ElAnt v11n1 - Debating the Origins of Colonial Women in Sicily and South Italy

Volume 11, Number 1
November 2007


Angela Ziskowski, Bryn Mawr College, USA

In 1975, Giorgio Buchner proposed, on the basis of jewelry from the site of Pithekoussai, that the colony’s women must have been natives of the area, rather than Greek women who made the journey to Sicily and South Italy with their husbands and families. 1 While there has yet to be a consensus on this issue, the scholars who support Buchner (and the possibility that colonizers from Greece married indigenous women from the local areas) have gained the most traction. 2 This paper discusses three separate sites from this region, each of which provides convincing material evidence that Buchner’s original assertion, in favor of hybrid marriages between Greeks and local women, is correct. Mortuary evidence from the graves at Pithekoussai, Metapontum, and Morgantina, including an analysis of the morphological characteristics of human remains and the use of hybrid funerary architecture, lends further support to Buchner’s ideas about the native origins of women at Pithekoussai. Evidence from Pithekoussai would also suggest that this was not a phenomenon unique to the site but rather that intermarriage seems to have been a regional trend.

It was the lack of comparable data from each site that led to the piecemeal structure of this discussion. Scholars have examined particular sites, but a cohesive examination spanning both geography and a wide range of archaeological evidence has up to this point been missing. 3 My approach to the material brings together disparate forms of evidence in different media and contexts from which one can see a valid argument arise. When a holistic methodology is employed, logical conclusions emerge. Each piece of evidence, standing alone, is hardly adequate proof of the indigenous origins of colonial women. However, if one examines data, both diverse and from geographically distant sites, and the information independently supports one side of the debate, then it is reasonable to believe that taken together, the culmination of evidence builds a solid argument. Such is the case with women in the western colonies. I have compiled a range of material which varies from ceramics to mortuary customs to morphological attributes. Analyzed together, they produce a solid and convincing argument. Most importantly, if we accept the native origins of the women of these colonies, we can begin a dialogue on the significance and influence of women on colonial culture.

Studying Colonial Foundations

While a number of cities sent out prospective colonies to Sicily and Italy during the archaic period, there are few historical records discussing the presence or absence of women among these enterprises. Why this was not considered an issue worthy of mention in more ancient texts is difficult to say. Although not specific to Magna Grecia, Herodotus (i.146.2-3) makes a reference to the colony of Miletus that has been used as evidence both for and against intermarriage with native women. He states, “and as for those who came from the very town hall of Athens…these did not bring wives with them to their settlements, but married Carian women whose parents they had put to death.” 4 While a seemingly conclusive statement on the issue, A.J. Graham argues that it could simply be an aetiological story to explain the customs of the women in this colony, who neither addressed nor dined with their husbands, or that Herodotus specifies the fact that they brought no women because it was an exception and not the rule. 5 Regardless of how one interprets this passage, it provides no resolution to the issue since it is the sole instance which refers specifically to this question.

It should also be noted that the concept of intermarriage between Greeks and individuals from other cultures was not particularly unusual. There are many instances of Greeks marrying women from other societies. For instance, Aeschines informs us that Demosthenes’ grandfather, Gylon, married a woman from Scythia. 6

Several important questions arise if the Greeks intermarried with local populations. In part, the significance of determining the identity of the women in these colonies rests on the fact that they were in fact founding colonies intended, among other things, to spread “Greek” culture. If the Greeks did indeed set out to new lands with a predetermined plan to marry local non-Greek women, what does this say about their understanding of cultural identity? Did the colonizers believe that the local women would have no effect on the cultural identity of their hybrid offspring? The issue of intermarriage therefore involves more than simply clarifying local and regional customs or identifying ethnicity, it raises broader issues of self-identity of the Greeks and the role of women in the creation of this identity.

Furthermore, the colonies were not being settled by the Greeks alone in these areas. There is evidence for the presence of Phoenician burials by 750 BCE in the cemetery at Pithekoussai. 7 In addition, there seems to be evidence at this same site for cultural influence from the Levant as well. 8 The multicultural environment at Pithekoussai demonstrates that no society is easily divided into one, two, or more ethnic or cultural groups and this should be ever present in the reader’s mind when examining the material from these sites. Moreover, the presence of foreigners could presumably raise the bar for a colonial Greek’s need for a well-defined and recognizable identity within such a community.

