Thursday, March 29, 2007

Culture vs. genes   posted by Razib @ 3/29/2007 03:03:00 PM

From page 56 of Ancient Greece:
...Sometimes the colonists [that is, Greek founders of colonial settlements outside of Greece] enjoyed a friendly welcome from the local inhabitants where they settled; sometimes they had to fight to win land for their new community. Since colonizing expeditions were apparently usually all male, wives from the colonists had to be found among the locals, either through peaceful negotiation for violent kidnappings.

This is the second time I've seen a reference to the non-Greek women who were present at the founding of Greek colonial cities (from Naples to Syracuse in the West to Byzantium in the East). Pretty soon I'll have to dig into the scholarly literature. My interest is stimulated by the fact that I don't know of any aspects of these Greek colonies which were culturally non-Greek (though "in the know" can enlighten me!). That is, it seems that the fathers determined the culture of their children. Of course, later colonial males would have arrived, diluting the impact of the initial hybrid generations, but it seems quantitatively this would pale in comparison to the demographic expansion that the founders would have engaged in. Makes me wonder about the Rape of the Sabine Women. Another factor is of course our perception of the ancient world comes through texts filtered through the preconceptions of the authors, a lot of variation "on the ground" is being elided as common motifs are highlighted.