Settlement scaling and the emergence of the Greek polis

Author(s): Grace Erny

Year: 2017


The collapse of the Mycenaean palatial centers at the end of the Late Bronze Age (circa 1190 BCE) and the nature of society in the ensuing "Dark Age" or Early Iron Age have long been important topics in the study of prehistoric Greece. The centuries after the collapse were characterized by a seeming decrease in population, changing patterns of settlement, less political centralization, a decline in trans-Mediterranean trade and the production of luxury goods, and the disappearance of the Linear B script used for keeping Mycenaean palatial records. Complex society did not re-emerge on the Greek mainland until the rise of the Archaic Greek polis in the middle of the 8th century BCE. While both Mycenaean palaces and Archaic poleis can be classified as city-states, it is their political, cultural, and economic differences that are most often stressed. This paper will use settlement scaling theory to investigate continuity and change over the course of the Early Iron Age. Scaling relationships will be derived for Mycenaean settlements, Early Iron Age settlements, and several early poleis. Comparing the values of the pre-factors in these relationships will allow for a more nuanced understanding of the conditions necessary for the development of the polis.

Cite this Record

Settlement scaling and the emergence of the Greek polis. Grace Erny. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429165)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14895