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Urbanization in ancient Greece - Essay Example

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Cities are a comparatively new advancement of human culture, boosted by a stable supply of food. The formation of cities was as a result of the need for effort coordination, organization and central authority. …
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Urbanization in ancient Greece
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Download file to see previous pages One key characteristic of these settlements was lack of governmental authority beyond the boundaries of the village (Chant et al, 2000). In addition, these villages did not have any workshops or public buildings. Such egalitarian societies persevered on even after the introduction of agriculture.

The egalitarian societies were stratified and turned into functionally specialized units by the formation of states and urbanization (Chant et al, 1999). This process took place independently in numerous regions of the world, probably starting from the Southwest Asian region, which was very fertile.

The formative era referred to the period between the years 7000 to 5000 BC, which was characterised by urbanization and state development, which complemented each other. Upon the stratification of the egalitarian society, there emerged craftspeople, farmers, soldiers, administrators, merchants and priests, with the cities becoming the civilization focus (Chant, 1999).

In the development of Greece cities, the natural environment as well as the existing technologies played a key role. These cities were built in around the eighth century by the Greeks. Distinguishing how the shape of the buildings in the cities was influenced by the natural environment or the available technologies is not easy. This is because there exists a very dynamic relationship between the natural environment and technology, with each shaping or being shaped by the other.

Military technologies and needs were very important determinants in the layout and growth of Greek cities. Some of the initial cities in Greece grew as a result of pressure since the people needed to defend themselves form their enemies. As a result they were generally located on rocky positions, which were regarded as defensible. They were also positioned some distance from the harbour, with heavy fortification (Chant et al, 2000).

Wall-building proved to be the most expensive and laborious task and involved very impressive engineering accomplishments in the architecture of Greece. Stone was in abundance and was used the building material, with its properties determining the style of construction. For instance, lintels and posts were frequently used in the construction of public monuments.

Stone, which was the building material of choice, needed lifting technologies that utilized people as opposed to hoists (Chant et al, 1999). Cranes were not in use until much later, in 515 BC and beyond. They came into use as a result of labour shortage and not because of their capability of lifting larger blocks of stone.

The unplanned growth of the earliest settlements was substituted by a bit more formal buildings, mainly after Persian attacks in the fifth century. With the advancement of technology in the military, it became necessary to adopt a defensive layout for the city streets. In the process of the reconstruction of these cities, there was development of numerous town planning theories, most of which were put into practice, with the grid plan becoming very common. Aristotle advocated for a city design of a defensive nature, which uses both the irregular and regular features. This, he argued, was aimed at reconciling the strain of moving both the equipment and troops easily, and to confuse any attackers (Chant, 2000).

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