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Demographic Motives for Colonization

Commercial interests perhaps first induced Greeks to emigrate, but greater numbers of them began to move abroad permanently in the mid-eighth century B.C., probably because the population explosion in the late Dark Age had caused a scarcity of land available for farming. Because arable land represented the most desirable form of wealth for Greek men, tensions caused by competition for good land arose in some city-states. Emigration helped solve this problem by sending men without land to foreign regions, where they could acquire their own fields in the territory of colonies founded as new city-states. Since colonizing expeditions were apparently usually all male, wives1 for the colonists had to be found among the locals, either through peaceful negotiation or by violent kidnappings.

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