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Elena Isayev and George Baroud

There is no one discrete term in the ancient world that is equivalent to modern conceptions of “migration” today. Although the English term “migration” is derived from the Latin migratio, English usage, meaning a move across a national border for the purpose of permanent residence, dates to 18th-century North America. In ancient Greece and Rome, there was a wide-ranging vocabulary that referred to a variety of practices relevant to human mobility, and this reflects the cultural, legal, political, and other assumptions and practices surrounding movement idiosyncratic to each society and time period. How migration is conceptualized and practiced is therefore historically specific rather than universal, and we must be careful not to retroject contemporary, anachronistic attitudes, prejudices, and assumptions about migration and migrants onto the past. In the Classical world, for example, there was no equivalent to the national border and its sophisticated apparatus used to control civilian movement. This does not mean that ancient society was necessarily more inclusive, or disinterested in managing populations, but rather that there were different modes of understanding inclusivity, methods of control, and the way that geopolitical space related to these. This signals a different spatial perception from our own, and with it a particular relationship between community and land. As an object of study, migration poses unique challenges: evidence for migration is complex, spread over literary, archaeological, and epigraphic sources, and sometimes based on speculative demographic models. Further, what “counts” as migration is itself a theoretical question subject to interpretation. Realizing this affects how we investigate contingent questions about the agency of the mobile, displacement, or journey endings, not only in relation to antiquity, but in general.