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Appendix (1970)

Published onApr 22, 2021
Appendix (1970)

The original text of 1956 (Rome, De Luca publishers) is unchanged in this book, except that translations of Latin and Greek passages have been added. The same illustrations are used throughout. Yet it is important to add to this text information on discoveries and discussions that have taken place since the original publication. We will refer exclusively to those studies that most impinge upon Hippodamean urbanism, and it is in this context that we have chosen to review the vast and often overlapping bibliography.1

Our knowledge of ancient city planning has greatly increased, largely because of recent excavations and aerial surveys. The acceptance and widespread use of the rectangular plan, particularly in the cities of Magna Graecia and Sicily, is more apparent than ever. Because of the excavations of Metaponto and the studies carried out at Selinus, we must extend our chronology to include the second half of the sixth century B.C.2 These older limiting dates again bring up the question whether it is legitimate to use the term Hippodamean to qualify these examples of urbanism. Certainly we must exclude from our discussion those hypotheses which attribute to Hippodamus the radial plan or the monumental (scenographic) city plan.3 The first problem is a historiographic one—to decide what Aristotle meant by διαίρεσις τῶν πόλεων. Evidently he was alluding to the widespread rectangular city plan which we know to be associated with his century and those immediately preceding it—a plan which, with some important variations, had close structural relations throughout the Greek world.

The next question is to establish the correct reference of the Aristotelian statement. Examples of Hippodamean cities like Metaponto, that certainly preceded Hippodamus, lead us to conclude with even more assurance that Hippodamus was not the creator of this type of city planning; his name is linked with it only through his studies of the political organization and the social system, and especially through his planning of Piraeus.

Hippodamean city planning is a unique chapter in the history of urban planning not only for the concept of a master plan to control all future growth and development,4 but also for its rational organic qualities. To recapitulate, these are summarized as follows: The street grid is regularly subdivided into wide parallel strips by a very few (usually only three or four) major longitudinal arteries. At right angles to these run other streets, a few of which are major communication roads but most of which are narrow alleyways whose only purpose is to create blocks for buildings. The blocks thus formed are usually long and narrow. Buildings and plazas fall within the grid. There is no central intersection of major axes (as distinguished from the Roman axial grid). Throughout, the grid is derived from certain fixed dimensions (the short side of the block in particular was often set at 120 feet). Aside from a strictly rational and geometric form, the grid exemplified certain criteria of absolute equality among the residential blocks. If this spirit of equality was previously thought to be in keeping with the constitutional democracies of the fifth century B.C., we must now observe that by placing the more ancient plans in the sixth century we find an entirely different social system—that is, strong tyrannical governments capable of exercising total and complete planning authority. We must also keep in mind, of course, the often noted connection with colonialism.

It must be added that these conclusions may be modified by subsequent discoveries. For example, many elements basic to Hippodamean planning are to be found at the acropolis of Zernaki Tepe in Urartu, although organized on an axial scheme. If this plan can be decisively dated in the eighth century B.C., we are forced to conclude that the Hippodamean plan of the sixth century was not a spontaneous creation but rather a gradual evolution of an archaic Anatolian tradition, possibly by way of the Ionian world.

Another important point of discussion, the relation of the Hippodamean plan to the Italic and Etruscan cultures, has not been modified by new material and discoveries. Two fundamental points still hold: the theory of the celestial templum has no relation whatsoever to city planning; and Marzabotto is a Greek plan. Because of the limited evidence, we must still consider these to be provisional conclusions; nevertheless the Etruscans cannot be thought of as having played a completely autonomous role in the use and development of Hippodamean urbanism, nor is there evidence of the sacred nature of the Hippodamean city plan. There is even less reason to suppose a relation between the uniform grid plan of the Etruscan cities and either certain prehistoric antecedents or Roma quadrata.

It should not be necessary to repeat that the monotonous regularity of these plans does not mean that Hippodamean cities were esthetically unpleasing. The third dimension, the elevation is often missing; yet without doubt the differing volumes of the buildings and architectonic variation offered by the porticoes, public buildings and imposing temples would ensure a freedom of architectural solutions despite the restrictions of the plan. Often, as at Paestum and Agrigento, the temples were oriented independently of the grid, for religious reasons. Certainly the uniformity and repetitiveness of the basic grid did not prevent the planners from exploiting the natural terrain, as at Rhodes, Priene, and Soluntum.

There follows from this general discussion a series of notes and observations on problems considered in the body of the book.

p. 10. Cities of the sixth and fifth centuries, B.C.

