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Household and City Organization at Olynthus

Household and City Organization at Olynthus

Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Household and City Organization at Olynthus
    Book Description:

    Olynthus, an ancient city in northern Greece, was preserved in an exceptionally complete state after its abrupt sacking by Phillip II of Macedon in 348 B.C., and excavations in the 1920s and 1930s uncovered more than a hundred houses and their contents. In this book Nicholas Cahill analyzes the results of the excavations to reconstruct the daily lives of the ancient Greeks, the organization of their public and domestic space, and the economic and social patterns in the city.Cahill compares the realities of daily life as revealed by the archaeological remains with theories of ideal social and household organization espoused by ancient Greek authors. Describing the enormous variety of domestic arrangements, he examines patterns and differences in the design of houses, in the occupations of owners, and in the articulations between household and urban economies, the value of land, and other aspects of ancient life throughout the city. He thus challenges the traditional view that the Greeks had one standard household model and approach to city planning. He shows how the Greeks reconciled conflicting demands of ideal and practice, for instance between egalitarianism and social inequality or between the normative roles of men and women and roles demanded by economic necessities.The book, which is extensively illustrated with plans and photographs, is supported by a Web site containing a database of the architecture and finds from the excavations linked to plans of the site.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13300-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Greek City Planning in Theory and Practice
    (pp. 1-22)

    In this earliest reference to Greek colonization, the basic elements of founding a new polis are already in place: the uninhabited land, the construction of fortifications and the temples of the gods, the division and allotment of agricultural land, and the building of houses, presumably on lots assigned to the colonists like the farmland. In its essence, the process remained basically the same for a thousand years.

    The goal of this chapter is not to provide a history of Greek city planning.¹ Rather, it will consider a few literary accounts and historical cities which develop issues concerning the relations between...

  6. CHAPTER TWO History and Archaeology at Olynthus
    (pp. 23-73)

    Olynthus lies between the westernmost and central fingers of the Chalcidic peninsula in northern Greece, about 2.5 km inland from the sea (figs. 1, 4). The country immediately surrounding the city is rolling fields, well drained and plentifully supplied with water. To the north, the Polygyros hills rise to some 1,000 m.

    The city was built on two flat-topped hills rising 30–40 m above the surrounding plain (figs. 5, 6). The original settlement was on the smaller and more steepsided South Hill. The North Hill was later laid out as a planned settlement with a strict grid plan (see...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Houses Described
    (pp. 74-147)

    The houses at Olynthus take a justifiably important place in the history of Greek domestic architecture. More than 100 houses were completely excavated and published, more than at almost any other Greek site, documenting a range of house layouts and organizations. Moreover, because the city was destroyed so soon after the anoikismos, the houses on the North Hill and the Villa Section underwent less remodeling, and so are more coherent in plan than houses at sites with a longer history. We thus get a clearer look at the partition of the land, at the original designs of the houses and...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Houses Organized
    (pp. 148-193)

    The thirteen houses described in chapter 3 illustrate the versatility of what seems, at first glance, like a very standardized house design. In spite of the general uniformity in plan, individual households arranged and used their spaces very differently. Architecturally similar spaces, such as courtyards, pastades, kitchen-complexes, and the like, could be used in different ways, depending on the specific needs of the household. This diversity is primarily reflected in the assemblages of artifacts found in different spaces, which help us reconstruct how space was used at the end of the household’s life.

    To reduce this diversity to a few...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Organization of Blocks
    (pp. 194-222)

    The greater number of houses at Olynthus share some or all of the organizing principles common to the “type house” and include some or all of the specialized rooms outlined in chapter 4. This general similarity among Olynthian houses has led most scholars to consider only the type house in their treatment of the subject, and to more or less ignore the variety of houses at Olynthus. Most houses at Olynthus can be “explained” with reference to the principles and components of the type; but such explanations consider only their similarity to other houses, not their actual forms.

    The extreme...

  10. CHAPTER SIX The Economies of Olynthus
    (pp. 223-288)

    The debate over the nature of the ancient Greek economy has raged for more than a century, and it remains fundamentally undecided. Depending at least in part on the specific issue in question—maritime trade, banking, subsistence agriculture, exchange, etc.—recent discussions have proposed radically different models. Substantivists, for instance, argue that “the market seems to have played only a minor, peripheral role in the domestic economy of most Greek peasants” and more generally believe that issues we would classify as economic were embedded in social institutions, subordinated to other concerns, such as politics, social status, and independence and self-sufficiency.¹...

  11. APPENDIX ONE Cluster Analysis of Room Areas, Five-Cluster Solution
    (pp. 289-292)
  12. APPENDIX TWO Sales Inscriptions from Olynthus
    (pp. 293-300)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 301-342)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 343-369)
  15. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 370-370)
  16. General Index
    (pp. 371-376)
  17. Index of Houses and Buildings, Blocks, Trenches, and Streets
    (pp. 377-380)
  18. Index of Artifacts
    (pp. 381-384)
  19. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 385-388)