Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, Vol 33, No 1 (2020)

The Dynamics of Belonging: Comparative Community Formation in the East and West Mediterranean

Catherine Steidl
Issued Date: 1 Oct 2020


An archaeology of communities is an effective way to compare interactive dynamics and identities both inlocalized contexts and at a regional scale. Such an approach brings an especially productive perspective tothe study of cross-cultural interaction and mobility, because it allows for the de-centering of ethnicity infavor of practices and interactions. In this study, I explore the divergent regional trajectories of Ionia in theeastern Aegean and the northwestern Mediterranean littoral that stretches between modern Barcelona andMarseille. Both regions were important environments for interactions between Greek-speaking inhabitantsand a myriad of other local populations. Ionia developed a strong communal and regional identityand was pulled into the center of the Greek cultural imagination; the northwestern Mediterranean coast,however, did not. Comparing the dynamics of community and interaction in these two areas reveals thatthe mechanics of interaction and affiliation between a diverse range of inhabitants in each region may nothave been so different; rather, the forces that fomented a common Ionian identity likely came not so muchfrom within the region as without. Finally, this comparison highlights the diversity among communities ofpractice that may be present within a single residential community.

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DOI: 10.1558/jma.42348


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