The issues of hybridity at Greek colonial sites add fuel to the ongoing debate involving ethnicity and identity. A group of people is rarely, if ever, homogenous and well-defined. Jonathan Hall has stated that ethnicity can not be physically defined but that it is a social and subjective identifying characteristic of a group and that it needs to be actively “proclaimed and reclaimed” by the group in question. 9 It is also well known that identifying biologically distinct societies based on material culture is difficult, if not impossible. 10 Nonetheless, it is reasonable to assume that the first encounter of two groups, distant both geographically and culturally, might leave a visible mark on the archaeological record, if only temporarily during this first collision of culture. Furthermore, studying the mortuary practices at these sites can reveal an effort on the part of the colonial inhabitants to perceptibly proclaim their cultural identity. Although such material must be approached with a degree of caution, it remains worthwhile to investigate the evidence available in order to better understand the early convergences of separate cultures.

Of the three sites discussed below, Pithekoussai was the first to be founded by Greek colonists. It was established sometime in the eighth century BCE. Metaponto was founded in the second half of the seventh century BCE. Lastly, Morgantina was founded during the second quarter of the sixth century BCE. 11 Accordingly, these three sites will be discussed chronologically. It is reasonable to infer that if the earliest site, Pithekoussai, chose not to bring women to the new colony and participated in the practice of intermarriage, then the later colonies too may have followed in this tradition. Thus the evidence from Pithekoussai will also hopefully aid in supporting the argument of intermarriage at the later sites as well.


Pithekoussai, situated on the north-west extremity of the volcanic island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples, was first settled by Euboean merchants prior to 770 BCE. At some point after this, additional Euboeans must have joined these merchants at this entrepreneurially-advantageous site. 12 The area of the cemetery at Pithekoussai occupies the Valle di San Montano, a valley that is located behind the natural harbor. 13 Excavations have yielded approximately 1300 graves from all its periods of occupation. 14 These tombs make up at most only 10% of the known original burials. 15 Nonetheless, the excavated graves available for study provide ample evidence to support the practice of intermarriage between the Greek colonists and the indigenous population.

Physical human traits from the occupants of these burials provide fascinating insight into the understanding of the origins of colonial women. Tooth morphology plays an important role in the evidence from Pithekoussai, as it does at Metaponto, which I will discuss below. The bifurcation of a tooth’s root occurs when the root divides into two or more separate parts. It is often used to identify different populations since it can vary substantially from group to group. 16 M.J. Becker has extensively analyzed the presence of this trait at Pithekoussai. He has demonstrated that the bifurcation of the root of the maxillary first premolars (teeth in the upper half of the mouth behind the canines and primarily used for chewing) is a dental trait commonly observed among people indigenous to central Italy. 17 It is most common during the period from ca. 900 to 600 BCE. 18 Interestingly, Becker points out that the remains of the earliest inhabitants of Pithekoussai exhibit no evidence for this trait but the later population demonstrates a low incidence of it. 19 This may suggest that the earliest burials at Pithekoussai were not local, but later burials with a low incidence reflect the result of intermarriage and the gradual assimilation of this morphological trait into their genes. While immigration of locals into the urban colony has been offered as an explanation for the presence of this trait, its later appearance can also be explained by the assimilation of the trait into the Greek colony’s population from the heterogeneous offspring of marital unions with the indigenous women possessing this biological characteristic.

Giorgio Buchner’s discussion of the jewelry from Pithekoussai stirred much of the original debate on this topic. He suggested that the fibulae, or garment pins, at the site were of indigenous origin and that it was only logical that women would have controlled the fashion trends of jewelry which were most often meant for them. 20 Such fibulae are found at numerous sites in Sicily and South Italy. The graves at Pithekoussai contain many variations of the most common Italic types of fibulae which include the arched bow with a “swollen leech shape,” a thinner bow on which bone or shell can be threaded, and a “more elaborate type” which assumes a serpentine form. 21 An important fact is that no examples of Euboean types of fibulae have been found at Pithekoussai, nor do any of the varieties found share any resemblance with types known from Euboea or anywhere else in Greece. 22 This discounts the possibility that Greek women came to the area from the mainland and then later developed a taste for the local jewelry because presumably the women would have initially arrived with their own Greek pieces of jewelry of which there is no archaeological evidence. If this were the case, we could expect to find these types in at least some of the earliest Pithekoussan tombs. Moreover, not only do the graves in question contain Italic fibulae, but the Greek foundries from the site also provide evidence for the production of such types. 23 Jewelry found at the colony’s blacksmith quarter on the Mezzavia ridge indicates that the colonists (or hired members of the local population) were making Italic-style jewelry in their own foundries. 24 This implies that either the colonists were making Italic forms (and not Greek forms) for a market that demanded this (local women?) or that the indigenous population was working in the Greek foundries in which case there is additional evidence for intimate contact between the two groups. The absence of mainland Greek forms of jewelry at Pithekoussai is the strongest evidence indicating that no Greek women ever arrived at Pithekoussai. The production of Italic types of fibulae in the Greek foundries also points to a lack of need for Greek women’s jewelry. One then can speculate that the women in the colony were local inhabitants of the area and not women from Greece.

