Edward Middleton (Ph.D. candidate, Department of Classics, McMaster University), "Urban Infrastructure and Resilience in Hellenistic Thessaly"
Over the course of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, Greek poleis developed an architectural vocabulary which was used to physically define the concept of the Polis. This vocabulary was deployed across the Greek world during the Hellenistic period, when the Successors of Alexander the Great used it while founding, refounding, and synoecizing numerous urban centers in attempts to consolidate their empires. By analysing the known archaeological and epigraphic evidence from Thessaly, I argue that even in a region considered peripheral and “late” to develop in antiquity, the architectural vocabulary of the polis was being used by Hellenistic monarchs and local elites as it was in other regions of the Hellenistic world.
Yet, not all of these sites became important centers. Some were quickly abandoned, their populations dispersing to the countryside and other cities. While the monarchs attempted to centralize and consolidate people and power, it seems that this was not always possible as the diffusion of people led to abandonment and depopulation of those sites deemed unfavorable. By tracking the development of urban infrastructure across Thessaly, I hope to understand what made for favorable, resilient cities, why some flourished and others were abandoned soon after foundation.