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Visualizing ancient urban networks

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Late Hellenistic Delos: Urbanism in antiquity

An examination of the multilayered processes of urban growth over time highlights the forces that shape urban form. This brings to light the ways in which uncontrolled factors such as micro- and macro-scale social and economic developments fit in our understanding of urbanism in classical antiquity.

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The Greek island of Delos, home of the sanctuary of Apollo since the archaic period, became a place of rapid economic development after 167 BCE. It served as a commercial base for the eastern and western Mediterranean. As a result, urbanism was accelerated. New neighbourhoods were formed and existing urban and harbour areas were redeveloped. Despite the importance of the Delian emporion, there is a lack of understanding regarding the ways in which the commercial centre operated. URBANETWORKS (Visualizing ancient urban networks) was an EU-funded project with a focus on residential and commercial neighbourhoods of late Hellenistic Delos. It examined the ties between economic change and urban growth. Delos' urban formation was a result of consecutive decisions and actions formulated by the public and private sectors. A 3D digital model that will present the existing state of the neighbourhoods and structures is in preparation. An underwater fieldwork survey was conducted to investigate one of the submerged areas of the island, the Stadion District, in order to examine the ways in which this neighbourhood served the Delian emporion. This was the first underwater investigation of the island. Articles and books have been published and are in print. Furthermore, scholars from the disciplines of classical archaeology and architectural history were brought together in a lecture series in Athens, Greece, to tackle methodological approaches in the study of urbanism. This discussion is important to the fields of archaeology as well as architecture, and is useful in looking at how the two disciplines converge in the study of the urban environment.


Delos, Hellenistic emporion, urban growth, economic development, commercial activities, harbour infrastructure

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