A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean (Greeks Overseas)

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9780199315727: A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean (Greeks Overseas)
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Greek civilization and identity crystallized not when Greeks were close together but when they came to be far apart. It emerged during the Archaic period when Greeks founded coastal city states and trading stations in ever-widening horizons from the Ukraine to Spain. No center directed their diffusion: mother cities were numerous and the new settlements ("colonies") would often engender more settlements. The "Greek center" was at sea; it was formed through back-ripple effects of cultural convergence, following the physical divergence of independent settlements. "The shores of Greece are like hems stitched onto the lands of Barbarian peoples" (Cicero). Overall, and regardless of distance, settlement practices became Greek in the making and Greek communities far more resembled each other than any of their particular neighbors like the Etruscans, Iberians, Scythians, or Libyans. The contrast between "center and periphery" hardly mattered (all was peri-, "around"), nor was a bi-polar contrast with Barbarians of much significance.
Should we admire the Greeks for having created their civilization in spite of the enormous distances and discontinuous territories separating their independent communities? Or did the salient aspects of their civilization form and crystallize because of its architecture as a de-centralized network? This book claims that the answer lies in network attributes shaping a "Small Greek World," where separation is measured by degrees of contact rather than by physical dimensions.

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About the Author:


Irad Malkin is Cummings Chair for Mediterranean History and Culture and Professor of Ancient Greek History at Tel Aviv University. He is the 2014 recipient of the Israel Prize for general historical research.

Review:


"With a persuasive and expert synthesis of modern theories and ancient evidence, Malkin puts forward the thesis that Greek civilization emerged not despite of the diverse nature of and distance between Greek settlements, but because of it.... [L]ike its subject matter, the intellectual reach of this book is extensive and diverse; and, again, like its subject matter, the final achievement will surely play a key role in shaping future historical studies." --Journal of Cognitive Historiography


"This is an invaluable study that recasts the Archaic Greek period of Mediterranean history." --Tamar Hodos, Classical Journal


"A Small Greek World is a thought-provoking look at the ancient Greek history through the lenses of networks science. History is driven by many networks--from networks grounded in geographic proximity, travel, and trade to powerful political and military alliances. Malkin weaves the language of networks into an era of remarkable history, forcing us to rethink just about everything we knew about the period." --Albert-László Barabási, Northeastern University


"Malkin's book takes the study of Greek colonization in the archaic age to a new level of sophistication. The very era in which Greeks scattered themselves around the Mediterranean paradoxically resulted in convergence rather than divergence, and fostered the sense of a collective identity. For Malkin, this occurred not despite but because of the dispersal: a shifting dynamic of interconnections, overlapping, and complex 'middle grounds.' The subject will not be same again." --Erich S. Gruen, University of California, Berkeley


"A stimulating, thought-provoking and well written book that will certainly redefine the terms of the discourse in which we consider issues such as ethnicity and colonization." --Sehepunkte


"Carefully argued, fact-rich, intensely readable.... Greek colonization will never look quite the same again." --CHOICE


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