Collapse or adaptation? The problem of the urban decline in late antique Greece

Florin Curta and Siu-lun Wong

in The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, c. 500 to 1050

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780748638093
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670741 | DOI:
Collapse or adaptation? The problem of the urban decline in late antique Greece

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The examination of the archaeological evidence from the main urban centers of late antique Greece shows that only in a few cases (Thessalonica, Nikopolis) did the ancient urban layout and street grid survive beyond ca. 500. In most other cases, the urban occupation was considerably diminished and re-grouped on a fortified acropolis, while previously grand buildings were turned into modest houses or workshops. Another parallel phenomenon is the appearance of intramural burials, often right in the agora. Neither earthquakes, nor the plague or barbarian invasions can be blamed for this phenomenon, which seems to have been associated instead with the withdrawal of the urban elites and the interruption of long-distance trade connections. When troops and administration were finally withdrawn from the Balkans in ca. 620, most urban centers in Greece were abandoned.

Keywords: Cities; villas; workshops; baths; earthquakes; plague; amphorae

Chapter.  8862 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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