The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Hybridization or exploitation? Bioarchaeological evidence for the nature of Corinthian colonial interactions in Albania


1School of Anatomical Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado

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Traditional explanations regarding the nature of Greek colonization embrace a model of Hellenization—the one-sided flow of Greek culture from core to periphery. Colonial interactions are described as imbalanced with the native peoples quickly subjugated and local resources strongly regulated and controlled. However, newer models define colonial relationships in terms of hybridization—variation in colonial response and transformation of identity for both interacting populations. Motivations for colonization may even have involved the establishment of friendly relations throughout the Mediterranean creating a system of reciprocity. We use bioarchaeological evidence to contribute to this discussion, and test the hypothesis that Corinthian colonial interactions were largely friendly. Specifically, we hypothesize that there was no change in skeletal stress or trauma following colonization at the Corinthian colony of Apollonia, Albania (c. 600 B.C.). This is supported by historical sources indicating colonial interactions at Apollonia were friendly and initiated through non-violent means.

At Apollonia (n=228), prevalence of skeletal stress (porotic hyperostosis, cribra orbitalia, enamel hypoplasia) showed nonsignificant increases while the frequency of periostitis and trauma decreased following colonization. At Corinth (n=85), prevalence of skeletal stress (porotic hyperostosis, cribra orbitalia, oral health) decreased. Although these data support the assertion that colonial interactions were nonviolent, relations were not necessarily mutually beneficial to Corinthians and their colonies. Though Corinth received benefits from colonization resulting in improvements in skeletal health for their populace, skeletal health declined at Apollonia, likely in response to urbanization, poor sanitation, and exposure to new pathogens through increasing interaction with Mediterranean traders.

This research was supported by a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant, a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research, and the International Centre for Albanian Archaeology.

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