The plan of the acropolis of Selinus must be classified separately from those of the rectangular axial intersection type. Excavations in the last few years have shown that the plan is not derived from an axial intersection to which the grid of the blocks was added during the fourth century, but rather from a plan developed at one time. It is best interpreted as comprising two east–west πλατεῖαι and one running north-south. The short sides of the blocks were established on the former, and the blocks were divided north-south by narrow στενωποί. Only in the northern sector were the στενωποί laid out east-west because of the narrowing of the hill and the obvious space restrictions resulting. Selinus therefore is of the Hippodamean per strigas type, laid out in accordance with the topographic limitations.5 The plan should be placed toward the second half of the sixth century.6

p. 12. Miletus

The archaic streets would appear to coincide with the grid system developed during the fifth century B.C..7

p. 14. Rhodes

The rectangular layout of Rhodes was also observed by J. Bradford, working from an aerial survey,8 at the same time as J. Kondis observed it, but independently. The latter, in a new study of the plan,9 maintains that the city was built up by small blocks 100 by 150 feet, ascertained principally by the remaining streets and discovery of ancient elements, mainly sewers. But it seems possible that certain of the sewers belong to the internal ambitus of the blocks. I have therefore put forward the hypothesis that Rhodes should be reconsidered on the basis of larger blocks, with the long axis running north-south.10 From excavations in recent years we can deduce that this was indeed the direction of the long axis of the blocks; as for the dimensions, the short side of the blocks has now been confirmed at about 49 meters.11

p. 18. Thurii

In the documentation of this plan by Diodorus (XII, 10, 7) Kondis12 interprets the much disputed passage (τῶν ὑπὸ δὲ τούτων στενωπῶν πεπληρωμένων τὰς οἰκίας ἡ πόλις ἐφαίνετο καλῶς πεπλεpωμένων) in a new way. He nonetheless arrives at the usual interpretation concerning the counterposition between πλατεῖαι and στενωποί and in attributing to Thurii a plan analogous to that of Rhodes.

p. 19. Agrigento

The Olympieion (480–460 B.C.) has been to date the ante quern reference for the entire plan of Agrigentum, yet recent stratigraphic excavations in the Hellenistic quarters have revealed structures datable to the second half of the sixth century.13

pp. 24, 35

We must take note of discussions concerning the plans of Naples and of Pompeii and of their chronology.14

p. 39. Paestum

The plan layout of the city15 must be placed at an earlier date. A more ancient terminus ante quern than those so far considered is found in the subterranean temple16 datable shortly after 510 B.C. Recent exploratory excavations within the residential sectors indicate a similar period.

Paestum is to be considered a clear example of Hippodamean urbanism as characterized by the elongated proportions of the blocks and notable absence of an axial intersection. Yet there has been no lack of opposing evaluations: thus von Gerkan17 transposes the dates into the Lucanian era, and Schläger reaches similar conclusions.18 Paestum, based on a strong axial scheme, is thus typically Italic according to von Gerkan.

p. 51. Marzabotto

The methodical excavations that have been undertaken enrich our understanding of this plan, important to the study of ancient urbanism.19 The most notable of the recent finds are the discovery that the sacred buildings (acropolis) are perfectly aligned with the urban grid pattern, and the finding of a stone plate under the road surface at the intersection of two πλατεῖαι on which were incised two orthogonal lines. Although other such plates, without incisions, have been found at other intersections, it is improbable that they were part of a sacred ritual belonging to the celestial templum of the Etrusca disciplina. In all probability they were part of the normal technical operations performed during the layout of the streets. I therefore maintain that Marzabotto is to be placed among the examples of Greek urban design.

Additional examples of Hippodamean cities of the sixth and fifth centuries can now be cited.

The vast city of Metaponto20 is built with a rectangular layout based on a few πλατεῖαι intersected perpendicularly by two πλατεῖαι and numerous στενωποί, The blocks measure one actus by one stadius (as at Naples). The temple of Apollo Lykeios serves as an ante quern reference, insofar as its congruity with the grid pattern presupposes at least the prior existence of the street grid. The present temple is datable toward the beginning of the fifth century, but recently a more ancient lower temple has been discovered.

The subdivision per strigas with elongated blocks (whose short sides are 34.25, 34.40, and 34.90 meters, and long sides about 78 meters, although the intersections are not perfectly orthogonal) is found at Cyrene21 by the third quarter of the sixth century B.C.

Excavations at Imera22 have uncovered rectangular blocks whose short sides measure 32 meters and are datable around the beginning of the fifth century.

The urban pattern of Selinus23 (the date of which is not yet ascertainable) presents a uniform grid of about 30 x 90 meters.

