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Proud to be an islander: island identity in multi-polis islands in the Classical and Hellenistic Aegean

Constantakopoulou, Christy (2005) Proud to be an islander: island identity in multi-polis islands in the Classical and Hellenistic Aegean. Mediterranean Historical Review 20 (1), pp. 1-34. ISSN 0951-8967.

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This article examines the evidence that inhabitants of islands with more than one polis (city-state) in the Aegean in the Classical and Hellenistic periods identified with their islands rather than with their individual poleis. Island rather than polis identity is expressed in the use of ethnic names in epigraphic and literary evidence from both the island world and outside it. The use of the island ethnic name indicates that politically fragmented islands had a strong sense of unity. This sense of unity was also expressed in action: practices such as minting coins, engaging in political unifications and forming island federations, participating in pan-island cults, and appearing in the form of group assessments in the Athenian Tribute Lists are seen as examples of the manifestation of a common island identity. Examination of attestations of island identity suggests that, although the ways in which this kind of identity was felt and expressed were probably diverse, the geographical separation of islands allowed for islanders to overcome probable local tensions and individual differentiations and seek ways of self-identification and of expression of political-religious-economic collaborations alternative to the polis.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Aegean Sea, ethnic names, insularity, island identity, synoecisms
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
Depositing User: Sandra Plummer
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2007 11:56
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2016 15:27

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