What Gave Rise To Urbanisation In The Mediterranean

2316 words - 9 pages

“What gave rise to urbanisation in the Mediterranean region?”

What is urbanisation? To ‘urbanise’ is to ‘make (a rural area) more industrialized and urban’ , urban meaning ‘of or living in a city or town’ . Marja C.V. Vink argues that “The word urbanization was used for the first time in Spain a little more than one hundred years ago” to show the “quantitative and qualitative growth if cities” . The degree of urbanisation is quite different when comparing towns or cities of antiquity to the modern understanding of an urban centre; however, essentially it is the same process.

When talking about the rise of urbanisation in the Mediterranean region 3 main civilisations spring to mind, firstly the Greeks who were inspired by advanced civilisations of the Near East. Secondly, the Etruscans who ruled central Italy from the eighth century to the third century B.C. when the last Etruscan cities fell to Rome. Etruria was bordered to the south by the River Tiber and to the north by the River Arno. City states developed in Etruria in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C., and “by the last decades of the eighth century B.C. the centres which had undergone the process of urbanization and social diversification had acquired some of the status of cities.” Etruria flourished until the Gauls invaded in the fourth century B.C. From
616-509 Etruscan kings ruled over Rome. Finally, the Romans dating back to 753 B.C. with the founding of Rome by Romulus.

Urbanisation is synonymous with cities. It seems impossible to consider a civilisation ‘urbanised’ if it does not have urban centres. So what is an urban centre? And why were these urban centres needed? Looking at what the cities consisted of can help one answer these questions. In Greece the most obvious choice for studying the process of urbanisation is Athens. I have chosen Marzabotto as the example of an urban centre for Etruria and finally, for the Roman Empire I have chosen Rome. These three cities all adapted to the needs of their population and the one thing common to all three is a cult centre. The first urban centres were certainly not Roman, however once urbanised Rome surpassed any of the Greek or former Etruscan cites in terms of monumentalisation.

The Neolithic & Dark Age sees the beginning of domestication of plants and livestock, as well as the emergence of weaponry. With cultivation now possible people were able to settle in one place and not move once the food sources were exhausted. Subsequently, first in the Near East and later in the Mediterranean region there was the development of ‘poleis’ (city states) and urbanisation.

During the Dark Age worship was done in the open air however after the eighth century B.C. temples and sanctuaries were built and the “character of the architecture. Was to some extent dictated by the needs of the cult”

Religion was the main factor with respect to deciding on an urban centre.
“the city was a political, religious and to a lesser extent social...

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