The evolution of two archaic Sicilian poleis : Megara Hyblaia and Selinous
This study attempts to revive T.J. Dunbabin's multi-dimensional approach to the history of Early Iron Age Sicily in The Western Greeks (Oxford 1948). Dunbabin recognised that archaic Sicily had no real history, and that any historical account involved combining the very scant documentary record with the fuller and ever-growing body of archaeological evidence to produce a framework for writing social and economic history. These innovative methods ended with Dunbabin, however: today the field is dominated by scholars impeded artificially by disciplinary boundaries, which discourage the productive combination of historical and archaeological sources, leaving a number of important questions in a sort of academic no man's land. In the introduction an overview of the study of Sicily since Dunbabin is given, and Dunbabin's own weaknesses are explored: Dunbabin modelled Greek colonisation in Sicily on modern British colonisation; such a decision strait-jacketed his image of the past, causing him to draw conclusions unacceptable today. The increase in the quantity of archaeological evidence since Dunbabin means that it is no longer possible to make an in-depth study of the whole of Sicily in a single volume. Consequently, the focus has to be considerably more restricted than Dunbabin's; specific questions need to be selected. Megara Hyblaia and Selinous offer two particular advantages for studying the evolution of Greek settlement in Sicily: besides being Megarian, both are sufficiently well explored archaeologically to make historical investigation profitable, but they were founded a century apart on different sides of the island, in different environmental and socio-political contexts. The study itself is divided into two main parts, the first focusing on Megara Hyblaia and the second on Selinous; each of these two parts consists of five chapters, in which the same questions are asked of the evidence from the two sites, for comparative purposes. Chapters I and VI explore the background to settlement, with such subjects as the native world encountered by the settlers at the time of colonisation, pre- and proto-colonial activity, and the respective foundations of the colonies examined. Settlement development is the subject of chapters II and VII; the emphasis here is to monitor the successive stages of the physical growth of the colonies, and also to study the size and nature of the settlement itself. Chapters III and VIII deal with demography (particularly population size). The following chapters (IV and IX) use archaeological and written evidence to reconstruct socio-political history. Chapters V and X investigate environment and economy. In the closing chapter, after a review of the conclusions reached, the question of why Selinous evolved so differently from it mother-city is addressed. The thesis ends with brief consideration of the (Megarian) Sicilian contribution to the study of the polis.