgrass then deconstructs the false analogy to show why it was a bad fit in every way, why this Greek-centred focus on subjugation is misleading. He concludes that the earliest phase of European expansion, the phase of 'first contact', provides a more helpful model.

In Chapter 4, 'The Deceptive Archetype: Roman Colonialism in Italy and Postcolonial Thought' (pp. 59-72), Nicola Terrenato critiques the tendency to view Rome as an imperial archetype. In Western historiography, Roman expansion was regularly portrayed as a developmental model with its own absolute and paradigmatic value. Subsequently, Roman examples were used by modern colonisers and used to justify or at least explain European imperialist efforts to 'civilise' the world. Because of this, certain views about Roman expansion have become fossilised in the historiographic record, even axiomatic, such as the ideas that expansion was a process driven by Roman needs alone and consequently revolutionised the 'less-developed' Mediterranean. Even post-colonial views did not question the fundamental 'truth' of the Roman archetype and merely recast it in the negative light of subjugation. Thus, it has been nearly impossible 'to view Roman expansion independently of its alleged modern equivalent' (p. 65). The way forward to shift focus to the actors involved, Roman and 'other', away from the process of colonisation as an abstraction.

In Chapter 5, 'A View from the Americas: "Internal Colonization", Material Culture and Power in the Inka Empire' (pp. 73-96), Elizabeth DeMarrais examines the concept of Romanisation from the comparative referent of the discrepant experience of Inka colonists. The Inka data offers cultural parallels on the ways in which the archaeological data from ancient empires can be approached in terms of the 'interplay of resistance and accommodation and the gradations of behaviour lying in between' (p. 74). Since the Inka empire expanded in a shorter time, and did not have the centuries Rome did to consolidate, it offers an interesting comparison in terms of 'Inkaization'. Although the Inka made extensive resettlements within the borders of the empire, in order to manage internal security and, in particular, the administration of labour service, they never implemented a policy of 'Inkaization'. Local groups, both relocated and indigenous, largely retained their local identity and only reconfigured what was necessary to make the most of new relationships. There was no top-down policy of assimilation, subjugation, or resistance.

In Chapter 6, 'Excavating Colonization' (pp. 97-114), Carla M. Antonaccio seeks to reverse the scholarly focus on mainland Greece that often sidelines the Western Greeks by exploring the broader framework within which archaeology is working in order to understand the intricate interplay between material culture and identity in the colonial context of Sicily. Through the concept of 'hybridity', or the fusion of different cultural elements, she teases out the ways in which identity manifests in material culture. Antonaccio concludes that Hybridity, was a common occurrence in Sicily (p. 111), and a much more useful descriptor than the top-down, or unidirectional development implied by 'Hellenisation' and other models linked to modern colonialism, with their dichotomy of centre and periphery. A fusion of Greek and indigenous ideas shaped both Greek and indigenous experiences on the island, often without any physical intermixing or intermarriage.

In Chapter 7, 'Colonization and Mediterranean History' (pp. 115-140), Nicholas Purcell explores the connectivity of the Mediterranean region as an integrated 'agrosystem' as an alternative explanation for episodes of Greek 'colonization'. Like the other contributors, Purcell agues that terms derived from modern colonial analogy, such as 'Greece' and 'overseas' even 'centre' and 'periphery', obscure the common motivating and organising experiences of the ancients; for him, it is movement that counts, movement spurred by what he calls 'aggressive opportunisms' (p. 120). The risks inherent in Mediterranean agriculture (for example, seasonal drought, divergent soil quality, microclimates) encourage exploitative behaviours which maximise production and protect the producer. These opportunistic strategies can be deployed within communities, at the expense of neighbours, or beyond the community, at the expense of outsiders. Competition is the rule and success creates greater opportunity, in the form of disposable surplus, which in turn leads to a need for redistribution. And the Mediterranean itself provides the perfect medium for redistribution and greater maximisation of surplus through access to new labour, new markets, and new production. Even the commercial centre, the emporion has a role in this agricultural strategy by providing a redistribution nexus. Greek 'colonization' is therefore the extension of subsistence strategies by successful producers (elites) into new environments whose accessibility is one of their enticements. Thus, 'connectivity' to resources, to labour, to markets, determines success. This model applies to elites of both Greek and non-Greek origin; once a unit is connected, it taps into (and is tapped by) the Mediterranean maritime network and external aggressive opportunism comes into play. Only by understanding the system of regional connectivity as a whole, rather than as relations between coloniser and colonised, can we begin to explain the nuances of discrete, historical 'episodes'.

Purcell's conclusion that the term 'colonization' is not really applicable to the ancient world (pp. 134f.) echoes the conclusions of all the contributors. All seem to suggest that ancient 'colonialism' was much more reciprocal than modern analogy has led us to believe -- stress accommodation as well as confrontation. While many of its conclusions are open to debate (indeed, designed to create debate), the book succeeds in its objectives: each section not only explains the shadow still being cast by the modern colonial and postcolonial experience on the scholarship of the ancient world, but also offers avenues for new directions and possible remedies for seeing the Mediterranean on its own terms. And this twofold agenda of critique and direction is what makes this book such as welcome addition to the dialogue of Mediterranean expansion and ensures it will become a standard reference for both specialists and the general reader.[[1]]


[[1]] The text is clean -- this reviewer found only one typographical error; on p. 46, the quotation from Kipling's Recessional should read 'Dominion over palm and pine' rather than 'Dominion over palm and line'.