Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.07.22

E. Olshausen, H. Sonnabend, "Troianer sind wir gewesen" -- Migrationen in der antiken Welt. Stuttgarter Kolloquium zur Historischen Geographie des Altertums 8, 2002.   Stuttgart:  Franz Steiner Verlag, 2006.  Pp. 431.  ISBN 10: 3-515-08750-8.  ISBN 13: 978-3-515-08750-6.  €78.00.  

Reviewed by Jacek Rzepka, Warsaw University (
Word count: 2601 words

Table of Contents (also at the end of the review)

The Stuttgart Conferences on the Historical Geography of the Ancient World have already a well-established tradition. The present volume collects 35 papers given at the eighth conference in May 2002. Like earlier events in this series, the 2002 meeting also had a particular theme. This time the convenors brought together scholars from five countries to talk about migrations in the ancient world. Troianer sind wir gewesen--Troes fuimus -- the very title given to this event, being a quotation from Virgil, may suggest that its focus was the impact of migrations on both individual and collective identities. Although it is true for some papers, the meeting resulted in a highly diversified volume, full of different, sometimes interdisciplinary, approaches, and dealing with a variety of themes from the ancient world widely defined (and from reception studies).

Diversity of approaches did mot make the editors' task easy, and the arrangement of the book is not obvious: neither chronological nor geographical order is followed. As it seems, however, the editors tried to divide the volume into two parts, the first consisting of papers with a generalizing tendency, and the second consisting of case-studies. Of course, some overlap between the two parts and between papers by different scholars dealing with the same or closely related episodes cannot be avoided. It appears that the most studied ancient population shifts or migration-related events are today the Trojan War, the Greek colonization of the Dark Ages and the Archaic Period, the Greek conquest of the Hellenistic East, and, last but not least, the German Wanderungen. Similarly, some general problems of migration studies recur in this book, illustrated by different historical examples. For example, we can find in this volume a few studies of links between the military and the migrations.

The book reviewed here shows how much can be included in the definition of migration. Those attending the conference talked not only about migration movements lasting over many generations, like the great phenomenon of Greek colonization at the end of the archaic period or the German wanderings, but also were interested in individual migration decisions. Thus the heroes of this volume are pirates, soldiers (especially mercenary ones), craftsmen or fugitives. However, some of the cases analyzed here can be hardly labeled as migrations. Thus it is difficult to include in this category people traveling to consult the Delphic oracle (studied by Veit Rosenberger, pp. 194-199). The same can be said about medieval tourists looking for ruins of Troy (admittedly, the text by Folker Reichert is interesting and highly instructive, and even if it does not fit the general theme very well, it fits the conference's title perfectly).

Some dangers of the too-widely defined problem are analyzed in the first paper by Werner Peukert dealing with terminological and methodological questions. He proposes to replace the term "migration", which is usually seen from the point of view of the non-migrating, with the term Bevölkerungverschiebung (population shift, pp. 12-13). However, his warnings were not heeded by all contributors to this volume, and with rather bad results. Another model study is the paper by Herbert Grassl on the logistic side of ancient migrations. He starts from the iconography of Egyptian carts, and then discusses Celtic and Gothic migrations -- his special focus is the numbers of ancient trekkers and the speed of ancient travelers and armies. Having concluded that a mass trek was difficult in the ancient world, Grassl stresses that migrating peoples of antiquity needed a strong impulse or a strong leader (or better both these things) to move.

There are other interesting papers or discussions in the book reviewed here. The latter category can be exemplified by two chapters dealing with the same, old and still debatable question of Homeric geography, i.e. the site of Scheria. Armin Wolf proposes southern Italy, whereas Heinz Warnecke argues for Thesprotia. Wolf suggests that the city of Phaeacians was lying in narrowest part of Calabria, and that the Phaeacians of the Odyssey were simply Phoenicians. Their strange name must have been borrowed -- so Wolf -- from an older version of the myth of Odysseus. Warnecke argues for the Greek descent of Phaeacians, who were settled in Thesprotia as the earliest colonists coming from Euboea. It is difficult to vote for one of the above attempts at localizing Scheria (for most classicists it belongs to the Märchenwelt). At least, the geographical side of Wolf's argument is more convincing, and finds support in the remarks of Domenico Musti, who discusses Greek colonial settlements at isthmuses and straits (it was a wise decision of the editors to place Musti's text immediately after the two voices in the Scheria debate).1 In another "Trojan" paper Gian Franco Chiai studies the archaeological remains (pottery mainly) from the Dark Age Troad. He concludes that peoples migrating from Thrace to Asia Minor in the late Bronze Age retained their culture for a few generations. However, after the epoch of Balkanization the newcomers took over the local Anatolian culture. The same can be said also about the northern Aegean islands, especially Lemnos and Samothrace, where invaders from the Balkans were assimilated to their Aegean neighbors.

