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Ancient Greeks beyond Greece

Written by Franco De Angelis |

Professor Franco De Angelis was A.D. Trendall Fellow in 2018-2019 and reports on a recently published edited book completed while in residence.

I am very happy to share my recent book launch, which happened via the newly established Centre for Migration Studies at the University of British Columbia, my home institution. You can watch it on the Centre’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw8bUJtb_io.  Why am I blogging about my edited book A Companion to Greeks Across the Ancient World here? In the final days of my fellowship at the ICS, I busily readied the book’s material for press. The very last details became part of pandemic publishing with the book squeaking through the presses just as lockdowns slammed everything shut. Thanks to this precious time at the ICS, we made it!

 

Book cover

 

The edited book is titled A Companion to Greeks Across the Ancient World, published in the series Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World via the Hoboken, NJ office of Wiley Blackwell Publishers.  The book consists of 580 pages (xxvi + 554) and contains 15 maps, 26 figures, and 3 tables (one of the maps is reproduced below).  Chronologically speaking, the book covers the Early Iron Age to the end of the Hellenistic period.  Geographically speaking, this story stretches from Catalonia in the far western Mediterranean to Afghanistan in central Asia, encompassing such regions as Italy, Libya, the Black Sea, and Middle East in between.  Such a book exceeds the abilities of any one scholar and thus demands a collective effort. This is the most up-to-date book on the subject and ambitiously gathers and analyzes the largest ever body of historical and archaeological data. The book is divided into three parts, across which are distributed 24 chapters, all written by leading specialists in their fields.  Part I has seven chapters that deal with ancient and modern approaches.  Part II comprises 14 chapters of warts-and-all regional history. Part III concludes with three chapters bringing together wider themes, such as the role played by ancient Greeks in culturally developing the pre-Roman Mediterranean, and how Greek migrants and their non-Greek neighbours made vital contributions to making Greece itself, in terms of supplying exports, ideas, and political and military challenges.  Full details about the book’s contents can be found on the publisher’s website: https://www.wiley.com/en-ca/A+Companion+to+Greeks+Across+the+Ancient+World-p-9781118341377.

Although this book has been a decade in the making, the research trajectory of which it is part has been even longer in the making and includes several issues of larger relevance to more than just the ancient Greeks outside Greece per se.  To start, these issues involve the application of postcolonial and postmodern approaches and include critically evaluating the appropriateness of previous terminologies and analytical concepts, the dismantling of centre and periphery narratives, the greater appreciation of the ancient world’s regionalism and non-Greek peoples, and the stressing of interconnected and interdependent relationships that have been challenging to identify with older nationalist and disciplinary approaches.  It is now clear that about one-half of the ancient Greek world did not live in Greece, and that the traditional neglect of these Greeks beyond Greece can no longer be ignored in the way we study and teach ancient history.  The edited book shows how a seemingly well-trodden subject like the ancient Greeks can still be opened up to new horizons in research.  Since my student days, my research has always aimed at telling a more diverse and inclusive story of the ancient Greek world, and this book represents another step in attaining that goal.

 

Map

 

The next step involves writing a new book re-examining the role played by ancient Greeks in the development of the pre-Roman western Mediterranean, which was the primary focus of my Trendall fellowship at the ICS.  The complex sociocultural picture of this region, which is only partially illustrated on one of the maps from my edited volume, has come into sharp focus in the last generation of research.  Did the ancient Greeks play as big a role in the rise of Rome as scholarship has traditionally maintained?  Stay tuned!