Origin of Polis

Reassessing the origin of polis Adalya


The polis was one of the most important community forms in antiquity. Its origins are situated in the Aegean during the eighth century BCE. At the same time, the concept has been applied on a far larger spatial and temporal context. This article will focus on what the emergence of polis communities beyond the Aegean heartland entailed. The aim is to move beyond a one-sided Hellenocentric approach. I will discuss the emergence and development of urban and political communities in southwestern Anatolia - focusing on Lycia, Pamphylia and Pisidia - through archaeological evidence from settlement patterns and material culture. I will study polis formation through the lens of push-pull interactions as drivers of community organization by means of a comparison between two models of change; peer polity interaction and the royal policy model. This article shows that the development of political and urban communities, subsumed under the moniker of polis formation, should be dissociated from Hellenization and the spread of Greek culture. Complex and multidimensional processes of community formation cannot be unilaterally reduced to Greek influences. The observed changes can be explained by the superposition of actors on multiple levels pursuing their aims and strategies within a locally and regionally embedded context.

Dries Daems
Dries Daems
Digital Archaeologist

I am an archaeologist with a Ph.D. from University of Leuven. My research interests include social complexity, urbanism, artisanal production, and human-environment interactions through computational modeling and pottery studies.