HomeColonial geopolitics and local cultures in the Hellenistic and Roman East (IIIrd Century B.C. – IIIrd Century A.D.)

Colonial geopolitics and local cultures in the Hellenistic and Roman East (IIIrd Century B.C. – IIIrd Century A.D.)

Géopolitique coloniale et cultures locales dans l'Orient hellénistique et romain (IIIe siècle av. J.-C. – IIIe siècle ap. J.-C.)

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Published on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 by Julie Abbou

Summary

It seems clear that, in the Greek-speaking regions of the Roman Empire, Hellenistic models (civic, military or institutional) exercised considerable influence over “Italic” colonial projects. Within this field, relations between military colonists and indigenous peoples demand special attention, considering the degree of social, cultural, economic, political and geopolitical transformation brought about by the installation of certain groups upon those lands as a result of the will of the great power(s) that ruled over them. As for the Roman colonization, modern scholars have often described Roman colonies as vectors of Romanization inserted in alien lands, writing that these communities must have functioned as images of a “small Rome.” While the existence of Latin-speaking colonists ruled by a favorable juridical system such as the Ius Italicum cannot be denied, such a reductionist model can no longer be accepted without qualification, especially in the context of the Greek-speaking provinces of the Roman East. The regions of the Eastern Mediterranean world saw the coming of a number of groups of Roman colonists and thus their cultural climate, their agrarian structures and their geopolitical environment changed. The aim of this panel is to explore new research paths based on broader studies in time and space.

Announcement

Celtic Conference in Classics (Edinburgh, June 25-28th, 2014)

H. Bru (Université de Franche-Comté/ISTA) & A. Dumitru (Metropolitan Library of Bucarest/Cincinnati University)

Argument

Taking into account institutional and political perspectives, one can legitimately distinguish Greek colonization of the Hellenistic age (starting with the “thrust toward the East” initiated by Alexander the Great and his successors), from that of the Romans, which began to develop in the Mediterranean East, especially from the beginning of the Ist century B.C. It seems clear that, in the Greek-speaking regions of theRoman Empire, Hellenistic models (civic, military or institutional) exercised considerable influence over “Italic” colonial projects. Within this field, relations between military colonists and indigenous peoples demand special attention, considering the degree of social, cultural, economic, political and geopolitical transformation brought about by the installation of certain groups upon those lands as a result of the will of the great power(s) that ruled over them.

The elements of Greek colonization of the Hellenistic age have been (and are still) an object of study since the XIXth century. The original perspective of the scholars who wrote about the phenomenon of founding Greek cities was that the planting of Greek-speaking communities in the East civilized the East by the means of spreading the elements of Western civilization (e.g. – Rostovtzeff’s view of a resilient Greek middle-class transplanted to the East who were so essential in maintaining the Hellenistic states that it survived long after they were gone). Needless to say, this perspective needs to be amended and much has been done since the works of Victor A. Tcherikover (in 1927) or Arnold H.M. Jones (in 1940), passing through the magisterial studies of Getzel M. Cohen (The Seleucid colonies. Studies in founding, administration and organization, Stuttgart, 1978; The Hellenistic Settlements in Europe, the Islands and Asia Minor, Berkeley, 1995; The Hellenistic Settlements in Syria, the Red Sea Basin, and North Africa, Berkeley, 2006; The Hellenistic Settlements in the East from Armenia and Mesopotamia to Bactria and India, Berkeley, 2013) and Richard M. Billows (Kings and colonists. Aspects of Macedonian Imperialism, Leiden, 1995). Thus, we have a better understanding of the process of founding a city, of the origins of setters, their relations with the State, which in most cases meant the King (as in the work of Billows), and  how the institutions of the new cities appeared (on which see, inter alii, John Ma). Scholars have also discussed the role and position of the founder of a city (which, after all, was more or less, a royal prerogative) [Wolfgang Leschhorn, Gründer der Stadt,Stuttgart, 1984], as well as the practical aspects of what it must have meant to live among a different community (such as, e.g., Maurice Sartre).

Some questions, however, are rarely (or never) asked: e.g. how did classical colonization influence the homonymous phenomenon from the Hellenistic Age (and, further on, how many aspects of the Hellenistic colonization were kept alive by the Roman founders of cities? When Pompey founded Pompeiopolis in Cilicia, was the result a Roman city, a Hellenistic city, a Roman with some Hellenistic traces, and if so, how many, or was it a Hellenistic city with some Roman traces, and how many of those?  Where did the settlers get their wives from? Also, since we know now that many “native” cities became poleis by the IInd century B.C. (e.g. – Sidon sending competitors to the Nemeic games, thus clearly stating to the Greek world that it was a polis), we are entitled to ask ourselves: how did this happen? What were the metamorphosis of the native city when turning into a polis ? Was it simply a façade ? How deep – and peaceful – were the required changes ?

