Oxford Journal of Archaeology
Volume 24 Issue 2 Page 115 - May 2005
DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES: ETHNIC DIVERSITY IN SICILIAN COLONIES AND THE EVIDENCE OF THE CEMETERIES
Summary. There have been recent suggestions that an indigenous element in ancient Greek settlements in Sicily can be detected through funerary customs. This paper reviews the evidence for 'indigenous' burial methods in Greek cemeteries, concentrating on multiple, contracted and acephalous burials. It argues that such evidence is limited and open to various interpretations and that while it is highly likely that Greek settlements did incorporate an indigenous population, the funerary record cannot be used as a reliable identifier of such groups. The paper also briefly assesses the evidence for the presence of Greeks deriving from areas other than the historical mother-cities and suggests that such individuals are also very difficult to detect. It concludes that the general impression given by Sicilian Greek cemeteries is one of overall subscription to coherent burial systems, which may be viewed as part of an attempt to forge a unified and independent cultural identity.