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by Archaeology Newsroom

Social and urban changes that came about before and after the Asia Minor catastrophe

During the three decades of the twentieth century (1914-1940) which began and ended with the two World Wars and culminated in the Asia Minor Catastrophe, a series of events heralding the social, cultural and urban developments that follow are to be detected in all areas. In this period, the so-called ”urban phenomenon” goes through a phase of exceptional importance. The approach to such a complex matter not only has different scientific fields as its starting point , but also leads to many, occasionally conflicting, results. However, the diverse opinions converge into the following conclusions. The relationship of the “centre” to the “periphery” becomes hierarchical, with Athens, the capital, as the commercial, administrative, political and cultural ”summit”. The fleeing of the agrarian population to the cities and the formation of urban working classes, are both connected to overseas emigration and the arrival of immigrants from Asia Minor, and present particularities. The evolution of towns and cities, and mainly of the capital, mirrors this peculiar mode of development. The incoming wave of refugees left its mark both on the country-side and on urban settlements, swelled the numbers both in the working and ruling classes, and contributed to the overgrown development of the capital and to the growth of social inequalities in the capital city. At the same time, the technical progress of the age had a decisive effect on the modern, mid-war towns and cities. The urban tissue undergoes transformations, mainly due to the extreme pressure of the newly arrived population, towns are extended in a controlled manner, there is an increase in settlement and building activity, the basic legislative rules concerning the city’s functions are set. Due to state intervention and the development of private initiative, phenomena both praiseworthy (social housing) and negative (illegal building) appear.

All the above affect the form of the town and city, and their impact can be felt down to our day.