Greek colonization

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Greek (red) and Phoenician (yellow) colonies in the Mediterranean

The term Greek colonization refers to the founding of Greek planting cities ( apoikia ) from the Greek mainland, the west coast of Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean Sea before and during the archaic period of ancient Greece . As a result of this colonization, the Greek language , culture and polis system were spread especially in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean and Black Sea .

There are essentially two phases:

The ancient Greek colonization movement represents a field of research that is open and in flux due to ongoing intensive excavation activities. More recent research has increasingly pointed out that the term colonization hardly does justice to the phenomenon. The effects of this migration were of a historical scope and diversity that could hardly be overestimated. They extended to the areas mentioned and the peoples belonging to them; But they also influenced the further development on the Greek mainland and established (at least according to older research) among all Hellenes an awareness of togetherness. On him was u. a. the importance of central places of cult and the meeting of all Greeks, among which Delphi and Olympia emerged in a lasting way.

While the modern image of the so-called colonization was for a long time strongly influenced by the presentation of the events by later Greek authors such as Herodotus , Thucydides and Strabo , in recent years the results of classical archeology in particular have shed new light on the events. Many assumptions that were believed to be safe were called into question. The research discussion continues.

The "Ionic Colonization"

The collapse of the Mycenaean palace civilization resulted in a population decline in Greece in many places, so that the late 11th and 10th centuries BC Evidence of settlement activity on the coast of Asia Minor was probably not based on population pressure, nor does it reveal any guidance from certain local powers or civil associations of the mainland Greeks. Rather, it was such. B. Excavations in Old Smyrna show where in the second half of the 11th century a small group of Greek new settlers joined the already resident natives in order to limit immigration and not to plan settlements. “The conditions were similar in numerous other places. Early new settlers from the late and post-Mycenaean period in the historical Ionian dialect areas on the west coast of Asia Minor came from different parts of the former South Mycenaean dialect area and settled on peninsulas or easily defended places on elevations near the coast or on offshore islands. "

The formation of the various historical dialects of Greek took place during this period of the Dark Centuries after 1200 BC. BC, so also that of the Attic - Ionic dialect group in the Attica and many islands including the greater area. However, the spread of linguistic innovations is not only due to colonization activities, but is also related to a linguistic adaptation that encompasses neighboring spaces in a wave-like manner for the purpose of better understanding. The newcomers, who acted as carriers of the Ionic dialect , came from several regions:

“They did not form a tribe in the sense of a relatively homogeneous community of descent. A kind of identity consciousness only developed relatively late around or after 800 through a merger to form a cult community, which, however, did not represent a political unit. "

In the era of Attic democracy , according to Welwei, the Athenian propaganda directed at the League of Seas falsely spread that Attica was the main starting point for the Ionian colonization. The more recent research cannot prove this, especially since Messenia or Achaia were considered the "original home" of the Ionians .

The result of this phase of Greek colonization was a northern strip of Aeolian allocation in the coastal area of ​​Asia Minor and a central section of Ionic character between Smyrna and Miletus and a Doric section to the south .

The great colonization

Also the so-called Great Colonization, which took place from about the middle of the 8th to the middle of the 6th century BC. BC, was not the result of state planning, for which there was a lack of political organization and institutions, at least initially. Rather, Bengtson saw it as "an immense sum of often uncontrollable individual processes, of plans, attempts, successes and failures in a colorful series". What follows from this was all the more astonishing for him: “When colonization gradually subsided after a period of two centuries around the middle of the 6th century, a wide wreath of blooming Hellenic planting cities closed almost around the entire basin of the great Mediterranean Sea, only in the east the empires of the Near East prevented the Greeks from being established on Syria's coast. "

In the latest research, with reference to the archaeological findings, it is increasingly assumed that, roughly speaking, one had to do with two phases: Up to about 600 the number of emigrated Greeks was low; they would usually have settled as traders and craftsmen next to and in existing local settlements. Only then did a large number of Hellenes emigrate as part of a second wave of settlements, pursue agriculture and drive out or subjugate the locals, often led by an Oikist.

Requirements and motives

The indispensable features of colonization in archaic Greece included a developed mobility, as evidenced by the Homeric epics, as well as nautical knowledge and the knowledge of suitable settlement sites. Such knowledge was already known to the Mycenaean Greeks and acquired through contact with the Phoenicians , experienced as seafarers and traders , who maintained trading bases in the western Mediterranean. Some settled permanently among the locals. In Pithekoussai (on Ischia in the Tyrrhenian Sea ), which was colonized by the Greek as early as the first half of the 8th century, people lived with Phoenicians and could benefit from what they had learned about the geographical and ethnological conditions on the Mediterranean coasts. The direction of expansion of the great Greek colonization, which was mainly concentrated in the west and north of the Mediterranean world, is largely explained by the lack of political power there, which, like the Assyrian Empire , could have had a disruptive effect in the east.

