Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Towards an agora: The spatial and architectural development of Greek commercial and civic space in the Peloponnese
by Donati, Jamieson C., Ph.D., New York University, 2010, 478; 3396724
Abstract (Summary)

Despite the presence of sufficient archaeological and literary evidence, the Peloponnese is a region of the Ancient Mediterranean that is underrepresented in studies on the Greek agora. Many scholars prefer to draw on the more familiar paradigms, such as the Athenian agora or the impressive Hellenistic agoras of Asia Minor, rather than incorporate other models to gain a more comprehensive perspective. This study changes this circumstance by exploring the structure and mechanics of the Greek agora at Argos, Corinth, Elis, and Megalopolis during the Archaic and Classical periods. Agoras in these Peloponnesian settlements show great diversity in their architectural and spatial development, which is a reflection of their (unique) urban and social realities. Taken together the Peloponnesian experience allows us to adopt a more fluid and idiosyncratic interpretation of the Greek agora, rather than base our assumptions on preconditions or universal models.

Through a detailed examination of the archaeological and literary evidence, the physical features and social framework of the agoras at Argos, Corinth, Elis, and Megalopolis come into greater focus and help write a different history of the Greek agora. Despite the disproportionate emphasis placed on the political underpinnings of the agora, this study shows that political activity and civic buildings played a less conspicuous role in the agora's early development. There is also no measurable impact of democracy on the agora's physical composition at those Peloponnesian cities that adopted democratic constitutions (Argos, Elis, and Megalopolis). Instead, the agoras at these centers were shaped by disparate factors, such as trade and commerce, urban cults and religious festivals, and the means of transportation and communication. It is this mixing of activities that characterizes the Greek agora, and marks its inherently diverse role in the urban fabric of city.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marconi, Clemente
Commitee: Ratte, Christopher, Welch, Katherine
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Art history, Ancient history, Architecture
Keywords: Agora, Ancient city, Ancient history, Architectural development, Civic space, Greece, Greek architecture, Greek urbansim, Peloponnese
Publication Number: 3396724
ISBN: 978-1-109-65325-0
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