An additional piece of evidence for the practice of intermarriage at Pithekoussai concerns the attribution of Greek-Etruscan names. D. Ridgway has discussed pottery found in the area that was incised with graffiti of names such as Larth Telicles and Rutile Hipucrates. 25 Proper names formed by combining Greek and Etruscan elements provide strong evidence for close, as opposed to casual, relationships between these two communities. The families chose names which identify with both cultures. Since these names do not occur any later than the seventh century BCE, one can reason that initially, as the two populations intermarried, they named their children after both parents’ cultures but gradually the population and cultural differences became harder to identify. 26 Thus the two-culture names disappeared sometime in the seventh century BCE. Moreover, the fusion of Etruscan and Greek cultures coincides relatively well with the adoption of alphabetic writing by the Etruscans around 700 BCE. 27 J.N. Coldstream has pointed out that it would have been very easy for the child of such a union to “start applying his father’s recently acquired literacy to his mother’s language.” 28 These bicultural names provide excellent evidence to suggest that there was a cultural union between the Greek colonists and the native population and that this most likely resulted from marriages between the two.


Metapontum is located on the mainland of Italy on the coast of the Ionian Sea set between the rivers Basento and Bradano. 29 The colony was established by Greeks from another colony, Sybaris, sometime in the second half of the seventh century BCE. 30 Although the site has produced a wide variety of archaeological evidence, the material for this discussion comes entirely from the Pantanello necropolis where over three hundred burials were excavated. 31 These burials present striking evidence for the presence of indigenous women within the Greek colony’s community.

The colony of Metapontum is exceptional in the fact that it is a secondary colony since its mother city, Sybaris, was also a Magna Grecian colony founded by Greeks at the end of the eighth century BCE. Sybaris is located approximately 50 miles south and west of Metapontum. 32 The colonial roots of Metapontum’s original settlers should not drastically influence the issue at hand. If the original Sybaritic colonists had not adopted the practice of intermarriage, then Metapontum would have remained Greek in identity. Therefore one could still examine the question of Greek and indigenous intermarriage at the second site. On the other hand, if intermarriage between Greeks and natives had already occurred at Sybaris, and there is no reason to discount that it could have, then one might wish to argue that this discussion of intermarriage no longer centers on Greeks vs. natives, but that it represents a more general trend in colonization. That is to say, the possibly-intermarried population at Sybaris, which would found Metapontum approximately one hundred years later, would now be a mixed group of Greeks, natives, and their bi-cultural offspring and descendants. Intermarriage can continually be examined at Metapontum (between the mixed descendants of Sybaris and the indigenous populations at Metapontum), it is just a question of which cultures are intermarrying. Although the origin of the Sybaritic colonists questions what societies and identities we may find at Metapontum, the issue of marriage between (Greek) colonist and indigenous local is still present and important.

As at Pithekoussai, an examination of certain funerary remains from Metapontum can add some fuel to this discussion. Mortuary practices represent an important form of display and identity for most cultures. The contracted position of a burial was more commonly a feature of the indigenous, Italic populations while the supine burial was more popular among the Greek colonists. These two types of burial are found uniformly among the graves of both men and women at the necropolis of Metapontum. 33 There is also a consistent lack of evidence for children’s burials among graves of contracted and supine individuals. 34 Moreover, the two forms of burial are found spread across a wide range of ages, excluding small children and infants. 35 Lastly, the supine and contracted burials appear to share a uniform modesty in their form and grave goods. 36 These facts aid in suggesting that there is no reason to believe that the supine and contracted burial forms are representative of a particular or exclusive segment of a single society. Instead, it is more likely that these two burial forms are the product of two different cultures with separate mortuary customs. This is relevant because a group of three skeletons that share physical indications of an identical infectious disease on their bones comes from the necropolis of Metapontum. J. Coleman Carter points out that two of the infected skeletons were discovered in the contracted position while the third was found in the supine position. 37 These three skeletons could represent two separate cultures at the site.

