ARCH1150 Fall17 S01 Cities and Urban Space in the Ancient World

ARCH1150 Fall17 S01 Cities and Urban Space in the Ancient World

ARCH 1150: Cities and Urban Space in the Ancient World (WRIT)

Fall 2017

Tues./Thurs. 10:30-11:50; RI Hall 108


Instructor: Margaret M. Andrews

                   Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World

                   214 Rhode Island Hall


                   Office Hours: Tuesdays, 12:00-2:00 pm, or by appointment


Teaching Assistant: Dan Plekhov

                                   Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World         


                                   Office Hours: Wednesdays, 3:00-5:00 pm



Overview and Description

Cities have been a feature in the landscapes of human settlement for nearly 6000 years.  This course will examine the first half of urban history and explore how cities became such a dominant feature of human landscapes in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, ca. 4000 BCE-350 CE. Was there an “Urban Revolution,” and how did it start? What various physical forms did cities assume, and why did cities physically differ (or not) from each other? What functions did cities have in different cultures of the past, and what cultural value did “urban” life have? How do past perspectives on cities compare with contemporary ones? Working thematically and using theoretical and comparative approaches, this course will address various aspects of ancient urban space and its occupation, with each topic backed up by in-depth analysis of concrete case studies.



By the end of the semester, students will have an understanding of how ancient cities emerged and grew, the variety of forms they could assume, and the different ways in which they functioned. Students will gain an appreciation for the multiple meanings that cities had in ancient societies and how these compare or contrast with our perspectives on cities today. The course will develop skills in analytical thinking and spatial analysis and provide practice in oral and graphic presentation. As a WRIT course, students will gain significant practice in writing, especially in the processes of developing an appropriate topic, organizing papers, and building evidence-based arguments.



This course is an upper-level undergraduate seminar that will meet for two sessions a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Tuesday session will consist primarily of a presentation of the week’s topic and the major issues/debates/questions surrounding its relevance to ancient urban centers. This presentation will be mostly led by the instructor, but it will incorporate student discussion and questions based on the readings assigned for that day. In the Thursday session, students who have signed up for the week’s topic will present two cross-cultural or cross-regional case studies of ancient cities that are particularly instructive for the week’s topic (details below). Students who are not presenting during a particular week are expected to engage in discussion and debate with the students who are presenting. Throughout the semester, students will have various writing assignments on which they will receive feedback from the instructor.



In addition to regular attendance, preparation, and active participation in the classroom discussions, each student will have six primary responsibilities as summarized below. More detailed instructions for each assignment will be distributed during the course of the semester.


  • Map Quiz. Given in class early in the semester, the short quiz will be based on a map labeled with the major sites and areas covered by the course that the instructor will provide. During the quiz, students will be asked to label an identical blank map with a selected number of the sites.


  • Personal Essay. The purpose of this short (ca. 750 words) is two-fold. The first is to let the instructor get to know you and understand what your perceptions and experiences with urban space are coming into the class. The second purpose is as a writing diagnostic that will give the instructor a sense of your strengths and weaknesses in writing early in the course.


  • In-Class Case-Study Discussion/Presentation (ca. 30 min.). Each student will present an ancient city (or cities) as a case study that illustrates well the topic for a chosen week. The presentation and subsequent discussion will depend primarily on the assigned readings.


  • Short Essays. There will be two short essays. The first, which should be ca. 750 words, will be a personal reflection and require no research. The second, which should be ca. 1500 words, will be directly related to (essentially a write-up of) the city and topic of your discussion session, which will serve as much of your preparation and research. The second essay will be due 2 weeks after the date of your discussion session.


  • Research Topic Presentation (15-20 min.). Each student will give a short presentation of their chosen research topic to the class at the end of the semester. It may present a fully developed argument or be framed as a “workshop” to garner feedback from classmates on a developing topic.


  • Research Paper (ca. 2500-3000 words). Each student will write a research paper on a topic of their choosing, developed in consultation with the instructor. Students will be assessed not only on the content and composition of the final product, but also on their preparation and progress through various requirements scheduled during the second half of the semester.


This course fulfills the university WRIT requirement. As such, the assignments focus on developing your writing skills in both in the finished product and he preparatory process and incorporate different types of essays of different lengths. Students will be consult with the instructor regularly throughout the semester for guidance and feedback on their preparation for these assignments. Feedback from the shorter papers and requirements leading up to the research paper should be applied toward the final submission of the research paper.



Over 14 weeks, students are expected to spend a total of approximately 180 hours working on this course. They will spend 3 hours per week in class (42 hours). Course reading, and taking notes on that reading, is expected to take 5-6 hours per week (70-84 hours). Presentation/discussion preparation, including research and composing slides, should take approximately 15 hours, while the subsequent written submission should require 5 more. The first essay should take no more than 4 hours. The entire process of developing and writing your final research paper, including the multiple lead-up assignments, should range from approximately 72-86 hours.



