Dr. Peter Attema

By Samir Qountich

The Many (Sur)Faces of Greek Colonization

Peter Attema was one of the speakers in the conference ‘’Ancient Colonialism in a Comparative Perspective’’. He named his paper ‘’The many (sur)faces of Greek colonization’’. His paper and talk focused on the importance of landscape archaeology in researching ancient colonialism. He provided very detailed examples of times where landscape archaeology recently gave new insights into the field of ancient Greek colonialism.

I picked up on two main areas where the use of landscape archaeology gave a new look on the way we need to think about ancient Greek colonialism. The first was the problem of early trade and interaction between the Greeks and the local population. Through survey archaeology, archaeologists have found pottery sherds revealing contact between the Greeks and the local population during to the Minoan Age, or even the Early Bronze Age, which is significantly much earlier than the time of colonization. The second area where survey archaeology could help was the study of inland regions. Most focus of research has gone to the Greek inhabited coastal areas whereas the more inland regions have been somewhat ignored. Survey archaeology can help with this area in a similar way to the previous example by providing evidence of interaction between the Greeks and the locals and showcasing that this interaction was less sudden than often thought. All in all, landscape archaeology and new archaeological evidence can change the way we understand the early process of Greek colonization. It can help us investigate beyond the Greek chora into areas previously ignored.

Despite being quite technical and describing the archaeological practices of his example, Attema’s talk was easy to follow for the most part, as long as I did not miss the main point. He opened with his main argument and that immediately made it clear what the salience of the examples was. The archaeological methodology of his examples was explained in such a way that even with my basic understanding of archaeology, the talk was still understandable.

The only parts of the talk which I deem negative are related to my personal preferences. As a non-archaeologist, some of the technical archaeological details went over my head. I would have liked it if Attema had focused a bit less on this archaeological methodology and more on the implications these finds would have on the general understanding of the subject. However, I realize that his audience is better versed in the technical aspects of archaeology and the first question he got did show that the audience was interested in the methodology.

All things considered this was a very good talk about the importance of survey archaeology. The main argument was clear, the examples used to support the argument were effective and the explanation was, despite the technical nature of the subject, surprisingly easy to follow.