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Alternatives to AthensVarieties of Political Organization and Community in Ancient Greece$
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Roger Brock and Stephen Hodkinson

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199258109

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258109.001.0001

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Politics without the Polis: Cities and the Achaean Ethnos, c.800–500 BC

Politics without the Polis: Cities and the Achaean Ethnos, c.800–500 BC

(p.189) 11 Politics without the Polis: Cities and the Achaean Ethnos, c.800–500 BC
Alternatives to Athens


Oxford University Press

Cities have long been perceived as ideal contexts for the development and conduct of complex political relations. Perhaps inevitably, therefore, the study of early Greek urban development has become closely entwined with the origins of the polis. The basic notion of community of place underlies much of our understanding of the relationship between residence and the political needs and solutions of emerging poleis. This is indeed an important area of study, but it should not be confined to the polis as traditionally understood. The issues are equally relevant to the study of ethnē. That archaeological discoveries over the last decade or so preclude simple distinctions between big sites in poleis and ethnē during the Early Iron Age and archaic period (from the 11th to the 6th century bc) should surprise only those rooted in a classical historical perspective. The existence of prehistoric sites which fit abstract models of urbanism has long been noted, along with the need to assess the Greek evidence within the broadest comparative perspective. A rounded understanding of any region must balance comparative and particularist observations. With this in mind, this chapter considers the implications of big site development in ethnē from both a local (specifically Achaean) and a broader Greek standpoint.

Keywords:   cities, poleis, Early Iron Age, big site development

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