Ancient Greek migrants in Sicily produced societies and economies that both paralleled and differed from their homeland. Since the nineteenth century explanations for these similarities and differences have been heavily debated, with attention focusing in particular on the roles played on this frontier by locals and immigrants in Greek Sicily's remarkable cultural efflorescence. Polarized positions have resulted. On one side, scholars have viewed the ancient Greeks as one of a long line of incomers whom Sicily and its inhabitants shape. On the other side, the ancient Greeks have been viewed in a hierarchical manner with the Sicilian Greeks acting as the source of innovation and achievement in shaping their Sicily, while at the same being lesser to homeland Greece, the center of their world. Neither of these two extremes is completely satisfactory. What is lacking in this debate is a basic work on social and economic history that gathers the historical and archaeological evidence and deploys it to test the various historical models proposed over the past two hundred years. This book represents the first ever such systematic and comprehensive endeavor.
It adopts a broadly based interdisciplinary approach that combines classical and prehistoric studies, texts, and material culture, and a variety of methods and theories to put the history of Greek Sicily on a completely new footing. While Sicily and Greece had conjoined histories right from the start, their relationship was not one of center and periphery or "colonial" in any sense, but of an interdependent and mutually enriching diaspora. At the same time, local conditions and peoples, including Phoenician migrants, also shaped the evolution of Sicilian Greek societies and economies. This book reveals and explains the similarities and differences with developments in Greece and brings greater clarity to the parts played by locals and immigrants in ancient Sicily's impressive achievements.