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by Archaeology Newsroom

Early urbanization in Greece. The Greek mainland

The article examines how the Greek mainland gradually became urban, mostly in its central and southern regions, during the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC). This is the period known as Early Helladic (EH).The specific questions to be answered are whether or not the first urban centers came into existence during the course of this period, what was the level of urbanization achieved, and what were the different ranks in the urban hierarchy.

The available evidence is reviewed on three spatial levels; those of a) inter-settlement, b)settlement, c) intra- settlement.

There follows an attempt to identify the main characteristics of urbanization on the basis of the material available. Detailed inspection shows that several settlements of the Early Helladic period, and especially in its second and more advanced phase, the EH II, display features generally connected with urbanization, either of a socio-economic character such as increased agricultural production,the specializing of crafts, exchange networks, organization of politics, social stratification, etc., or related to the internal structure and architecture of the settlement such as the big size of public works, monumental architecture of specialised function, etc. These characteristics, however, appear in a rather rudimentary form and, consequently, the stage of urbanization reached by the EH II settlements may be termed formative or early. As far as settlement hierarchy is concerned, the sites can be put into three categories: 1) sites with a rather advanced level of early urbanization, which developed into regional poles or central places, with a cluster of satellite sites spread over a large area around them, 2) sites with a moderate level of early urbanization, which, because of their geographical position, served as autonomous trade-transportation centers, and 3) small satellite communities, where urban traits are almost absent.