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Ancient Greek Colonization



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Greeks have moved from their home land at different times and established settlements. Most of Greek settlements were established in the 8th, 7th and 6th century BC. According to Greek writers, causes of the establishment of some settlements were: an escape before the conqueror, the political struggle, the desire for conquest, the Delphic oracle advice.

Individuals have been forced by personal reasons: misery, unhappiness, felony, adventure and more. But the main reason for establishing settlements was overcrowded home city. Classical Greek colonization was preceded by precolonizational period. In which, the sailors and traders formed connection with the foreign world, founded merchant base in foreign countries, individually emigrated and spontaneously prepared the ground for organized colonization.

Dephic oracle
Delphic oracle

The classical procedure for establishing the Greek colonies was ask Delphic oracle for the advice about everything. From the metropoly (home city) it had been moved under the guidance of oikos (usually one, sometimes more). When the land is occupied for settlement, the terrain was measured, the place of the temple determined, and the land was classified according to the position and work ability. Each settler received his own “kleros” which included the ground for the construction of houses and land for processing.

The relation of settlements to the metropoly was regularly marked by loyalty, the relationship of the child to his mother. Sometimes the settlement interrupted connections with the metropolis, and sometimes there was a hostility between them. Blood ties, the same cults and traditions were respected, but the economic interests were more important. Greek settlers were regularly culturally developed than natives in whose land they came so they culturally influenced them.

Cumae was the first real colony founded by Chalcis and Cumaes.