The Fabric of Cities

Aspects of Urbanism, Urban Topography and Society in Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome


The Fabric of Cities presents an interdisciplinary collection of articles on urbanism in ancient Mesopotamia, Israel, Greece and Rome, which focuses on the social dimension of cities' topographical features. The contributions of this book offer investigations of neighbourhoods, city gates, streets, temples and palaces drawing on textual and archaeological sources as well as art. The topics treated in this work encompass the diverse functions of public and marginal spaces in Mesopotamian cities and Rome, the role of agency in the development of Babylonian neighbourhoods, the relationship between public and private in Assyrian palaces, the connection between political strategies and temple building in Sumerian literary texts, and the communicative uses of language in Classical Greek texts to talk about urban space.
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Biographical Note

Natalie N. May, PhD (2008), Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is an Assyriologist and a specialist in art and history of the Ancient Near East. Her particular interests are comparative studies in Mesopotamia and the Bible, iconoclasm, and prodopography of ancient scholars. She is an author of many publications in these fields, including Iconoclasm and Text Destruction in the Ancient Near East and Beyond (Chicago Univ., 2012).
Ulrike Steinert, Ph.D. (2007) in Assyriology, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, is a Research Fellow at Freie Universität Berlin. Her research focuses on the Akkadian language as well as the cultural history, anthropology and medicine of Ancient Mesopotamia. She is the author of Aspekte des Menschseins im Alten Mesopotamien. Eine Studie zu Person und Identität im 2. und 1. Jt. v. Chr. (Brill, 2012).

Table of contents

Introduction: Urban Topography as a Reflection of Society? Natalie N. May and Ulrike Steinert
The Cost of Cosmogony: Ethical Reflections on Resource Extraction, Monumental Architecture and Urbanism in the Sumerian Literary Tradition. J. Cale Johnson
Gates and their Functions in Mesopotamia and Ancient Israel. Natalie N. May
City Streets: Reflections on Urban Society in the Cuneiform Sources of the Second and First Millennium BCE. Ulrike Steinert
The Babylonian Cities: Investigating Urban Morphology Using Texts and Archaeology. Heather D. Baker
From bābānu to bētānu, Looking for Spaces in Late Assyrian Palaces. David Kertai
„Ich bin die Grenze der Agora.“ Zum kognitiven Stadtbild der Athener in klassischer Zeit. Jan Stenger
Religiöse Topographie Roms: Der Aventin. Innerhalb der Stadt und außerhalb des Pomeriums. Darja Šterbenc Erker


All interested in ancient urbanism and the cultures of the Near East as well as Greek and Roman antiquity, including historians, social anthropologists, and archaeologists.


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