  • Regular attendance in class, except where illness or other unavoidable conflicts intervene. Excused absences must be validated by appropriate documentation.
  • Completing assigned readings by the dates indicated in this syllabus and coming to class prepared to talk about them.
  • Submission of all written materials by their due dates.
  • Cooperation in contributing to a group in-class presentation
  • Willingness to consult me or the class TA in office hours about the course, problems you may be experiencing with lectures, readings, or other assignments.
  • In taking this class, as all others at Brown, it is presumed that you have read, are familiar with, and will abide by Brown’s Academic Code, particularly as they relate to fair use of sources and avoidance of plagiarism. You should review these policies here:



Attendance and Participation in Discussion: 10%

Map Quiz: 5%

Discussion Session: 15%

Research Paper Preparation: 10%

Research Topic Presentation: 15%

Short Papers: 25% (10% and 15%)

Final Paper: 20%





*N.B.: Brackets indicate actual number of text pages, excluding images, in reading*


Week 1 — Introduction I

Thurs, 9/7: Introduction to the course


Week 2 — What is a City and How Do We Know?

Tues, 9/12: Defining a City

  • Marcus and J. Sabloff, “Introduction,” in The Ancient City: New Perspectives on Urbanism in the Old and New World (2008), 3-26 [18 pp.]
  • Wirth, “Urbanism as a way of life,” American Journal of Sociology 44 (1938): 1-24 [24 pp.]
  • Smith, “How Can Archaeologists Identify Early Cities? Definitions, Types, and Attributes, in Eurasia at the Dawn of History: Urbanization and Social Change (2016), 153-168 [9 pp.]

Thurs, 9/14: Methods and Models of Urban Analysis

  • Smith, “Empirical Urban Theory for Archaeologists,” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 18 (2011): 167-192 [18 pp.]
  • Groh, “Strategies and Results of the Urban Survey in the Upper City of Ephesus,” in Urban Landscape Survey in Italy and the Mediterranean (2012), 62-71 [4 pp.]


Week 3 — Birth and Growth                    

Tues, 9/19: Urbanization

  • Ur, “Households and the Emergence of Cities in Mesopotamia,” Cambridge Archaeological Journal 24 (2014): 249-68 [12 pp.]
  • Yoffe, Myths of the Archaic State: Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States, and Civilizations (2003), 42-62 [20 pp.]

Thurs, 9/21: DISCUSSION – Ur/Uruk and Tell Brak

  • Emberling, “Mesopotamian Cities and Urban Process, 3500-1600 BCE,” in Early Cities in Comparative Perspective 4000-1200 BCE (2015), 253-278 [19 pp.]


Week 4 — Urban Images

Tues, 9/26: Appearance and Form

  • Smith, “Form and Meaning in the Earliest Cities: A New Approach to Ancient Urban Planning.” Journal of Planning History 6 (2007): 3-47. [25 pp.]
  • Shipley, “Little Boxes on the Hillside: Greek Town Planning, Hippodamos, and Polis Ideology,” in The Imaginary Polis (2005), 335-386 [44 pp.]




Thurs, 9/28: DISCUSSION – Priene, Leptis Magna, Pergamon

  • MacDonald, The Architecture of the Roman Empire: An Urban Appraisal (1986), 5-31 [12 pp.]
  • Radt, “Landscape and Greek urban planning: exemplified by Pergamon and Priene,” in Cities and Nature: Changing Relations in Time and Place (1993), 201-209
  • Ward-Perkins, “Town-Planning in North Africa…” in Römische Mitteilungen (1982), 29-44 [12 pp.]




Week 5 — Centers of Power

Tues, 10/3: Consolidating Political Power and Space

  • Smith, The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities (2003), 184-231 [39 pp.]
  • Morris, “The Early Polis as City and State,” in City and Country in the Ancient World (1991), 25-58

Thurs, 10/5: DISCUSSION – Mycenae and Republican/Augustan Rome

  • French, “Mycenae,” in The Oxford Handbook to the Aegean Bronze Age (2012), 671-79
  • Favro, The Urban Image of Augustan Rome (1996), 217-51 [23 pp.]




Week 6 — Economic Centers

Tues, 10/10: Cities as Places of Economic Control, Supply, and Demand

  • Erdkamp, “Beyond the Limits of the ‘Consumer City’: A Model of the Urban and Rural Economy in the Roman World,” Historia 3 (2001): 332-56 [22 pp.]
  • Zuiderhoek, The Ancient City (2017), 37-55
  • Nakassis et al., “Redistributive Economies from a Theoretical and Cross-Cultural Perspective,” American Journal of Archaeology 115 (2011): 177-84 [7 pp.]