As for the Roman colonization, modern scholars have often described Roman colonies as vectors of Romanization inserted in alien lands, writing that these communities must have functioned as images of a “small Rome.” While the existence of Latin-speaking colonists ruled by a favorable juridical system such as the Ius Italicum cannot be denied, such a reductionist model can no longer be accepted without qualification, especially in the context of the Greek-speaking provinces of the Roman East. The regions of the Eastern Mediterranean world saw the coming of a number of groups of Roman colonists and thus their cultural climate, their agrarian structures and their geopolitical environment changed, at least partly. Research in this field commenced at the beginning of the XXth century; Barbara Levick’s Roman colonies of Southern Asia Minor (Oxford, 1967), a good account on the chaplet of Roman colonies established on the Taurus in the age of Augustus, was a highpoint of this literature. Recently, in a useful synthesis (« Les colonies romaines dans le monde grec », in E. Dabrowa [éd.], Roman Military Studies, Electrum 5, 2001, p. 111-152), Maurice Sartre has invited us to pursue and deepen research in this area, within the frame of an international conference dedicated to this subject (G. Salmeri, A. Raggi, A. Baroni [éd.], Colonie Romane Nel Mondo Greco, Roma, 2004). The epigraphical and archaeological research conducted so far has advanced considerably in the last decades, in Greece, Asia Minor and the Middle East, but also in Pisidian Antioch, Dion, Philippi, Patras or Berytos (to mention but a few). To further our understanding of the history of the Roman colonies of the Eastern Mediterranean world, a territorial approach on the life of these communities will be necessary, if one is to take into account the socio-political nature of these entities that were imposed at a regional scale by a central (and distant) power.

Several new questions have been provoked by data gathered in recent years, such as: what were the geopolitical functions of the colonies, if one leaves aside their role of granting land to the veterans of the Roman armies? What were the cultural, social and religious relations between the colonists and the indigenous people, as seen through the light of the shared land, the variety of the spaces chosen by the Roman power, the quality of the land(s), the domination, the organization and the administration of the colonial territories? New dimensions could be explored more profoundly on this renewed field of research, thanks to new methodologies based especially on conjoined study of the results of archeological and epigraphical surveys and the images provided by the aerial and satellite images, without neglecting the literary sources or the information that can be obtained by studies of onomastics and prosopography.

Themes

From this perspective, the papers proposed for this panel may address the following issues:

  • the colonial geopolitics promoted by the States;
  • the cultural and social origins of the groups being displaced by the State and established elsewhere as colonists;
  • the social, economic, cultural and military consequences of the colonization over the local populations (e.g. the loss of agricultural land, the displacement towards desertic or mountainous areas, the revolts, the brigandage, the piracy, the way of joining the armies of the States, the way of becoming mercenaries, the strengthening of the indigenous cultural identities);
  • evidences of peaceful coexistence, voluntary or not, as seen through economic, cultural or social aspects (e.g– where did the colonists get their wives? Did the colonists learn the language of the indigenous people or vice-versa)?
  • (dis)continuities in the colonial practices of the Hellenistic and Roman Ages;
  • documentary methodologies allowing to deepen the knowledge on the indigenous cultures in the colonial context and the phenomena of acculturation;
  • the historical sociology of the colonial territories.

Submission guidelines

Please, send an abstract (1500 character maximum, including spaces and a title by January 31, 2014 to:

Hadrien Bru (Université de Franche-Comté / Institut des Sciences et Techniques de l’Antiquité): hadrien.bru@univ-fcomte.fr

&

Adrian Dumitru (Metropolitan Library of Bucarest): seleukosnikator@yahoo.com

Places

  • School of History, Classics, & Archaeology, William Robertson Wing, Old Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, SCOTLAND
    Edinburgh, Britain (EH89AG)

Date(s)

  • Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Attached files

Keywords

  • géopolitique, indigènes, grecs, romains, colonies, territoires, cultures, Orient, Méditerranée, époque hellénistique, époque romaine

Contact(s)

  • Hadrien Bru
    courriel : hadrien [dot] bru [at] univ-fcomte [dot] fr
  • Adrian Dumitru
    courriel : seleukosnikator [at] yahoo [dot] com

Information source

  • Hadrien Bru
    courriel : hadrien [dot] bru [at] univ-fcomte [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Colonial geopolitics and local cultures in the Hellenistic and Roman East (IIIrd Century B.C. – IIIrd Century A.D.) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, October 08, 2013, https://calenda.org/261057

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