The disease which was discovered on the bones of the skeletons was identified as treponematosis. This is a particular type of disease which originates from the Treponema species of bacteria which is also responsible for modern syphilis infections. 38 Not all strains of this disease necessitate venereal transmission but they do require close contact with the sores of the infected. In fact, modern versions of this disease are most often spread through mouth-to-mouth contact. 39 It is impossible to establish the exact types of contact, sexual or otherwise, necessary for the ancient strain of this disease to spread. Nevertheless, the fact that skeletons from two culturally distinct types of burial share the infectious marks of treponematosis suggests physical (probably sexual) contact among the seemingly distinct groups at Metapontum. It is highly unlikely that two populations would have suffered from an identical infectious disease with no contact between them. Moreover, since the disease is spread through close, physical contact, we can speculate that intimate unions between the colonial and local populations were being formed and responsible for the transmission of the disease between two distinct, burying populations. Although it is not necessary for this contact to result in marriage, it is logical that it could have and it did most likely result in offspring of the two distinct cultures.

In addition to the shared treponematosis between different burial types, the tooth morphology of the Metapontines also suggests that intermarriage may have occurred between the colonial and native populations. The presence of a particular odontoscopic trait at the necropolis can argue again for the gradual amalgamation of the physical traits of these two groups. J. Pinto-Cisternas argues that a concavity present on the mesio-lingual border of the crown of the tooth is a trait with a highly restricted geographic distribution. 40 He refers to it as the “Etruscan upper lateral incisor” because it is found in approximately 30% of Etruscans from the seventh to the first centuries BCE. 41 This number is based on two separate samples, one of forty-seven skulls from Etruscan populations and the other from seventy skulls of a Florentine population from the nineteenth century CE. 42 Interestingly, the skeletal material from the Pantanello necropolis finds this lateral incisor only to be present in 18% of the people buried there. 43 Moreover, the same study examined teeth from thirty cosmopolitan (modern) Greeks. 44 Not one of the Greeks exhibited this trait. This suggests that it would traditionally not be found in a Greek population. If this trait remains consistently present in 30% of the Etruscan population into the first century BCE, the very presence of it and the fact that only 18% of the population at Metapontum exhibited this trait must be due to some fact outside of natural evolution. The low (yet statistically present and significant) occurrence of this trait among the burials at Metapontum suggests an Etruscan presence within the colonial population. The integration of Etruscans, exhibiting the trait, and the colonists, who show no signs of this trait, would offer an explanation for its diminished occurrence at Metapontum. The intermarriage of colonial men to the native women would reduce the presence of such a trait, without eliminating it entirely, which is exactly what one sees in the chora of Metapontum. Such genetic and morphological attributes of the skeletal material provide very convincing evidence that the burials found in the necropolis at Metapontum were made up of a mixed population which had incorporated some of the characteristics of the (Greek) colonists and the indigenous societies already present in the area.


A third site, Morgantina, is located east of the modern town of Aidone in east-central Sicily. 45 The site sits on the Serra Orlando ridge and the cemeteries discussed are on the hill known as the Cittadella. 46 The material available includes the burials and grave offerings of sixty-seven tombs investigated during the American excavations at the site. 47 The site was a thriving indigenous settlement and in the second quarter of the sixth century BCE a flood of Greek material culture (pottery, architecture, and mortuary structures) appears in the archaeological record. 48 It is believed that Greek settlers arrived from one of the coastal colonies, such as Katane, and integrated closely into the local population. 49 Based on the evidence from the burials at the site, it appears as if these Greeks too brought few or no women and found wives among the local Sikel population already present in the area.

Mortuary customs and burial rites are often steadfast and sacred to a group of people. Significant changes in such practices could be attributed to the overwhelming influence of a new culture; such might be the case at Morgantina. The standard form of burial for most indigenous populations in Sicily was the rock-cut chamber that entombed multiple burials. This type of burial dominates the site of Morgantina before the second half of the sixth century BCE. 50 In addition, C. Lyons points out that this type of burial is not attested as a traditional form of Greek burial, either on the mainland or in the colonies. 51 Many other forms of burial suddenly appear at this site when the Greek colonists first arrive. The new forms of burial that appear at Morgantina in the second half of the sixth century BCE include familiar types from the Greek mainland and other colonies. Among these types are fossa graves, tile-built graves, sarcophagi, wooden coffins, enchytrismos burials (child burials within vessels), urn cremations, and soil inhumations. 52 To put it generally, the rock-cut chamber tombs and multiple burials at Morgantina are specific to indigenous forms of burial and all other forms materialized with the arrival of the Greek colonists who preferred single inhumations over multiple burials.

