After 600 B.C., few new colonies were formed. Some of the socioeconomic preconditions for the colonization movement had lost their importance and it became clear with the sea battle at Alalia in 540 B.C.E. that the unlimited expansion in the Mediterranean world could not continue in the same way: Carthaginians and Etruscans successfully protected and defended their spheres of influence from outside aggressors. Subsequent colonies, primarily from Athens, have an entirely different character: the settlers from Athens (cleruchs) who went to Lemnos, Imbros, and Skyros remained citizens of Athens. That is, those settlers did not establish a new polis but remained citizens of Athens.

Greek colonization in the archaic period marked the expansion of urban settlements throughout the Mediterranean and into the Black Sea. The way the Greek world understood itself shifted significantly. Despite the not always perfect relationship between the Apoikeis and the metropolis, the Greeks of the homeland and the colonies were connected by a shared identity. The knowledge about the commonalities of certain cults, written and oral language, as well as other cultural values created a conscious platform that can only insufficiently be described by the term pan-Hellenic and certainly distinguished Greeks from non-Greeks (barbarians). The Greek colonization in the archaic period is at the same time a result of particular social and economic crises and emergencies in this epoch. The increasing economic and demographic pressure created new apoikeis – but the search for new and fertile agricultural land was more important than the thirst for adventure. Greeks transferred their newly developed constitutional model of the polis to the new colonies, and helped thereby to spread it in various forms to communities throughout the Mediterranean. Expansion in the archaic period would not be surpassed until Alexander’s campaigns of conquest and the establishment of Greek cities and new empires during the Hellenistic period. Those, however, would emerge from a different set of preconditions and produce other results.

Please send all inquiries to