The lower sector of Heraclea of Lucania,24 founded in 433–432 B.C., follows a uniform pattern (mirrored this time also in the perimeter walls), with blocks of 55 by 175 meters, possibly subdivided again.

Excavations at Camarina25 have singled out a rectangular block whose short side measures one actus. Its first appearance is traced to the first half of the fifth century.

Also lower Locri26 presents a uniform grid pattern whose short sides measure one actus. We are still unable to give a date to the first establishment of the plan.27

p. 56. The Greek City

The characteristics of the Hippodamean city plan are not to be confused with the basic tendency toward regularity and uniformity in city planning. Some examples of this tendency were given on page 56, to which we must add that of the city of Smyrna of the seventh century.28 Nor should the schematic subdivision of the residential sector by axes in a single direction as at Monte Casale (Casmene, end of the seventh century29) be considered Hippodamean. In this case we are dealing with a geometric subdivision of the terrain in an almost rigid, militaristic fashion and certainly not comparable to the Hippodamean grid. A comparison of greater value might be with the plan of the residential sector of Enkomi30 dating from the thirteenth century B.C., characterized by a central axis onto which open numerous streets almost at right angles to it. These streets subdivide the city into uniform rectangular blocks whose short sides measure about 100 feet. This plan, like others of the Mycenaean, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian world,31 is an instructive example of the urbanistic expressions from which there developed the Hippodamean plan.

The recently discovered plan of the acropolis of Zernaki Tepe32 (in the region of the Van lake in Urartu) must be added to the precedents of the Hippodamean plan. The city is reconstructed according to a grid of squares with sides of one actus, bisected by an ambitus; two larger streets intersecting at the center determine an axial scheme. According to available evidence, the city dates to the eighth century.

p. 66. Hippodamus of Miletus

The attempt by Wycherley to attribute to Hippodamus the plan layout of Rhodes has been rather unconvincing. The reference to the epithet μετεωρολόγος (see pp. 66, 72) will not be valid in its intended sense, for the term not only means astronomer but carries with it the far greater meaning of physicist and thinker.33

p. 74. The Etruscan and Italic City

The conception of the Italic and Etruscan city as being of sacral origin still enjoys undeserved respect;34 Marzabotto, Roma quadrata,35 and centuriation,36 are considered examples.

p. 84. Greek Cities of the Fourth Century B.C. and of the Hellenistic Era

The popularity and widespread use enjoyed by the Hippodamean city plan after the fifth century is documented by many new studies. Many such cities embodied important new urbanistic principles, although we shall cite only the works concerning Cnidos,37 Soluntum38 (excavations have brought to light data that confirm its fourth-century origins), Tindari,39 Lipari,40 Alexandria,41 and the Seleucid cities in Syria.42 We must also consider cities such as Ephesus43 (blocks of 140 by 140 or 140 by 280 feet) and Segesta44 (of rectangular layout notwithstanding the topography) as belonging to this class, even though they have not been so considered heretofore. We further have in this category Morgantina,45 a city of the fourth century B.C. whose blocks measure 37.50 by 62 meters; Heraclea Minoa,46 fourth century, whose plan reveals several orthogonal elements; Caulonia,47 fourth century, with parallel streets spaced at 55 meters; Lilybaeum,48 perhaps of the third century B.C., with blocks of 1 by 3 and 1 by 4 actus; Utica;49 Ptolemais,50 from the second half of the third century B.C., with four πλατεῖαι transversed at right angles by two πλατεῖαι and numerous στενωποί to form blocks generally measuring 36 by 180 meters; and finally Seleucia on the Tigris,51 characterized by an agglomeration around a central axis with an offset agora. The blocks are 144.70 by 72.35 meters, about 4 by 2 actus.

p. 96. Roman Cities

Among the Roman cities of Hippodamean plan with elongated blocks we can include the following: Teano,52 roads spaced at 39 by 59 meters, datable toward the end of the fourth century B.C.; Volsini,53 perhaps from the middle of the third century, with some blocks of 2 by 4 actus, others slightly more than 3 by 2 actus; Ferento54 from approximately the same period as Volsini, with blocks of 35 by 55 meters; Graviscae55 from 181 B.C., with blocks of 100 feet by 2 actus; Telesia56 of the Sillian era, with blocks of 1 actus by 300 feet.

The abundant research and studies57 concerning those Roman cities based on the intersection of two major axes (with quasisquare blocks) which mark the imposition of a new Roman order and give rise to important and varied city plans will require a new synthesis and ordering to account for the chronology and the geographic setting.


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