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The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, c. 500 to 1050The Early Middle Ages$
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Florin Curta

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748638093

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638093.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.48) Chapter 2 Collapse or adaptation? The problem of the urban decline in late antique Greece
Source:
The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, c. 500 to 1050
Author(s):

Florin Curta

Siu-lun Wong

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638093.003.0005

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 When troops and administration were finally withdrawn from the Balkans in ca. 620, most urban centers in Greece were abandoned.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

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