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  • The Archaeology and Epigraphy of Hellenistic and Roman Megaris, Greece. British Archaeological Reports International Series 1762
  • Laura Gawlinski
Philip J. Smith. The Archaeology and Epigraphy of Hellenistic and Roman Megaris, Greece. British Archaeological Reports International Series 1762. Oxford: John and Erica Hedges Ltd., 2008. Pp. xii + 276, 67 figures, 57 plates. U.S. $132.50. ISBN 9781407302126.

Smith has produced a valuable resource by collecting a variety of evidence and scholarship pertaining to the relatively neglected region of Megaris and arranging it neatly in one place. Although the title suggests restriction to the Hellenistic and Roman periods, a substantial amount of earlier material is also presented in order to place those periods into their wider historical context. This work has much to offer scholars working on Hellenistic [End Page 105] or Roman history in Greece, but those interested in survey archaeology, Attic border forts, the countryside and farmsteads, or government officials and institutions will also find it worthwhile to consult.

The different types of evidence are presented in three main sections: archaeological, historical, and epigraphic. The book opens with a brief introduction summarizing previous scholarship on the region and highlighting the conclusions drawn by the author. The bulk of the remainder of the text is devoted to a catalog of sites and an analysis of the information gleaned from the inscriptions. The short chapter on history (Prehistoric through Late Roman) relies primarily on written sources and acts like a bridge between the archaeological and epigraphic sections rather than an integration.

The archaeological material is introduced by a short chapter on geography and geology. The following detailed catalog of 47 sites representing all periods through Late Roman is certainly the highlight of the volume. The sites are listed by their modern names, and ancient names, when known or proposed, are given after the modern. There appears to be a shorthand in use to indicate the relative security of the identification through parentheses, question marks, and capitalization, but it unfortunately goes unexplained and seems inconsistent. Each entry includes a bibliography, a brief description, an indication of the date range by ceramics, and lists of pertinent finds. The text is heavily supplemented by copious well-drawn plans and maps as well as 46 photographs. Although the site photos are a bit dark and some have the quality of scanned slides, they more than adequately serve their purpose and are a helpful addition to the descriptions. Some of the sites whose identification is disputed are given further space in appendices: Nisaia and Minoa (Appendix A1) and Ereneia (A2). The catalogue concludes with brief, illustrated examinations of routeways and the signaling and defense system. From the data in this chapter, the author is able to draw conclusions about changes in the region over time. Although there was no significant difference in the number of sites for the Classical and Hellenistic periods, there was a decrease between Hellenistic and Roman. However, the type of site is significant: the drop-off occurs for forts and towers, but the numbers for settlements and cemeteries actually show an increase. The situation in Megaris, then, appears different from most other Greek cities. Smith offers some preliminary suggestions to explain this difference in his conclusion (Chapter 5), such as the proximity of Megaris to the Roman capital, Corinth.

Chapter 4 cleverly arranges the epigraphic evidence by themes—political institutions, religious institutions, and international relations. The texts used are not limited to Megaris, and supplementary evidence is drawn from its colonies when relevant. The discussion is divided by time period, but the line of separation between Hellenistic and Roman is never [End Page 106] clarified as it is for the archaeological material (though it is noted that the dates used for each section are different, 11); for a few texts it is not immediately clear why they are in one section and not the other. For the Hellenistic period, the discussion of political officials stands out as particularly informative, especially since it examines them in their Megarian context without overreliance on potentially misleading material from other cities. The discussion of proxeny and arbitration is also effective. The attempt to clarify the local calendar(s) is admirable, but would be helped...


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