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Greek in Italy

Greek in Italy is an AHRC-funded research project based in the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge. The project will run from January 2014 – December 2017.


The Project

In the course of the first millennium BC Greek sailors, traders and colonists visited and settled in the Italian peninsula in increasing numbers. The southern half of Italy became known as ‘Big Greece’, both by Romans (Magna Graecia) and Greeks (Megalē Hellas). Greek settlements in Italy are attested from the 8th century BC onwards, and there is evidence for Greek trade from even earlier. Greeks brought with them urban living, religion and wine drinking, the alphabet and its associated uses. Some cities of Italy, including Naples, Rhegium and Tarentum, remained Greek speaking even under Roman rule.

Substantial archaeological and textual discoveries in the last three decades have opened up our knowledge of the Greeks in Italy and the native societies they encountered, but there has been no complete study of the impact made by Greek on indigenous languages - this project aims to fill this gap. We will consider the nature and outcomes of contact between Greeks and speakers of the various native languages of ancient Italy, investigating the changes on the languages themselves, and relating linguistic interactions to social and political factors.


Our Aims

  • To understand the nature and long-term effects of language contact between Greek and other languages of Ancient Italy.
  • To understand the spread of the Greek alphabet among non-Greek speaking communities.
  • To investigate the nature of the Greek spoken in towns in Southern Italy, and compare this with developments in the rest of the Greek world.
  • To integrate issues of linguistic contact and linguistic borrowing into the discourse of archaeologists, historians and other scholars working on Greek colonization in Italy, and to promote dialogue between linguists and other scholars.


Find Out More

You can find out more about the members of the project on the “Members” page.

You can also follow our blog to find out more about our work and hear about upcoming talks and events:

Or follow us on Twitter: @GreekInItaly

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Vacancy - Research Associate, ‘Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems’ Project (CREWS)

Oct 20, 2016

Applications are sought for a Research Associate who will be a member of the ‘Contexts of and Relations between Early Writing Systems’ (CREWS) project, led by the Principal Investigator Dr Philippa Steele.

How to write a Greek Dictionary

Oct 06, 2016

Watch the film about the Faculty's Greek Lexicon Project, working towards a a new dictionary of Ancient Greek.

New Discovery

Sep 20, 2016

Professor Jack Davis and Dr Sharon Stocker (Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati), ‘Sometimes All That Glitters Is Gold: The Tomb of the Griffin Warrior at Pylos’, 5 pm on Monday 10 October in Room LG.17, Faculty of Law, Sidgwick Site. To reserve your place please reply to by Monday 3 October.

Temporary University Lectureships in Classics (Ancient History)

Aug 31, 2016

Applications are welcome for two temporary lectureships in Classics (Ancient History) from 01 January 2017. Please see the Jobs & Vacancies page for further information.

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