Archaeology and the Study of the Greek City

Anthony Snodgrass

in Archaeology and the Emergence of Greece

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623334
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653577 | DOI:
Archaeology and the Study of the Greek City

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For more than a hundred years, people studied the Greek city as an entity without making more than negligible use of archaeological evidence. As late as 1969, in the translated second edition of Victor Ehrenberg's Der griechische Staat, the reader has to search very hard indeed to find even a veiled recourse to archaeology. The historians of the polis saw themselves as dealing essentially with an abstraction. Today, all that appears to have changed. Some books on aspects of the polis are being written by historians who make constant reference to archaeological findings; others are even written by archaeologists. A good starting-point for the discussion is the primary importance that Aristotle attached to a ‘community of place’ — perhaps the earliest clear acknowledgment that the abstraction of the polis had an inseparable physical embodiment. Colonial sites are the first to manifest a sign of communal action: the planned layout of an urban centre, with an agora, blocks of housing, and even individual plots provided for; Megara Hyblaia in eastern Sicily has become a classic instance.

Keywords: Megara Hyblaia; archaeology; Sicily; polis; Aristotle; community of place; agora; urban centre; housing

Chapter.  7749 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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