The Parthenon

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The Topography & Monuments of Athens: A Brief Introduction

What is "topography"?

When archaeologists use the term "topography" in their work, they usually mean a combination of several different subjects, including

  • the geography & natural resources of a country
  • the architectural form of a city as it develops over several centuries or even millenia
  • the study of different functional areas within a city or its countryside, such as sanctuaries, civic centers, marketplaces, workshops, private houses, & cemeteries.
A student of "topography" must be prepared to delve into subjects such as architecture, art, literature, history, epigraphy, numismatics, religion, politics, physical anthropology, and geology, as well as having an understanding of the methodologies of archaeological excavation and regional survey. Hence, "topography" can be a truly interdisplinary adventure, full of all the things that make archaeology and history such fascinating fields to study.

Why study the topography and monuments of Athens?

Just as there are many different ways of looking at artifacts, there are many different ways to study archaeological sites. For example, archaeologists may focus upon

  • regional analysis and how a site fits into larger social, political, and economic systems
  • individual settlements, shrines, or cemeteries and the human communities who used them
  • specific types of buildings, such as houses or temples, and their function within the community
  • specific features (e.g., wells, hearths, graves) and artifacts (e.g., tools, jewelry, pottery, art)
  • issues of typology, technology, chronology, ideology, social stratification, trade, artistic achievement
  • and much more.
In studying the topography and monuments of Athens, we are looking at the development of an ancient city-state that played a very important...
Source: www.stoa.org
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