Thurs, 10/12: DISCUSSION – Ostia and Delos

  • DeLaine, “The commercial landscape of Ostia,” in Roman Working Lives and Urban Living (2005), 29-47
  • Rauh, The Sacred Bonds of Commerce: Religion, Economy, and Trade Society at Hellenistic Delos, 166-88 BC (1994), TBD


Week 7 — Cities in their Broader Settings

Tues, 10/17: Urban-Rural Interaction

  • Erdkamp, “Seasonal Labor and Rural-Urban Migration in Roman Italy,” in Migration in the Early Roman Empire (2015), 33-49 [15 pp.]
  • Osborne, “The Potential Mobility of Human Populations,” Oxford Journal of Archaeology 10 (1991): 231-252.
  • Smith, “Peasant Mobility, Local Migration, and Premodern Urbanization,” World Archaeology 46 (2014): 516-533.

Thurs, 10/19: DISCUSSION – Rhodes and Sardis

  • Pettegrew, “Chasing the Classical Farmstead: Assessing the Formation and Signature of Rural Settlement in Greek Landscape Archaeology,” Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 14 (2001): 189-209.




Week 8 — Sacred Centers

Tues, 10/24: Religion and Civic Identity

  • Carballo, “Urbanization and Religion in Ancient Societies,” in Urbanization and Religion in Ancient Central Mexico (2015), 1-19
  • Kindt, “Polis-Religion: A Critical Appreciation,” Kernos 22 (2009): 9-34 [21 pp.]

Thurs, 10/26: DISCUSSION – Amarna, Ephesus, Dura Europos

  • Kemp, The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and its People, 23-45 [17 pp.]
  • Rodgers, The Sacred Identity of Ephesos: Foundation Myths of a Roman City, 80-126 [35 pp.]


Week 9 — City as Stage: Movement and Spectacle

Tues, 10/31: Performance in the Streets

  • Ristvet, Ritual, Performance, and Politics in the Ancient Near East (2015), 40-74
  • Hartnett, The Roman Street: Urban Life and Society in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Rome (2017), 76-111. [31 pp.]

Thurs, 11/2: DISCUSSION – Athens and Imperial Rome

  • Neils, The Parthenon Frieze (2006), 11-31 [9.5 pp]
  • Popkin, The Architecture of the Roman Triumph: Monuments, Memory, and Identity (2016), 92-134




Week 10 — Cities as Lived Spaces

Tues, 11/7: Houses, Streets, and Neighborhoods

  • Smith, “The archaeological study of neighborhoods and urban districts in ancient cities,” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 29 (2010): 137-154 [10 pp.]
  • Keith, “The spatial patterns of everyday life in Old Babylonian neighborhoods,” in The Social Construction of Ancient Cities (2003), 56-80 [21 pp.]
  • Cavanagh, “Empty Space? Courts and Squares in Mycenaean Towns,” in Urbanism in the Aegean Bronze Age (2001), 119-34.

Thurs, 11/9: DISCUSSION — Pompeii and Olynthus

  • Laurence, Roman Pompeii: Space and Society (1994), 38-50 [7 pp.]
  • Cahill, Household and City Organization at Olynthus (2002), 194-222 [24 pp.]


Week 11 — Colonies, Colonialism, and Imperialism

Tues, 11/14: Colonists and Migrants

  • van Dommelen, “Urban Foundations? Colonial Settlement and Urbanization in the Western Mediterranean,” in Mediterranean Urbanization, 800-600 BCE (2005), 143-67 [11 pp.]
  • Revell, Roman Imperialism and Local Identities (2008), 40-79

Thurs, 11/16: DISCUSSION – Paestum and Tarraco

  • Crawford, “From Poseidonia to Paestum via the Lucanians,” in Greek and Roman Colonization: Origins, Ideologies, and Interactions (2006), 59-72
  • Keay, “Urban Transformation and Cultural Change,” in The Archaeology of Iberia (1997), 192-210


Week 12 — Loci of Memory

Tues, 11/21: How Cities Preserve (and Forget) their Pasts

  • Alcock, Archaeologies of the Greek Past (2002), 1-35, 51-73, 86-98
  • Rose, “The Homeric Memory Culture of Roman Ilion,” in Cultural Memories in the Roman Empire (2015), 134-52 [10 pp.]






Week 13 — Student Presentations

            Tues, 11/28: Student Presentations

            Thurs, 11/30: Student Presentations


Week 14 — Student Presentations

            Tues, 12/5: Student Presentations

            Thurs, 12/7: Student Presentations





**FINAL PAPER DUE: Tuesday, Dec. 12 by 11:59 pm (via Canvas)**

Course Summary:

Date Details Due