Archibald, Zosia Halina [en] - Economies of the Northern Aegean. Fifth to First Centuries BC [Oxford]

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Economies of the Northern Aegean from 5th to 1st century BC




  • Map 1. The east Balkan and north Aegean area




  • Ancient Economies ofthe Northern Aegean

    Fifth to First Centuries bc




  • 3Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, OX2 6DP,

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    Zosia Halina Archibald 2013

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  • Preface

    Most visitors to the northern Aegean today approach it (whether phys-ically or in virtual and abstract terms) from the south, that is, from theAegean Sea. In this book I have attempted not just to look at this part ofsouthern Europe from the familiar, southerly perspective, but to imagineit from other angles. The chapters are organized to reect these differentapproaches, which do deliver different impressions. They are compatibleimpressions, but nonetheless rather unfamiliar to most Classicists andhistorians, those of classical antiquity as of more recent times.I might begin with maps. The map that forms the frontispiece to

    the book is a unique creation. I could not nd a map that provided thephysical environment of my story, so it had to be created. Modernnational boundaries are powerful drivers of the available geographicalinformation, so most attempts to make use of what is available tend tofollow patterns created by convenient, readily accessible parameters.These parameters are of little use when mapping the remote past,which blissfully ignores modern boundaries. Older maps are anothermatter. Nineteenth-century maps of southern Europe give a far broaderperspective, but populate the landscape with unfamiliar names andhabits of mind. Travelling about the region certainly helps to provide abetter sense of local ecologies; but modern geography conceals as muchas it reveals. The great river courses of the east Balkan area have changedtheir beds and altered the immediate landscape in ways that require bigteam projects to disentangle. What we see is not what used to be there.So this book is consciously arranged like a series of successive stage

    sets, which gradually reveal the full perspective of the remote past. First,there is a preliminary summary, in Chapter 1, intended to explain whatthe story is about. The players are not just characters and choruses fromantiquity, since the story is told through the voices of contemporaryhistorians, geographers, and archaeologists. We need to hear theiraccounts, but must also manage to discern the fact that they speak indifferent registers. Modern political congurations of the region havedivided up its history into a mass of separate, sometimes quite contra-dictory interpretations. The stories are not the same, nor are the inter-pretations compatible. They cannot all be equally valid. Somehow,choices have to be made and readers need to know what these choicesare. The introductory chapter tries to see the past through the eyes of a


  • number of key modern personalities, whose research has created muchof the modern architecture of the subjects explored here.Other themes introduced in Chapter 1 are gradually developed in later

    chapters. Political history is almost always a key component of bignarratives; but whose politics may be in question is not easy to discern.The politics of the powerful in southern Europe during the second half ofthe rst millennium bc is both more noticeable than it is in central andsouthern Greece and less so. The actions of powerful individuals, rulers,princes, and landowners are manifested in all kinds of ways, which alsoleave visible tracesstructures, monuments, public statements, in theform of stone inscriptions and funerary architecture. For a variety ofreasons, modern access routes into the region, even today, tend to avoidthe inland trajectories that linked the continental heartlands of princesand landowners to coasts and harbours, and thus to the more familiarlandmarks and place names of classical maritime itineraries. This mayexplain why some of these monumental power statements have onlybeen discovered comparatively recently. Yet the stories about the power-holders of the region do survive and can be reinstated, if we nd amethod by which this can be done.If we make an effort of imagination to resurrect the landward power-

    holders of southern Europe, we can begin to see patterns in the geopoliticallandscape. The Greco-Persian wars emerge as a signicant driver of socialand economic changes that refashioned existing hierarchies and therebyintroduced new fashions and customs. Understanding the social param-eters of the region is therefore the rst task to be explored. This cannot, ofcourse, be done without also considering how these social entities havebeen described and interpreted as modern scholars have sought to glossand project the disparate evidence about ancient societies in the regioninto recognizable and coherent social forms. The communities thatemerge from historical accounts and archaeological vestiges in Chapter 2have thus to be made into identiable economic agents in Chapter 3,before the focus returns in Chapters 4, 5, and 6 towards the ways in whichthe landscape has become a canvas for human discovery and use.Most scholarly works on classical antiquity stick to a limited chron-

    ology, well supported by ancient literary or other written texts. I havedelved much further back into the past. It is no longer uncommon to ndancient historians acknowledging the importance of long-term pro-cesses. I want to emphasize this deep perspective. Subsistence patternsin southern Europe have very deep roots indeed, which partly explain therobustness of the mixed agricultural economies that become discerniblein rural establishments of the fth to third centuries bc. The long-term


    vi Preface

  • strategies also help to frame the particular events and relationships thatprovide some of the incidental detail that emerges from my story.The deeply rooted ecologies of the south-east Balkan and north

    Aegean area have to be understood in terms of particular communitiesand traditions. Perhaps the hardest task for any historian who wants tomake this region better known is to create the kinds of associations thatcome so easily to more southerly and easterly locations, whose namesecho down the centuries through the poetry of Homer and the rhetoric oforators. The place names of this region are often strange modern ones,and rural mysteries at that. The best kept secret of the east Balkans are itsrural retreats. Modernity has gloried in the urban landscape of antiquity,whilst ignoring its equally impressive contributions to the managementand construction of the rural landscape.The scene-setting that each chapter tries to create results in a series of

    lters through which various historical identiersethnic groups,peoples, archaeological sites, artefacts, and commoditiesare viewed inturn. These lters include demography, geology, ecology, languages, andepigraphy. Filters of this kind employ different methods and producedifferent results, which must nevertheless be factored into the overallnarrative of the past. Beyond these lters rises the broader discourseabout the nature of ancient societies, their organization and structure. Ihave tried to keep discussion of social matters rmly in touch witheconomic ones and have chosen paradigms that seem to reect theclose connection between the material and the social that is such astriking component of any encounter with the artefacts and monumentsthat these societies created. It makes a very different environment inwhich to evaluate some of the familiar and established models forconceptualising classical antiquityincluding the paradigms inventedby Moses Finley; the overriding preoccupation with coastal locationsagainst inland ones; the polis of the Copenhagen project; regionalism,national boundaries.

    Handbridge, Chester, May 2013


    Preface vii


  • Acknowledgements

    The idea for this book was conceived