Frame 3a. The Urban Mind in the Hellenistic era

Participants: Prof. Frands Herschend, Doc. Witold Witakowski, Doc. Mats Eskhult, Doc. Kerstin Höghammar, Dr Susanne Carlsson.

Study Field: The Canaanite/Phoenician city state was created in tandem with the early Greek polis. In the wake of Alexander, late 3rd c. BCE, the Mediterranean and the Middle East experienced a second period of dynamic city state urbanism. In the present study we concentrate on Decapolis (ten Greek towns between Damascus and Amman), the old Greek city states on the eastern coast of Asia Minor and Edessa (today’s Urfa in south-eastern Turkey). In Asia Minor, the cities were old and Greek, situated in expanding international networks. In The new Decapolis, were culturally and linguistically heterogeneous. A ruling class of Greek-speaking origin governed the indigenous Aramaic-speaking population within the city and in the surrounding hamlets. Government and administration were based on Greek philosophy, canon-based education, literacy and traditional practice. In Edessa, however, the administrative language was Aramaic, and Greek literature was translated. A large archaeological material and considerable literary, archival, chronical, epigraphic and numismatic material supports the analysis of the urban mind work in these three urban settings.

Activities: A preliminary analysis of the virtues and shortcomings of a mature city state with its secular view on government, administration and politics. Survey based on published archaeological surveys and site plans and literary material.

Deliverables: Contribution to Aim 1 concerning Greek philosophy and literacy and its relation to small and middle size cities and urban elites. Re­interpretations of classical literature contributions to study field 3b Mentality in Syriac chronicles and martyr acts.

Future perspective: The development of: a functional understanding of multi ethnic cities; an analysis of the limits of rational urban management; an analysis of the stagnation of urban intellectual life.