Michael Blömer, Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), Aarhus University, will address the topic “A new Macedonia? Redefining urban development in Hellenistic North Syria” in the Danish Institute at Athens.
Hellenistic North Syria is conceived of as a region shaped by newly founded cities, but our knowledge about the development of urbanism and urban biographies in this region is surprisingly limited. Most studies that aim at giving integrated accounts of urban development rely very much on information gathered from literary sources and draw heavily on analogies and circumstantial evidence. The master narrative developed along these lines is that North Syria has been profoundly transformed by the Seleucid kings, most notably by king Seleucus I., who triggered a large scale urbanisation project that revitalized a largely depopulated region. However, the results of recent archaeological research suggest that the urban landscape of Pre-Hellenistic North Syria was more diverse than previously acknowledged. While some of the North Syrian cities can indeed be regarded as new and dis-embedded foundations, it now seems that most of them developed along individual trajectories rather than reflecting a royal strategy.