Three major points must be made about the continuity and changes of the indigenous burial practices at Morgantina after the Greek colonists arrived. First, the use of the indigenous rock-cut chamber tomb remains the dominant form of burial in the Cittadella throughout the history of the site, well after the appearance of the Greeks, and this indicates that there was strong continuity in the native population’s culture and heritage. 53 One could argue that this continuity demonstrates that the native population maintained a respected and important role among the Greeks. Nor were they forced into cultural submission and assimilation. There is no question of their consistent and continuous cultural presence and their influence on this new, Greek colony. Second, there is evidence for various types of burial which can be considered “hybrid” funerary architecture, integrating aspects of both the indigenous rock-cut chamber tombs and the numerous Greek burial forms. 54 For instance, one finds among the burials in the Cittadella forms such as chamber tombs with roof tiles and vaulted ceilings, rock-cut sarcophagi in chamber tombs, and chamber tombs containing nails around the bodies which would imply that a wooden coffin had been used. 55 These hybrid burials may belong to hybrid families, made up of Greeks and Sikels of whom neither wished to abandon their own mortuary customs. Lastly, it is also significant that the majority of the purely Greek tomb types were used for the burial of children and infants. 56 This suggests two scenarios: the first, put forth by Lyons, is that the Greek adults who had come to Morgantina adopted many of the native burial rites. 57 But this provides little explanation for the use of Greek burial forms for children and infants. A second scenario explaining this phenomenon is that the children of these proposed unions were now part of both cultures and that there might have been some cultural convention which dictated that a child ought to be buried by the heritage and customs of his or her father, who would have been a Greek. If both parents were non-natives, it would seem illogical for a family to adopt aspects of local, native mortuary rites for their own burials, while demanding a customary Greek burial for their child who actually had fewer ties to Greece than his or her parents. There must be a reason to explain why the adults in the community would change their beliefs and participate in native burial customs while the children did not. The indigenous heritage of the mother can explain part of this and the possibility that a child’s burial followed the customs of the father might account for the rest. The burial customs from Morgantina demonstrate that there appears to have been a cultural fusion between the native and Greek populations at the site. The continuity of native burials, the hybrid tomb forms, and the unique presence of infant Greek burials all suggest that intermarriage might have occurred between the indigenous women and the Greek men who had settled in their territory and adopted many of the local customs.

A second form of evidence for intermarriage at Morgantina, as at Pithekoussai, is the jewelry of the indigenous women, in particular the fibulae, found in the mortuary record of these cemeteries. Once again, the types of fibulae present at this site are all varieties of those common at sites in Sicily and South Italy. What is particularly interesting here is that none of these forms predates the establishment of the Greek colonies in the area. 58 Since these Italic forms appear after the establishment of this colony, it is logical to believe that the Greek colonists are making them. This production of Italic types of fibulae, such as the navicella, clearly reinforces a close connection between the colony and the indigenous inhabitants of the region. As at Pithekoussai, these jewelry forms are Italic and most likely for Italic women.

Although the most compelling evidence for intermarriage at Morgantina is the hybrid funerary architecture, the presence of local jewelry types reinforces the idea that Greeks were marrying local women. The evidence from Morgantina points to the gradual fusion of the two populations and intermarriage is a reasonable consequence of this fusion. The mortuary evidence from Morgantina provides compelling evidence for the practice of intermarriage among the arriving Greek colonists and the established native culture.


The three sites of Pithekoussai, Metapontum, and Morgantina, all provide a range of archaeological evidence in favor of intermarriage between the Greek colonists and local populations. At Pithekoussai one finds a low incidence of the bifurcation of premolars, a trait common in central Italy, which suggests that the genetic traits of the local population were integrated into the Greek colony. There is no evidence of Greek jewelry forms and the Italic types are actually being produced at the Greek site, indicating a preference for this over a Greek style. The complete absence of Greek jewelry implies that Greek women never even arrived here in order to abandon their mainland taste in jewelry. Finally, there is epigraphic evidence on pottery with names containing both Greek and Etruscan components. Later, we find at Metapontum the presence of the Etruscan lateral incisor, a trait found in biological Etruscans, identified in 18% of the buried population here. The reduced presence of an Italic genetic trait in the Greek colony could result from bi-cultural descendants at the site. In addition, both contracted and supine burials, most likely representing two cultures with different burial customs, shared the markings of treponematosis on their bones suggesting that the disease was transmitted through close contact of one culture with the other. At the final site of Morgantina, one sees evidence of hybrid funerary architecture which mixed the mortuary practices of the indigenous Sikels and the Greek colonists. Here also the presence of native jewelry points to the possibility of intermarriage between these two cultures.

One might argue that the lack of comparable evidence across sites weakens the validity of the claims made here. However, it is the broad range of material presented that serves to reinforce the hypothesis that the Greek colonists may have been marrying into the local population. The evidence ranges from morphological characteristics, to epigraphic graffiti on pottery, to unique mortuary practices. The lack of comparable evidence does not come from the fact that the material is unique and unusual to each site. Rather the particular and specific agendas of each site’s excavations are primarily responsible for the types of material which were recorded. By culminating these disparate forms of evidence into one cohesive argument, it is possible to see a picture forming of the relationship which existed between Greek colonists and the locals indigenous to the areas in question.