The colonists' motives may have varied from case to case during the 200 year period. Sometimes a partial exodus as a solution to a dispute in the citizenry may have played a role, often also trade interests: "The most important mother cities ( Chalkis , Eretria, Corinth , Megara , Miletus, Phokaia ) apparently had strong trade interests." Traders provided information about suitable places for establishing a colony; Well-known sea connections and replenishment possibilities explain why there were many new settlements along the trade routes.

The main motor of the colonization system, however, is primarily an increase in population, which, given the small size of many Greek poleis, led to land shortages. Based on the information disseminated by traders, it became possible in this situation to “reduce the social tensions caused by the pressure of the population by looking for land abroad - and thus prevent an internal upheaval. To this end, the city organized a colony. The discovery that there was sufficient land in the area of ​​the colonies will have resulted in population growth and, in turn, more colony formation; many cities even sent colonists several times within a generation. "

Typical forms of colonization

Ruins of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi , the patron deity of the new foundations
The "Piraeus Apollo" from the 6th century BC Chr .; Bronze statue from the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus.

The preparatory measures of the colonization enterprise often included the questioning of the Delphic Oracle. His god of consecration, Apollo , also became the patron deity of the new foundations. The information gathered in Delphi about the plans and difficulties of the resettlement initiatives could turn the oracle site into a kind of coordination center for the Great Colonization.

The actual management of a colonization, as corresponded to the social structures of the archaic period, was regularly in the hands of a nobleman who, as an oikist (or archegete ), was in command of his companions ( hetairoi ), who laid down the rules for living together in apoikia and was also responsible for the land distribution on site. About 200 emigrants to Oswyn Murray were needed for a start-up, but not all of them had to come from the same civic association. As a rule, they were unmarried men capable of arms.

The mother city of Apoikie was the community that provided the Oikists and the ships. The cult and various ways of organizing coexistence were taken over from her; but in terms of formal law, the apoikies were independent of the mother cities. Not only did the settlers have space on the ships, but the first basic supplies of seeds, cattle, tools and weapons were also carried. For religious reasons and to symbolically maintain the connection with the mother city, fire and earth were also carried along from the mother city. With these utensils an altar was first erected after the conquest of the land .

Safety aspects were particularly important for the choice of the location for the establishment of the colony. They preferred uninhabited or sparsely populated areas with a barely organized population. Easily defendable headlands, good harbors and fertile surrounding areas were sought. Once the colonists had secured their position, they extended their sphere of influence to the mainland or hinterland. Part of the land was distributed to the settlers, mostly by lottery, the rest was owned by the new city.

Depending on the situation encountered, previous residents are likely to have been forced into bondage and used as workers in agriculture, often also as slaves. Since women were presumably not brought along in the founding phase, it is probable that “the settlers took native women through robbery or in some other way until the colony was consolidated to such an extent that marriage relationships with the previous population were desired - or prohibited. "

Mother cities and focus regions for apoics

Chalkis on Euboea is to be regarded as the “mother city” of the great colonization par excellence . From the Pithekoussai base around 750 BC. Chalkidians founded the oldest Greek settlement Kyme ( Cumae in Italy ). Chalkis was also a pioneer in the Greek colonization of Sicily . The foundation of Naxos has Thucydides v on 734th Dated; Soon afterwards the settlement of Ortygia followed , the original cell of the later Corinthian planting city Syracuse , as well as the colonies Leontinoi , Zankle ( Messina ) and Rhegion . The somewhat later settlement of the islands and foothills in the area of ​​the North Aegean was so strongly determined by the Chalkidians (Chalkis founded 32 planting cities here alone) that the Chalkidike peninsula was named after them. The colonization of the island of Thasos and its Peraia took place around 680 BC. By the parry .

The planting city of Gela was built by the Rhodians on the south coast of Sicily and later founded Akragas further west , which soon surpassed the mother city in terms of splendor and splendor. In the far west of the island, however, the Phoenicians remained predominant, as well as on the North African coast, on Sardinia and the Balearic Islands .

