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Staff Profile

Mr Andrew Bonfini

(email at a.m.bonfini@durham.ac.uk)

Topic

Connectivity, Human Mobility, and the Preservation of Greek Cultural Identity in Light of Roman Colonization in Southern Italy and Sicily: 3rd century BC- 1st century AD

Abstract

My research aims to provide a new explanation for the preservation of Greek cultural elements following the Roman colonization of former Greek sites in Southern Italy and Sicily beginning in the 3rd century BC. With the continued rise in interest in the subjects of human mobility, connectivity, and cultural exchange throughout the Roman Empire, a need has developed to link these topics to the Roman colonization of Greek sites. Currently, many reasons have been put forward by previous research focusing on the maintenance of Greek culture in Roman colonies that occurred at sites like Syracuse and Catania in Sicily and Paestum in Southern Italy following Roman colonization. Of these arguments, the most discussed involve an idea that Roman elites had a collective belief that, by preserving traces of Greek culture at these sites, they were reaffirming an idea that Rome is the successor of a legendary Greek past and thus highly prestigious. Many of the other conclusions have argued related rationalization for the preservation of Greek elements including a theory that Roman elites were actually required to demonstrate an understanding/appreciation of Hellenic culture in order to be considered a member of the aristocracy. One way for these elites to accomplish this was to construct buildings at colonial sites with the preceding Greek culture in mind.

 The primary purpose of my investigation is to step away from these previous conceptualizations and instead focus on how a possible continued connection with the Hellenic world contributed to Greek cultural identity remaining at Roman colonial sites in Southern Italy and Sicily. In order to accomplish my aims, I approach several questions related to my research. These involve definitions of colonialism, connectivity, human mobility, and cultural identity and providing a link between the four. I also address the issue of viewing human mobility and connectivity archaeologically and how the evidence from colonial sites in Southern Italy and Sicily reflect a continued connection with the Hellenic world.

I am hopeful that my research will contribute to ongoing debates and re-evaluations of Romanization and the cultural processes that followed conquest and absorption of populations into the Roman Empire. As this is always a heavily discussed topic, I aim to provide a new angle to view the subject from.

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