After presenting the evidence to suggest that the Greek colonists married indigenous women, one must ask what this implies about the ancient Greek notions of identity. One might wish to contend that this act, founding the colonies without women, was not a choice but rather a necessity, arguing that women (and children) were incapable of making the journey. But it seems that to leave behind the family of a male colonist negates the purpose of colonization. Cited as the most frequent reason for a city to found a colony is typically the lack of space and/or food in the mother city. 59 If the polis were trying to alleviate one of these problems, how would it be helpful to send off the men but to leave their families still attached to their land and with fewer means to care for it? Similarly, if famine were an issue, sending only the males would leave their kin still requiring nourishment and with even fewer providers. If colonization were necessary to alleviate strains on a city, it would make most sense for colonies to be founded by intact families who could leave behind homes and property, removing entire kin units of providers and dependents together. For this reason, it may have been a deliberate choice and not a necessity that the colonies were founded without the female component of society.

A.J. Graham proposed that women had to have come to the colonies from Greece in order to fulfill the religious roles that were exclusive to them. 60 While the archaeological evidence presented here indicates that this may not have been the case, it is still important to consider the implications of the Greeks establishing new colonies devoid of the influence and practices of their women. Were the Greeks aware that the process of assimilating women into their colony from another population would gradually change the makeup of their own society?

The choice of the Greek colonists (and most likely the polis which financed the expedition) to establish these colonies without the female portion of their population allows one to speculate if women were considered replaceable by local inhabitants found near the new settlement. It is well known that it was the father’s status, and not the mother’s, that determined whether or not a child could attain Athenian citizenship up until the third century BCE. 61 This fact argues that the Greeks were aware of their cultural identity through heredity by the very fact that they controlled Athenian citizenship by examining the parents’ lineage. Thus one can not argue that they simply were unaware of such ideas. Nonetheless, whether it was due to an ignorance of the transmission of cultural practices, or because the Greeks simply had little concern for such matters, the fact that they would have chosen to intermarry among the native populations in the areas which they settled, and not to bring their own wives and daughters, suggests that they underestimated the influential power of women on the transmission of their own culture and customs.

Although the evidence presented here contends that that the Greeks did indeed marry into the indigenous populations of Magna Grecia, it should be obvious that more work is necessary at sites in Sicily and South Italy, as well as those of other colonies established by the Greeks, in order to carefully identify and discern the societies that were present in the archaeological record. If an archaeological investigation were carried out attempting to identify the distinct societies present at a Greek colonial site, at least culturally if not biologically, one could begin an earnest dialogue regarding the Greek conceptions of self-identity. Until then, we must use the disparate miscellany of evidence available in order to speculate on the nature and intent of the earliest Greek colonial endeavors.


1 G. Buchner, “Nuovi aspetti e problemi posti dagli scavi di Pithecusa,” in Contribution a l’étude de la société et de la colonization eubeenes ( Naples, 1975 ) 59-86.

2 Discussions of Buchner’s work and these fibulae can be found in J.N. Coldstream. “Mixed Marriages at the Frontiers of the Early Greek World,” in Oxford Journal of Archaeology 12.1 (1993) 89-107 and J. Toms, “The Relative Chronology of the Villanovan Cemetery of Quattro Fontanili at Veii,” in Annali Archeologia e Storia Antica (AION) 8 (1986) 41-97.

3 A majority of the authors cited in this article analyze evidence from one site and rarely contextualize this evidence in order to examine broader trends in the western Greek colonies.

4 Herodotus i.146.2-3 tr. A.D. Godley (London and Cambridge, 1946)

5 A.J. Graham, “Religion, Women and Greek Colonization,” Atti Vol. XI, N.S. 1(1980-1981) 293-314.

6 Aeschines, iii, 171-2.

7 M.J. Becker, “Human Skeletons from the Greek Emporium of Pithekoussai on Ischia (NA): Culture, Contact, and Biological Change in Italy after the 8 th Century BC,” in Social Dynamics of the Prehistoric Central Mediterranean ( London, 1999 ) 217-225.

8 D. Ridgway, “Seals, Scarabs, and People in Pithekoussai I,” in Periplous. Papers on Classical Art and Archaeology Presented to John Boardman ( London, 2000 ) 235-243.