While Sicily was only colonized on the coastal strip and the inland areas were left to the previous population, the whole of southern Italy fell into the hands of land-hungry Greek colonists, especially from Achaia and Lokris on both sides of the Corinthian Gulf . “So an abundance of settlements grew up around the bosom of Taranto , every, even the smallest coastal plain was exploited, and when there was no more land to be given on the east coast, the Greeks penetrated across Italy to the western sea, on the shores of Rhegion ( Reggio Calabria ) to Poseidonia ( Paestum ) a wreath of blooming Hellenic plant towns came together. Kroton , Sybaris and Metapont were founded by Achaean settlers, Lokroi Epizephyrioi indicates in the name the origin of its settlers from Lokris. Taranto (around 700 BC) founded by the legendary Parthenians remained the only Spartan colony at all. [...] In addition to Ionia , it is above all the Lower Italian Greeks and in them the Achaean element from the Peloponnesos , which emerged as a political and cultural leader in Greek history in the 6th century. "

For the Hellenes of Lower Italy , the term "Graeci" was coined in connection with the Grails who emerged as colonists there and who came from Boeotia in Central Greece. Since the 6th century BC, the whole of southern Italy was BC as "Greater Greece" (Megalê Hellas), from which the Romans called Magna Graecia .

Has excelled in the well-planned colonization from the Asia Minor Ionian cities especially Miletus (at the latest v the 7th century. Chr.) With about 70 colonies in the Black Sea region , including Apollonia Pontica , Sinope , Trapezous , Odessos and Olbia , with the establishment from Kyzikos on Propontis and from Naukratis in Egypt, which, with the help of Pharaoh Psammetich I , achieved splendor and prosperity. Except for Sinope, the Milesian colonies on the southern edge of the Black Sea have hardly been explored. On the western shore of the Black Sea, the Histria on Lake Sinoë , which was systematically excavated from 1914, has been very well researched.

From the Ionian Islands , namely from Kerkyra , which dates back to 665 BC. When it was torn away from its mother city Corinth in the 3rd century BC, colonists were sent to the Illyrian coast and to southern Italy, who found older trading establishments of the Ionians and Carians from Asia Minor here. From the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, the seamen advanced from Phokaia to Corsica and the coast of southern France , where Massalia became the center of their trading centers, including Nikaia ( Nice ). From Massalia, the Greeks also headed for Spain, founded the planting cities of Emporion , Hemeroskopeion, Mainake and Hepta Adelphia and challenged the Carthaginians for control of trade.

Other colonization companies led the Greeks to found Aspalathos in Dalmatia and Epidamnos and Apollonia in Albania , Byzantion on the Bosporus and Dioskurias and Mesambria in the Black Sea area. From Thera the planting city of Cyrene was established in North Africa, which developed rapidly under the rule of the Battiad, the founding dynasty , and became a powerful empire that asserted itself against Egypt.

Impact dimensions of the colonization process

The Great Colonization was of far-reaching importance not only geographically, but also in terms of cultural history. The Etruscans in central Italy not only adopted the Greek alphabet but also stocked up on Greek artifacts. Therefore, their tombs were initially thought to be Greek by excavators. Colonization Greeks also had a cultural influence on the Hallstatt culture , the Western European Celts and the Scythians of southern Russia.

But also the internal relations of the Greek world of states got more and more in motion with the Greek colonization. For Welwei there is no doubt that the regulations tried and tested by the Oikists for the respective new foundations for the settler community were communicated within the Greek cosmos and that they found interest in many places during the formation phase of the polis and offered suggestions for shaping their own conditions: “This not least explains the diversity of the institutions and the breadth of variation in their competencies in the settlement areas of the Greeks. "

Last but not least, colonization and expanded trade relations have raised the awareness of the togetherness of all Hellenes: “It will hardly be a coincidence that the Hellenic name first appears in Archilochus (middle of the 7th century), who saw many countries and who participated in the colonization. The sanctuary in Naukratis (in the time of Amasis , 569-526), built jointly by nine Greek cities, was called the Hellenion. Consecrations were made to the "gods of the Hellenes", which is also a sign of the formation of a common Greek consciousness in a foreign country. "

Delphi and its oracle gained great importance as the center of an amphictyony that dates back to 600 BC. All states of Central Greece included. It was the Delphic priesthood who - by adopting a Babylonian element - exercised a unifying effect on the multitude of Greek calendar systems. The initiative of the Delphic Amphictyony was also due to a convention that, in the event of war, e.g. B. forbade to cut off the water supply of the enemy.

