Ancient Greek settler colonialism: Aaron Sterngass, It’s Complicated: Relations Between Greek Settlers and Indigenous Sicilians at Megara Hyblaea, Syracuse, and Leontinoi in the 8th and 7th Centuries BCE, Undergraduate Dissertation, Haverford College, 2019


Abstract: Greek interactions with indigenous Sicilians in the Archaic Period have traditionally been examined through the lens of violent colonization by historians from Ancient Greece all the way through the mid-20th century. Recently, postcolonial studies and a new emphasis on material evidence have led scholars to change this narrative, highlighting the possibility of more peaceful and synergetic exchanges between Greeks and natives. This paper examines the relations between Greeks and native Sicilians in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE at Megara Hyblaea, Syracuse, and Leontinoi, three sites at which Thucydides recorded early interactions between Greek settlers and native communities/authorities. To supplement the evidence found at these sites, native communities and other Greek settlements associated with these sites were also analyzed. Through the analysis of ancient sources, material evidence, and modern interpretations which combined both, this paper argues that the earliest Greek settlers at Syracuse, Leontinoi, and Megara Hyblaea had far more complex relations with indigenous Sicilians than is described in the ancient texts and the all-but-recent scholarship. However, it also concludes that while the modern model of more peaceful and cooperative encounters is useful in studying Greco-native relations, it does not fully account for localized differences in these interactions, which often varied widely over short distances and periods of time. The paper advocates for an historical portrayal of indigenous Sicilians as dynamic and innovative whose influences on the Greeks are often overlooked in textbooks, but also encourages the depiction of both Greeks and indigenous peoples as active participants in systems of exchange instead of maintaining static, onedimensional relationships such as “cordial” or “hostile.”

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