9 J. Hall, Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity ( Cambridge, 1997 ) 182.

10 Ibid.

11 Colonial foundation dates are traditionally based on the relative chronology of Thucydides (most established in reference to the battle of Himera in 480 BCE). In more recent times, archaeological evidence has substantiated the accuracy of these dates. See I. Morris, “The Absolute Chronology of the Greek Colonies,” in Acta Archeologica 67 (1996) 51-59 for a thorough summary of this subject.

12 M.J. Becker, “Human Skeletons from the Greek Emporium of Pithekoussai on Ischia (NA). Culture, Contact, and Biological Change in Italy after the 8 th Century BC,” in Social Dynamics of the Prehistoric Central Mediterranean ( London, 1999 ) 217-225.

13 D. Ridgway, The First Western Greeks ( Cambridge, 1992 ) 45.

14 Ibid. p. 46. The chronological range of these graves extends from the 8 th century BCE to the 3 rd century CE of which 493 are from the initial years of the colony’s foundation (called the “Eubeoean” period by Ridgway).

15 Ibid.

16 I. Kovacs, “A Systematic Description of Dental Roots,” in Dental Morphology and Evolution ( Chicago and London, 1971 ) 211-256. This article provides a more in-depth discussion on the bifurcation of the roots of teeth.

17 Becker 1999 . p. 222.

18 Ibid.

19 Tomb 149 provides a specific example of this trait. M. J. Becker, “Human Skeletal Remains from the Pre-Colonial Greek Emporium of Pithekoussai on Ischia (NA): Culture Contact in Italy from the Early VIII to the II Century BC,” in Settlement and Economy in Italy. 1500 BC-AD 1500 ( Oxford ,1995 ) 273-281.

20 G. Buchner, “Early Orientalizing Aspects of the Euboean Connection,” in D. and F. Ridgway (eds.), Italy before the Romans ( London, 1979 ) pp. 29-43.

21 J.N. Coldstream. “Mixed Marriages at the Frontiers of the Early Greek World,” in Oxford Journal of Archaeology 12.1 (1993) 89-107.

22 Coldstream 1993. p. 91.

23 Coldstream 1993. pp. 91-93.

24 Ibid.

25 D. Ridgway, “The Etruscans,” in J. Boardman, N.G.L. Hammond, D.M. Lewis, M. Ostwald (eds.), The Cambridge Ancient History 4, 2 nd edition ( Cambridge, 1988 ) 634-75. While these strange inscriptions occur in the Etruscan language, they refer to Greek pottery shape names such as the askos, reinforcing the multi-cultural nature of them.

26 Coldstream 1993, p. 101

27 Ibid.

28 Ibid.

29 J. Coleman Carter, The Chora of Metaponto. The Necropoleis ( Austin, 1998 ) 2.

30 Ibid. p. 7.

31 The Pantanello necropolis is divided in two areas to the east and west. The western area yielded 276 burials while the ‘Eastern Necropolis’ yielded only 48.

32 J.S. Callaway, Sybaris ( Baltimore, 1950 ) 1-3

33 Carter 1998 pp. 65-66, 555.

34 Ibid. p.64.

35 Ibid. p. 555.

36 Ibid. p. 66.

37 Ibid. p. 168.

38 For more modern material on this disease, one can consult Proceedings of World Forum on Syphilis and other Treponematoses ( Washington, D.C., 1962 )

39 http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic2305.htm Medical website.

40 J. Pinto-Cisternas, J. Moggi-Cecchi, E. Pacciani, “A Morphological Variant of the Permanent Upper Lateral Incisor in Two Tuscan Samples from Different Periods,” in Aspects of Dental Biology: Palaeontology, Anthropology and Evolution ( Florence, 1995 ) 333-339.

41 Carter cites that the material on this particular dental characteristic comes from an abstract presented at the Ninth International Symposium on Dental Morphology, 3-6 September 1992, Florence. It was entitled, “A Morphological Variant of Permanent Upper Lateral Incisor in Two Tuscan Samples of Different Ages,” by J. Pinto-Cisternas, J. Moggi Cecchi, and E. Pacciani. The published article of this presentation is cited in the previous footnote.

42 Pinto-Cisternas 1995 . p. 333-336. The author also cites that the trait is observed in two additional Italic skeletal populations, respectively from Alfedena and Campovolano, through personal communication with A. Coppa.

43 Carter 1998 . p. 518.

44 Pinto-Cisternas 1995 . pp. 336-337.

45 C.L. Lyons, Morgantina Studies. Vol. V. The Archaic Cemeteries ( Princeton, 1996 ) 3.

46 Lyons 1996 . p. 3.

47 Ibid. 1996 p. 7. Many other tombs were excavated during the course of Orsi’s work at the site. However, the information recorded during the excavations from 1957-1989 (a majority of the graves were excavated in 1969 and 1970) by Princeton University is the most complete.

