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Athens, History  

Simon Hornblower

Tradition held that *Theseus was responsible for the *Synoecism , in the political rather than physical sense, of the Athenian (Attic) state. More prosaically put, this would imply a unified kingdom, centred on Athens, in the late bronze age. But if there was any such kingdom it did not survive the collapse of Mycenaean civilization, and the synoecism is now generally put c.900bce, after a tumultuous period in which refugees from Attica settled in Ionia (see ionians ) from c.1050 bce onwards. Athenian imperial *Propaganda later exaggerated the organized character of this process, turning it into a movement of *Colonization which would justify the *Metropolis making hegemonical demands of the ‘daughter-cities’. Another later propaganda item was the myth of ‘autochthony’ (Attica had ‘always had the same inhabitants’). This was false, but useful for scoring off the *Dorian ‘newcomers’. See autochthons .The Attic countryside was settled from the centre in the 8th cent. by ‘internal colonization’: Athens was not among the first genuinely colonizing states. The early Attic state was aristocratic and politically hardly distinctive. There was nothing even embryonically democratic about the annual *archontes who began in 684/3 bce and were the chief officers of state: Thuc.


Athens, Prehistory  

O. T. P. K. Dickinson

The more substantial remains of later periods have largely effaced prehistoric settlement evidence, apart from subterranean features like tombs and wells. The distribution of these suggests that there was a nucleus of habitation on and around the Acropolis, particularly to its south, and a wider spread of hamlets and farms. The settlement's earlier history is obscure, but it clearly became one of the more significant Mycenaean centres (see mycenaean civilization), as indicated by wealthy 14th-cent. bce tombs and the later 13th cent. bce fortification and water-supply system on the Acropolis. Twelfth-cent. remains are scanty, but cemetery evidence indicates a wide spread of communities, mostly small, by the Submycenaean phase; overall, the evidence offers no support for the theory that Athens attracted large ‘refugee’ groups.



Oswyn Murray

Polis (pl. poleis), the Greek city-state. The polis is the characteristic form of Greek urban life; its main features are small size, political *autonomy, social homogeneity, sense of community and respect for law. It can be contrasted with the earlier Mycenaean palace economy (see mycenaean civilization), and with the continuing existence of tribal (ethnos) types of organization in many areas of northern Greece. (See ethnicity. For a different sense of ‘tribe’ see below.) The polis arose in the late Dark Ages. It is present in *Homer; the archaeological signs of city development (public space, temples, walls, public works, town planning) appear in an increasing number of sites in the 8th–7th cents. (Old *Smyrna, *Eretria); the peaceful abandonment of smaller sites and the general decline of archaeological evidence from the countryside in the 7th cent. suggest early *synoecism or concentration of population in specific polis sites.



Susan Mary Sherwin-White and R. J. van der Spek

Rulers of the empire founded by *Seleucus (1) I , governing a vast realm, sometimes called ‘Asia’, stretching from modern Turkey to Afghanistan. The Seleucids from the start continued (and adapted) *Achaemenid institutions in the army (use of local peoples), in administration (e.g. taxation and satrapal organization; see satrap ), the use of plural ‘royal capitals’ ( *Seleuceia (1) on Tigris , *Antioch (1) , *Sardis ), the use of local languages (and people) in local bureaucracy; also, from the beginning, *Babylon, *Babylonia , and the Babylonian kingship were central, in Seleucid planning, to an empire, the pivotal point of which, joining east and west, was the Fertile Crescent. New was the policy of founding a great number of cities and veteran colonies all over the empire (see *Colonization, Hellenistic ). *Antiochus (3) III conquered southern Syria and Palestine from Egypt (c. 200), but by the peace of Apamea (188), negotiated with Rome, the Seleucids gave up possessions north of the Taurus mountains in Anatolia.