Over time, Olympia in the Peloponnese achieved a significance comparable to Delphi. After the Olympic Games in the 8th century BC Started there, since the beginning of the 6th century, under the supervision of judges called Hellanodiken and others. a. also the Greeks of Ionia and Lower Italy who traveled from afar took part in the sporting competition.

See also


in order of appearance:

  • Oswyn Murray : Early Greece. dtv, Munich 1982.
  • Norbert Ehrhardt : Miletus and its colonies. Comparative study of cultic and political institutions. Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1983, ISBN 3-8204-7876-0 .
  • Theresa Miller: The Greek colonization in the mirror of literary evidence. Narr, Tübingen 1997, ISBN 3-8233-4873-6 .
  • Wolfgang Schuller : Greek History. ( Oldenbourg floor plan of history , vol. 1), 5th edition, Munich 2001.
  • Karl-Wilhelm Welwei : The early Greek period. CH Beck, Munich 2002.
  • John Boardman : The Greeks overseas. Their early colonies and trade. Thames & Hudson, London. New and enlarged edition 1980, 4th edition 2003. ISBN 0-500-28109-2 .
  • Gocha R. Tsetskhladze (Ed.): Greek Colonization. An Account of Greek Colonies and Other Settlements Overseas. Two volumes. Brill, Leiden 2006-2008.
  • Martin Mauersberg: The "Greek Colonization". Your image in antiquity and in modern research on ancient sciences . transcript, Bielefeld 2019, ISBN 978-3-8376-4689-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hermann Bengtson , Greek History. From the beginning to the Roman Empire. Special edition of the 5th edition, Munich 1979, (1st edition 1950) p. 47.
  2. Wolfgang Schuller: Greek History. 3rd revised and expanded edition, Munich 1991, p. 106.
  3. Welwei, p. 34.
  4. Welwei, p. 28 / p. 32, who gives the roots of the Attic-Ionic dialect group south and south-east Mycenaean idioms.
  5. Welwei, p. 33.
  6. Welwei, p. 31.
  7. See: Great historical world atlas, ed. by Bayerischer Schulbuch-Verlag, Part 1: Prehistory and Antiquity , edit. By Hermann Bengtson and Vladimir Milojcic, 6th through. Ed., Munich 1978, p. 15.
  8. Welwei, p. 45.
  9. ^ Hermann Bengtson, Greek History. From the beginning to the Roman Empire. Special edition of the 5th edition, Munich 1979, p. 67 / p. 65.
  10. Cf. Elke Stein-Hölkeskamp : The archaic Greece. Munich 2015, pp. 96–121.
  11. Wolfgang Schuller, Greek History , 3rd revised and expanded edition, Munich 1991, p. 13.
  12. ^ Murray, p. 136.
  13. Murray, p. 141.
  14. Wolfgang Schuller, Greek History , 3rd revised and expanded edition, Munich 1991, p. 13; on the other hand Welwei, p. 51: “no central coordination point for colonists”.
  15. ^ Murray, p. 144.
  16. ^ Murray, p. 134.
  17. Murray, p. 147; similar to Schuller, p. 13.
  18. Welwei, p. 47. Approx. 150 years later Cumae became the mother city of the neighboring founding Partenope, from which Neapolis ( Naples ) developed.
  19. ^ Hermann Bengtson, Greek History. From the beginning to the Roman Empire. Special edition of the 5th edition, Munich 1979, pp. 70f.
  20. ^ Hermann Bengtson, Greek History. From the beginning to the Roman Empire. Special edition of the 5th edition, Munich 1979, p. 72. Bengtson (ibid.) Sees in the designation "Greater Greece" possibly the contrast between the vast space available here for the lower Italian colonists compared to the largely much narrower conditions in the motherland.
  21. General on the Milesian colonies and their relationship to the mother city Milet: Norbert Ehrhardt : Milet und seine Kolonien, comparative study of the cultic and political institutions . Frankfurt 1983, ISBN 3-8204-7876-0 .
  22. On the excavations in Sinope see Ekrem Akurgal - Ludwig Budde : Preliminary report on the excavations in Sinope. Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, Ankara 1956.
  23. See research history Histria by Alexandru Suceveanu (English).
  24. Wolfgang Schuller, Greek History , 3rd revised and expanded edition, Munich 1991, p. 14f.
  25. Welwei, p. 53.
  26. ^ Hermann Bengtson, Greek History. From the beginning to the Roman Empire. Special edition of the 5th edition, Munich 1979, p. 63.
  27. ^ Hermann Bengtson, Greek History. From the beginning to the Roman Empire. Special edition of the 5th edition, Munich 1979, p. 64.