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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The fortifications of Arkadian poleis in the classical and Hellenistic periods Maher, Matthew Peter


This study comprises a comprehensive and detailed account of the historical development of Greek military architecture and defensive planning specifically in Arkadia in the Classical and Hellenistic periods. It aims to resolve several problems, not least of all, to fill the large gap in our knowledge of both Arkadian fortifications and the archaeology record on the individual site level. After establishing that the Arkadian settlements in question were indeed poleis, and reviewing all previous scholarship on the sites, the fortification circuit of each polis is explored through the local history, the geographical/topographical setting, the architectural components of the fortifications themselves, and finally, the overall defensive planning inherent in their construction. Based an understanding of all of these factors, including historical probability, a chronology of construction for each site is provided. The synthesis made possible by the data gathered from the published literature and collected during the field reconnaissance of every site, has confirmed a number of interesting and noteworthy regionally specific patterns. Related to chronology, it is significant that there is no evidence for fortified poleis in Arkadia during the Archaic period, and when the poleis were eventually fortified in the Classical period, the fact that most appeared in the early fourth century BCE, strategically distributed in limited geographic areas, suggests that the larger defensive concerns of the Arkadian League were a factor. Regarding the construction and architecture of the city walls, not only where the fortifications of every polis comprised of a mudbrick superstructure, but in all periods, polygonal masonry and trapezoidal masonry were equally viable options for the stone foundations. In this regard, it is established that when used alone, the type of masonry is not a reliable stylistic indicator for establishing the relative date of a circuit. Moreover, it is interesting to note that the location of every single site chosen was provided with protection in the form of some sort of watercourse. Finally, concerning innovations in siege warfare and offensive artillery, the defensive responses of the Arkadian fortifications follow the same general developments observable in the circuits found throughout the Greek world.

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