Euboeans abroad. Some critical thoughts
- Schmid Stephan G.
Discussion about the intensity of Euboean participation in long distance trade, especially in the 8th century BC, can be considered something like a never ending story. Interestingly, the arguments, or more precisely the evidence used in order to back up the different theories, are essentially the same since many years. It is basically Euboean pottery found around the Mediterranean shores that is used to demonstrate that the Euboeans were the dominant “global players” in the growing Mediterranean market of the 8th century BC. The same potsherds are also used in order to strengthen the theory according to which the Phoenicians were the masters of these commercial mechanisms. And, although more seldom, moderate voices do again recur to the same pottery finds in order to argue that things were probably not that simple and that we should try to find more differentiated models for understanding supra-regional trading activities in the Iron Age Mediterranean. This situation is mostly due to a rather selective and subjective handling of the evidence, i.e. the Euboean potsherds found outside Greece. Some recent finds of Euboean pottery in areas formerly not included in the discussion are the starting point for a new approach. One urgently needed objective is a systematic catalogue of Euboean pottery in the Mediterranean, including quantitative information in relation to the respective archaeological contexts. Since this is an undertaking that needs a longer haul than can be provided in the frame of a conference paper, we shall for the moment focus on some methodological issues. These are mainly dealing with the interpretation of Greek pottery and imitations of Greek pottery in the Mediterranean area. When examining approaches towards similar phenomena related to Corinthian and Athenian pottery, the picture about the distribution of Euboean pottery is likely to sharpen as well. At first sight, new finds and their contexts seem to confirm a more Phoenician-related pattern of distribution, but further verification is needed.
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