Whereas attempts at localizing Scheria and related discussions are grouped together within the book, the same cannot be said about papers dealing with Greek colonization or Hellenistic migrations, which are dispersed over the volume. Some of them are significant contributions to our understanding of ancient history. Thus Michael Kerschner taking Ephesus as his model analyzes the Ionian colonization in Asia Minor. Having confronted the archeological data and literary sources, Kerschner is able to indicate a significant degree of agreement between archaeology and the authors (including the date of foundation in the mid eleventh century B.C.). However, such confrontations are not easy, and whereas Kerschner produces a model work, others can be deceived by the naive belief that Greek myths reflected their past exactly.2

Wolfgang Orth in his paper discusses the reasons for the Greek conquest of the East as seen by Isocrates, and tries to explain the contradictions of Isocratean thought: the Athenian thinker praised the Athenians for their autochthony (p. 95), considering it as their main entitlement to the leadership in Greece, and he advertised conquest and resettling programs to others, especially to Philip II of Macedon (pp. 95-97). A population shift to the East was to be the best remedy for social crisis in Greece. While Orth investigates the intellectual background for the Macedonian conquest of Persia, Ulf Scharrer's contribution (pp. 336-363), analyzing its aftermath, could be the best response to Orth's conclusions. Scharrer points out that, although it is impossible to give a rough estimate of numbers involved in the Greco-Macedonian migration (or migrations) to the east, many other aspects of this population shift can be studied. Scharrer's conclusions are, therefore, also his research postulates (pp. 361-363). It is possible, therefore, to differentiate between collective and individual migrations, or to study Achaemenid colonization (Greek settlements included).

Orth's paper is followed by a study by Angelos Chaniotis (one of the best in this volume) explaining a general problem with a micro-scale example. Chaniotis uses Crete (this choice is hardly surprising) as a test case to show how the Hellenistic wars affected migrations. On the one hand, external (pp. 98-9) and internal (pp. 99-100) wars, piracy (which was close to the military practice of the Cretans) (pp. 100-101) and mercenary service abroad (pp. 101-103) were factors causing or intensifying migrations. On the other hand these migrations, especially enforced ones, did not destroy old identities easily, and emigrants retained their hope of return for a long time (p. 103).

Orth and Chaniotis draw readers' attention to reasons for migration. As it seems, in the editors' plan these motives were the central focus of the conference. One of the editors, Holger Sonnabend, presents an interesting contribution, in which he applies some devices of modern migration studies to Herodotus' account of the Lydian/Etruscan migration to Italy. He underscores that Herodotus' account includes most of the elements known from history of other ancient migrations. However, among the reasons for this particular movement, the push factors outweighed the pull factors.

Reasons for migration are also dealt with, however indirectly, by Kai Ruffing, who analyzes the regional mobility of merchants and craftsmen in the Greek Mediterranean. The Greek inscriptions he uses, allow a conclusion that craftsmen and businessmen often changed their place of residence, especially in the Roman period. However, the author promises a more detailed study of economic factors behind these migrations (or just travels). The same problem was seen from a much wider perspective by Karin Hornig, who underlines macro-political reasons for craftsmen's travels (e.g. the attractiveness of rulers' courts or armies).

