Hippodamos and Phoenicia: On City Planning and Social Order in a Transcultural Context

  • Nicolas ZenzenEmail author
Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)


The relationship between the Greek and the Phoenician culture is a subject of long and heated debate in the field of ancient studies. The central question is whether the well-known cultural achievements of the Greeks were more or less indigenous inventions or whether there were influential eastern predecessors, especially among the Phoenicians. From a transcultural perspective, however, it is absolutely essential to study the formation of the Mediterranean cultures together in order to understand the complex strands of development in its entirety. The author demonstrates this by using the example of urban development from the sixth to fourth centuries BC. During this period Greek and Phoenician settlements reveal a remarkable change from irregularly grown layouts of a rural character to elaborately designed plans that created an outstanding urban space. Because of the fragmentary findings and the close interactions between these two cultures, it is absolutely futile to differentiate which features of this development originated in which cultural sphere. From the Greek literary tradition we know that the layout of cities was discussed in the context of the intellectual discourse on political constitutions. A key figure in this regard was Hippodamos of Miletus, a political philosopher from the fifth century BC. Taking this into consideration, the author suggests that both the urban and the sociopolitical development in this period must be seen not as a genuine Greek phenomenon but as a process shared by the entangled Mediterranean cultures.


Private House Town Planning Master Narrative Orthogonal Grid Single House 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am grateful for comments and corrections from Antje Flüchter, Margareta Pavaloi, Stefan Dietrich, and Ricarda Wagner. Thanks also to Nicholas Cahill, Josette Elayi, Mounir Fantar, Wolfram Hoepfner, Georg Steinhauer, and Agata Villa for granting permission to reproduce the plans.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute for Classical Archaeology of Heidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany

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