48 C. L. Lyons, The Archaic Necropolis of Morgantina (Serra Orlando), Sicily ( Bryn Mawr College Diss., 1983 )

49 E. Sjöqvist, Sicily and the Greeks. Studies in the interrelationship between the indigenous populations and the Greek colonists ( Ann Arbor, 1973 )

50 Lyons 1996 . p. 15.

51 Ibid. p. 18.

52 Ibid. p. 15.

53 Lyons dates indigenous-style chamber tombs well into the fifth century BC. Ibid. pp. 28, 135-226.

54 Ibid. p. 28.

55 Ibid. Catalogue, pp. 135-226.

56 Ibid. p. 28.

57 Ibid.

58 Ibid. p. 97.

59 A.J. Graham, Colony and Mother City in Ancient Greece ( Chicago, 1983 )

60 Graham 1980 . pp. 293-314.

61 E. Cantarella, Pandora’s Daughters. The Role and Status of Women in Greek and Roman Antiquity ( Baltimore and London, 1987 ) 51.


M. J. Becker, “Human Skeletal Remains from the Pre-Colonial Greek Emporium of Pithekoussai on Ischia (NA): Culture Contact in Italy from the Early VIII to the II Century BC,” in Settlement and Economy in Italy. 1500 BC-AD 1500: 273-281. (Oxford, 1995)

_______, “The Human Skeletons from the Archaic Cemeteries,” in Morgantina Studies. Vol. V. The Archaic Cemeteries: 227-237 (Princeton, 1996)

_______, “Human Skeletons from the Greek Emporium of Pithekoussai on Ischia (NA): Culture, Contact, and Biological Change in Italy after the 8th Century BC,” in Social Dynamics of the Prehistoric Central Mediterranean (London, 1999) 217-225

G. Buchner, “Nuovi aspetti e problemi posti dagli scavi di Pithecusa,” in Contribution a l’étude de la société et de la colonization eubeenes (Naples, 1975) 59-86

_______, “Early Orientalizing Aspects of the Euboean Connection,” Italy Before the Romans (London, 1979) 29-43

J.S. Callaway, Sybaris (Baltimore, 1950)

E. Cantarella, Pandora’s Daughters. The Role and Status of Women in Greek and Roman Antiquity (Baltimore and London, 1987)

J.N. Coldstream, “Mixed Marriages at the Frontiers of the Early Greek World,” in Oxford Journal of Archaeology 12.1 (1992) 89-107

J. Coleman Carter, The Chora of Metaponto. The Necropoleis. Volumes I and II (Austin, 1998)

A.J. Graham, Colony and Mother City in Ancient Greece (Chicago,


_______, “Religion, Women and Greek Colonization,” in Atti Vol. XI (N.S. 1) (1980-1981) 293-314

J. Hall, Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity (Cambridge, 1997)

I. Kovacs, “A Systematic Description of Dental Roots,” in Dental Morphology and Evolution (Chicago and London, 1971) 211-256

C. L. Lyons, The Archaic Necropolis of Morgantina (Serra Orlando), Sicily . Bryn Mawr College Dissertation. (Bryn Mawr, PA, 1983)

_______, Morgantina Studies. Vol. V. The Archaic Cemeteries (Princeton, 1996)

I. Morris, “The Absolute Chronology of the Greek Colonies,” in Acta Archeologica 67 (1996) 51-59

J. Pinto-Cisternas, J. Moggi Cecchi, and E. Pacciani, “A Morphological Variant of Permanent Upper Lateral Incisor in Two Tuscan Samples of Different Ages,” in Aspects of Dental Biology: Palaeontology, Anthropology and Evolution (Florence, 1995) 333-339

D. Ridgway, “The Etruscans” in J. Boardman, N.G.L. Hammond, D.M. Lewis, M. Ostwald (edd.), The Cambridge Ancient History 4, 2nd edition (Cambridge, 1988) 634-75

_______. The First Western Greeks (Cambridge, 1992)

_______, “Seals, Scarabs, and People in Pithekoussai I,” in Periplous. Papers on Classical Art and Archaeology. Presented to John Boardman (London, 2000) 235-243

E. Sjöqvist, Sicily and the Greeks. Studies in the Interrelationship between the Indigenous Populations and the Greek Colonists (Ann Arbor, 1973)

A.D. Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford, 1986)

J. Toms, “The Relative Chronology of the Villanovan Cemetery of Quattro Fontanili at Veii,” in Annali Archeologia e Storia Antica (AION) 8 (1986) 41-97

World Forum on Syphilis and Other Treponematoses. Proceedings (Washington, D.C., 1962)