Niccolò Savaresi

Rethinking Collapse: the fall of Sybaris (ca. 510 BC) and the transformation of Greek colonial space

The Greek colony of Sybaris, in Calabria (modern Italy), inspired a long literary tradition as city of luxury and wealth already in Classical times, starting from the V century BCE. Despite its fame, however, Sybaris remains a mystery for modern Archaeology for a series of reasons: first of all, the site of the Achaean colony (after its destruction in ca. 510 BCE) was reoccupied by the Athenian foundation of Thurii and, later on, by the Roman city of Copiae, thus covering ancient Sybaris under layers and layers of human presence. Besides this, however, the same geomorphological nature of the area makes every attempt to explore Sybaris even more complicated, because the plain surrounding the site is extremely wet, with a very high water level that floods the excavations approaching the deposits of the Archaic Greek apoikia. For these reasons, today we know very little of the material culture of one of the main colonies in the Western Greek world, besides what we can grasp from the accounts of ancient historians.

The present Doctoral project, however, aims to contribute to the analysis of the context from a new angle. In fact, the site of Francavilla Marittima (CS), and especially the Oenotrian necropolis of Macchiabate, has been at the center of many scientific initiatives now (in particular the excavations conducted by Prof. Dr. M. A. Guggisberg for the University of Basel since 2009) showing how the local indigenous community was part of a lively and intense process of interaction with the Greek city. The data from Francavilla, then, can be read as a reflection of what was happening in the contemporary Greek city, enabling us to cover a wide range of issues.