Military need as a reason for migration returns in the paper by Heinz Herzig about the Roman legionaries serving in remote wars of the Republic and in border areas of the Empire. The author stresses that already in the second century B.C. there was a significant mixed population resulting from illegal marriages of Roman soldiers and local women, and that the problem of this novum genus hominum intensified under the Empire. Among classical Roman questions analyzed in this volume we can find also the problem of exile under the Principate seen from the geographical perspective (Frank Stini). Stini's special focus is relegatio or deportatio in insulam. He warns that we cannot safely estimate the scale of this phenomenon in the first two centuries of the Empire (a catalogue of those exiled to islands would be helpful), and successfully establishes the mutual link between the harshness of the punishment (i.e. the inaccessibility of a place of banishment, the living conditions) and the emperors' policies (rather than a crime). Banishment in Rome (in actual fact the exile of three great Latin writers) is the starting-point of Eckart Olshausen analysis of patria as Heimatbegriff. He compares the use of the word patria in Cicero (pp. 316-321), Ovid (pp. 321-322) and Seneca (pp. 322-323). Not surprisingly in Cicero and Seneca the political understanding dominates, whereas Ovid's patria is highly private, and consists of loved women, relatives and friends, and people of his neighborhood. However, Cicero knows this less political dimension of patria, too -- his alternative Heimat is Arpinum. We cannot find a similar reminiscence of Spain in Seneca. His construction of patria is purely political, a combination of Roman civic ideology and Stoic cosmopolitanism.

Not surprisingly, another area/people that attracted numerous scholars in Stuttgart is Germania and the Ancient Germans. Franz Schön re-approaches a famous passage from Tacitus' Germania on the origins of the Germani.3 He concludes that Germani cannot be understood as an old proper name, and it is a form of cognomen (underscoring a blood relationship) added to the names of certain peoples. The author suggests also that the inventor of this name was C. Iulius Caesar, and it was only in the age of Augustus that the new name was accepted by the Germans themselves. The instability of German tribes and the continuous character of ethnogenetic processes in the German-inhabited area are also underscored by Klaus Tausend, who argues that, as far as social processes are concerned, the epoch of Völkerwanderung in the 3rd and 4th century AD did not differ except for the scale from earlier periods of German migration. German tribes were always transformed groups of warriors following (gefolgschaftlich organisierte Gruppen) great military leaders (Heereskönige).

As has been stated, the diversity of themes discussed during the Stuttgart conference in 2002 certainly posed a problem for the proceedings' editors. It also makes a continuous reading of this volume difficult. As regards its consistency, Troianer sind wir gewesen is much closer to a journal than to an average publication of conference papers. The different length of printed texts, ranging from 4 to more than 20 pages, certainly did not reflect the original slots for papers, either. What makes this book more similar to conference proceedings is the rather uneven level of contributions: important and well-argued texts are neighbors of much weaker papers, some of which search for simple explanations, and, as a consequence, are methodologically unacceptable.

Also the presentation of the book does not satisfy in full: uncorrected or not-copy-edited texts, as well as the small type size and the low-quality maps and illustrations, do not help the reader to follow even the better papers.

Table of contents:

Eckart Olshausen, Holger Sonnabend, Vorwort (p. 7)

Werner Peukert: Migration und Fremdheit (pp. 9-13)

Herbert Grassl: Zur Logistik antiker Wanderbewegungen (pp. 14-19)

Armin Wolf: Odysseus im Phaiakenland -- Homer in der Magna Graecia (pp. 20-53)

Heinz Warnecke: Die homerische Hafenstadt der Phaiaken -- Das Idealbild einer frühen ionischen Kolonie? (pp. 54-69)

Domenico Musti: Fondazioni coloniali su istmi e su stretti (pp. 70-76)

Jost Knauss: Migrationen nach der griechischen Sintflut 1529 v.Chr. (Beispiele aus Mittelgriechenland) (pp. 77-89)

Wolfgang Orth: Autochthonie und "Ostkolonisation". Zum politischen Konzept des Isokrates (pp. 90-97)

Angelos Chaniotis: Die hellenistischen Kriege als Ursache von Migration: Das Beispiel Kreta (pp. 98-103)

Holger Sonnabend: Herodot und die Auswanderung der Lyder nach Italien im Licht der modernen Migrationsforschung (pp. 104-107)

John Bintliff: Multi-ethnicity and Population Movement in ancient Greece: Alternatives to a world of 'Red-Figure' People (pp. 108-114)

Stefan Faller: Von Troia nach Indonesien (pp. 115-132)

Kai Ruffing: Die regionale Mobilität von Händlern und Handwerkern nach den griechischen Inschriften (pp. 133-149)

