The Dynamics of Belonging

Comparative Community Formation in the East and West Mediterranean


  • Catherine Steidl



community, identity, Iron Age, Ionia, practice theory, western Mediterranean


An archaeology of communities is an effective way to compare interactive dynamics and identities both in localized contexts and at a regional scale. Such an approach brings an especially productive perspective to the study of cross-cultural interaction and mobility, because it allows for the de-centering of ethnicity in favor of practices and interactions. In this study, I explore the divergent regional trajectories of Ionia in the eastern Aegean and the northwestern Mediterranean littoral that stretches between modern Barcelona and Marseille. Both regions were important environments for interactions between Greek-speaking inhabitants and a myriad of other local populations. Ionia developed a strong communal and regional identity and was pulled into the center of the Greek cultural imagination; the northwestern Mediterranean coast, however, did not. Comparing the dynamics of community and interaction in these two areas reveals that the mechanics of interaction and affiliation between a diverse range of inhabitants in each region may not have been so different; rather, the forces that fomented a common Ionian identity likely came not so much from within the region as without. Finally, this comparison highlights the diversity among communities of practice that may be present within a single residential community.





How to Cite

Steidl, C. (2020). The Dynamics of Belonging: Comparative Community Formation in the East and West Mediterranean. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 33(1), 79–101.