Icons of civic form
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Icons of civic form Competition between elites within a city was not the only factor in the drive to monumentalization; competition between cities was important as well There were often upgrades as cities tried to keep up with their neighbours: wider streets; larger temples and public buildings

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  • The urban area was defined by walls factor in the drive to monumentalization; competition between cities was important as well

  • Outside the walls lay the cemeteries

  • Other large buildings, such as hippodromes, were also located outside


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The urban plan factor in the drive to monumentalization; competition between cities was important as well

  • Most cities pre-dated the Roman annexation, and therefore their plans were older ones: often Seleucid or Ptolemaic

  • The grid or chess-board plan = “Hippodamian”

  • But grids are universal


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  • The grid plan allows colonists to be given equal plots of land

  • It permits easy surveillance

  • The orientation of the streets may have an ideological or religious meaning: cardo (n/s axis), decumanus (e/w axis), reflecting the movement of heavenly bodies

  • The grid may reflect social ideals, engendering a sense of improvement; it may have religious meanings, strategic meanings, practical meanings, hygienic meanings


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Seleucid cities land

  • A citadel

  • Two axial main streets, plus many others at the same orientations, dividing the city up into blocks


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Apamea land


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Ptolemaic and other cities land

  • A single long main street with smaller streets at right angles

  • A single street that does not cross the city from one side to the other, but ends in a large sanctuary: Bostra, Petra = Nabataean design?

  • Local topography also constrained what could be achieved


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Bostra land


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Petra land


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Walls land

  • Walls were a sign of civic autonomy: the city could defend itself

  • They were the largest and most expensive monument of a city – they may have been beyond the financial capabilities of smaller cities


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Streets land


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  • The basic unit of urbanism land

  • Nowadays mainly for access (usually by car), but the builders of the main streets in these cities had more than access and circulation in mind

  • Everyone has to use them so they are perfect places for political displays, providing a stage on which the ritual activities of the community are acted out


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  • The colonnaded street land

  • May be perfectly straight, or an articulation of several straight sections, with changes in direction being marked by monumental structures


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Arches monuments


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Tetrapylon monuments

  • “four gates”

  • One type is the quadrifons = four fronts (in Latin)



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Open spaces monuments

  • Agora


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Basilica monuments




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Theater monuments



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Hippodrome monuments


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Stadium monuments


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Bath buildings monuments

  • Bath buildings are among the commonest and most typical Roman buildings

  • They are found all over the region, in villages as well as cities


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  • The buildings of the monumental city were a reminder of who controlled it, and who had the right to compete for attention in its society

  • Monuments gave their builders a place in the collective memory of the community they helped to construct

  • It was an environment celebrating the aspirations and social power of a small but powerful element of the population


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