Andreas Gutsfeld: Das maurische Schreckgespenst. Der Nomadendiskurs als Motiv der Herrscherkritik bei Prokop (pp. 150-157)

Gerhard H. Waldherr: Lagua(n)tan und Austur -- Invasion aus dem Osten oder Ethnogenese ,vor Ort' (pp. 158-166)

Franz Schön: Germanen sind wir gewesen? Bemerkungen zu den Tungri und Germani Cisrhenani und zum sogenannten taciteischen Namensatz (Tac. Germ. 2,2) (pp. 167-183)

Giacomo Manganaro: Il S. C. dei Lanuvini per il rinnovo della "parentela" con i Centuripini (pp. 184-193)

Veit Rosenberger: Die geographische Herkunft der Klienten des delphischen Orakels (pp. 194-199)

Karin Hornig: Wandernde Künstler und ihre Rolle in Migrationsprozessen (pp. 200-210)

Oleg L. Gabelko: "Phaennis' Oracle" (Zosim. II. 36-37) and Galatians' Passage to Asia Minor (pp. 211-228)

Peter Kehne: Kollektive Zwangsumsiedlungen als Mittel der Aussen- und Sicherheitspolitik bei Persern, Griechen, Römern, Karthagern, Sassaniden und Byzantinern -- Prolegomena zu einer Typisierung völkerrechtlich relevanter Deportationsfälle (pp. 229-243)

Linda-Marie Günther: Späte Migranten. Das südliche Tyrrhenische Meer und die Griechen im 6. Jh. v. Chr. (pp. 244-249)

Michail Vysokij: Migration in the archaic Sicily (first part of the Vth century B. C.) (pp. 250-256)

Folker Reichert: Wanderer, kommst du nach Troia. Mittelalterliche Reisende auf den Spuren Homers (pp. 257-275)

Gian Franco Chiai: Völker, Sprachen und Kulturen der Troas in der archaischen Zeit (9.-8. Jh. v. Chr.) (pp. 276-290)

Pedro Barceló-Juan José Ferrer: Die Phokäer und die Iberische Halbinsel (pp. 291-299)

Frank Stini: Exil in der römischen Kaiserzeit (pp. 300-309)

Iris von Bredow: "Sie luden auch die Götterbilder aus den Tempeln ein und fuhren davon"-- Probleme des Kultes bei der Migration (pp. 310-315)

Eckart Olshausen: Patria als Heimatbegriff (pp. 316-324)

Heinz E. Herzig: Novum genus hominum: Phänomene der Migration im römischen Heer (pp. 325-328)

Silke Knippschild-Vera Sauer: Wandernde Götter und ihre Bewirtung (pp. 329-335)

Ulf Scharrer: Die Einwanderungen griechischer und makedonischer Bevölkerungsgruppen in den hellenistischen Osten (pp. 336-363)

Michael Kerschner: Die ionische Wanderung im Lichte neuer archäologischer Forschungen in Ephesos (pp. 364-382)

Michele Cataudella: Nomadi e Greci nel lontano Oriente fra III e II secolo a. C. (pp. 383-392)

Klaus Tausend: Wanderungen vor der Wanderung. Migrationen und Ethnogenese im germanischen Raum (pp. 393-401)

Ida Maria Gulletta: Kamikos/Lykos/Halykos. Da 'via del sale' a 'confine' tra le due eparchie (note di geografia storica nella sicilia centro-occidentale) (pp. 402-423)

Register: Antike Personen, Götter und Heroen, Nicht antike Personen, Sachen, Geographica, Volksstämme udgl. (pp. 424-431).


1.   Trojan motives recur in three other papers. Two of them are hardly close to the theme of ancient migrations: Stefan Faller investigates similarities between the myths of Java and the story of Troy -- he is able to exclude direct and mutual influences, but assumes that some motives could be transmitted by the Indians or Arabs. The inappropriateness of Folker Reichert's very good text has already been mentioned.
2.   E.g. Jost Knaus studying the influence of the Great Flood in 1529 B.C. on relocations of population in central Greece (Lykoreia in the area of Parnassos and lost settlements in Western Kopais) to conclude that the existing Greek myths trace some memory of these nature-enforced migrations. This, needless to say, seems unlikely.
3.   The relevant sections of Germania are 2.1 and 2.3; Schön seems to write 2.2 by mistake.

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