A new Macedonia? Redefining urban development in Hellenistic North Syria

Urban Network Evolutions lecture by Assistant Professor Michael Blömer

2017.02.01 | Ditte Kvist Johnson

Date Tue 09 May
Time 19:00 20:00
Location The Danish Institute at Athens (DIA), Herefondos 14, Athens, Greece


Hellenistic North Syria is conceived of as a region shaped by newly founded cities, but our knowledge about the development of urbanism and urban biographies in this region is surprisingly limited. Most studies that aim at giving integrated accounts of urban development rely very much on information gathered from literary sources and draw heavily on analogies and circumstantial evidence. The master narrative developed along these lines is that North Syria has been profoundly transformed by the Seleucid kings, most notably by king Seleucus I., who triggered a large-scale urbanisation project that revitalized a largely depopulated region. However, the results of recent archaeological research suggest that the urban landscape of Pre-Hellenistic North Syria was more diverse than previously acknowledged. While some of the North Syrian cities can indeed be regarded as new and dis-embedded foundations, it now seems that most of them developed along individual trajectories rather than reflecting a royal strategy.

This lecture, no. 2, is a part of a lecture series by Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (Urbnet), Aarhus University. UrbNet presents the lecture series Urban Network Evolutions at the Danish Institute in Athens in spring 2017, focusing on the development of urban networks and the way in which urban encounters catalysed societal and cultural changes. During a total of six lectures, the subject of urbanism will be elucidated with reference to different geographical contexts: The Middle East, Africa and Northern Europe – as well as different types of evidence/finds: ceramics, metal and water management. Finally, perspectives will be offered on a new approach to the topic: High-Definition Archaeology.

Programme for the lecture series.