9 - The Iron Age in the Western Mediterranean Cambridge Histories Online - Cambridge University Press

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9 - The Iron Age in the Western Mediterranean

pp. 242-276

  • Publisher:
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Print Publication Year:
  • 2007
  • Online Publication Date:
  • March 2008

  • Hardback ISBN:
  • 9780521780537
  • Online ISBN:
  • 9781139054140
  • Paperback ISBN:
  • 9781107673076


The economic history of the Iron Age in the western Mediterranean is a complex tale in which encounters and entanglements between diverse indigenous peoples and foreign agents from several expanding states of the eastern and central Mediterranean played a recurrent and crucial role. The chronology, nature, and consequences of these encounters have been the subject of a great deal of historical and archaeological research for many years. The last decade, in particular, has witnessed not only a significant increase in the quantity of archaeological data bearing on these issues, but a transformation of interpretive perspectives and theoretical discussion. However, despite these improvements, there remain major gaps in, and problems with, the data that present serious difficulties for writing economic history.

One significant problem with the important, but patchy, textual record is that it comes almost exclusively from one of the several foreign colonial agents involved in the region (i.e. Greek sources). This has resulted in a tradition of strongly Hellenocentric historiography. But Greek economic history in the western Mediterranean can be properly understood only if it is contextualized within a larger social landscape in which Greeks were, in many instances, of marginal importance (except to themselves). Moreover, it must be recognized that Greeks were as much transformed as they were agents of transformation in the dynamic history of encounters in the region.

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