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Title: Contrasting political strategies in the islands of the southern Central Mediterranean
Authors: Stoddart, Simon
Keywords: Antiquities, Prehistoric -- Malta
Biogeography -- Malta
Colonization -- Malta
Social archaeology -- Malta
Issue Date: 1997
Publisher: Accordia research papers
Citation: Accordia research papers. 1997-1998, Vol. 7, p. 59-73
Abstract: The central Mediterranean has been shown to be a good workshop for elucidating the social evolution of islands and larger land-masses because of the variety of the biogeographical contexts and range of socio-economic trajectories in the area. The majority of theoretical studies have, though, concentrated on the theme of colonisation. These range from the early seminal studies of Evans (1973; 1977) to the more recent contributions of Cherry (1981; 1990; 1992) and Fedele (1988). Theoretically orientated studies of ranked and state organised societies that encompass the whole region have been more rare, or expressed in the more traditional format of scholars such as Bernabo Brea who envisaged interaction in the guise of Genovese grain merchants of his father's generation (Bernabo Brea pers. comm.). One book has recently gone beyond colonisation, but stops short of state formation (Patton 1996). In the English speaking world some attention has been paid to Malta and Sardinia, but, until very recently, less to the intervening islands of Ustica, Lipari, Sicily, Lampedusa and Pantelleria (Leighton 1999). The present paper aims to contrast the different island trajectories of Ustica, the Pelagie islands, the Egadi islands, Pantelleria, the Lipari islands, Malta/Gozo and Sicily during the period between the first human colonisation (at a great range of dates) and incorporation within the political world of state organised societies (at a much more uniform phase during the first millennium BC). The departure point is the decidedly different biogeography of the land-masses concerned. No deterministic relationship is intended between geography and socio-political development, but the importance of geography remains, although generally ignored for the last two millennia BC. The challenge is to assess the correct place of the boundary between lawlike predictability and historical contingency.
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