Each city-state was divided into an urban core and surrounding countryside. A polis's characteristics included exterior walls for security as well as a public space with temples and government buildings. Temples and political structures were frequently constructed on top of a hill, or acropolis. The urban center often had a central place in the town's defense system: the agora, or market place.
The city of Athens is a great example to show what a Greek city looked like. It was founded around 500 B.C. by colonists from Sicyon. Over time, it became one of the largest cities in Europe. At its height, it had a population of about 200,000 people!
Athens was protected on all sides by large walls, which also served as the city's defenses. Inside the wall, residents could feel safe from invaders. However, even though inside the wall there was plenty of room for businesses, only wealthy people could afford to live there. The rest of the people lived in villages outside the wall.
Government offices were located in the heart of the city near the agora, while temples and schools were usually found in or near the suburbs. There you would find lots of open spaces where people could go for festivals or competitions without bothering other people.
In conclusion, a typical Greek city was composed of different areas for homes, work, institutions, and entertainment.
The ancient Greek communal structure was a city-state, or polis. In addition, most city-states had councils made up of free men who could vote on issues before them. They also received annual taxes from their citizens.
In order to become a citizen of a polis, one needed to be born into it; there were no other ways for someone to become part of a community. However, some people found ways around this by marrying into families who had citizenship rights, or by paying a fee known as a "tithe". Some city-states allowed foreigners to live within their borders if they paid their way through citizenship tests, served in the army, or worked as hired hands. Others only allowed certain classes of people to be citizens: slaves, for example, could not vote.
Citizenship was important because it provided many benefits. It meant that you could run for office and be judged by your peers rather than by royalty alone. It also meant that you could risk your life fighting in wars together, that you would be protected by your city's allies, and that when you died you would be buried in the city cemetery. Without citizenship, one's life was much harder. One had fewer rights, and could be sold into slavery.
A city or polis has the unique feature of allowing humans to practice one of their greatest, most human capacities, which the Greeks termed logos, or reasoned discourse. This capability is implicated in every political discourse in which humans exercise choice about how to live and how to construct social life itself. A city is distinguished by the presence of walls around an area within which people can gather for trade and defense against attack. A city also contains public buildings, such as temples or theaters, where people can go to seek information about politics or entertainment.
In ancient Greece, there were many different types of cities. Some were large, with populations of 10,000 or more; others were small, with population numbers less than 500. But whatever their size, all cities had much in common. They all had walled areas within which the elite lived, while the rest of the population lived outside the walls in villages or smaller towns. All cities had markets where goods could be bought and sold, although these markets were not always inside the walled area itself. There were usually public buildings, such as temples or theaters, where people could go to seek information about politics or entertainment. And all cities had rulers who were elected by citizens voting on candidates put forward by parties or organizations.
People came up with names for different type of cities at different times.
The palace, the primary site of worship, and the homes of all the individuals who served as royal "back-up": civil workers, military members, craftsmen, and traders were all protected by a thick outside wall. The ancient world's cities all had the same layout. How did an old city appear? First, there was probably no one single event that created every city gate. They evolved over time based on what people needed or wanted from their settlements.
City gates were important structures within urban walls. They provided access to the city for pedestrians and vehicles, and sometimes even housed small shops or restaurants. City gates were built for security but also allowed citizens to avoid dangerous streets inside the city wall. There are several types of city gates including double, wooden, stone, and iron. Archaeologists can tell how long ago a city gate was built by how many years have passed since it was last rebuilt or repaired. A city gate may remain standing after it is obsolete because it serves some other purpose such as housing livestock or a public market.
When archaeologists study ancient cities, they often find remnants of weapons used in wars between kings or presidents. These include spears, arrows, swords, and knives. In some cases, soldiers even took their weapons with them when they moved into new cities! Swords were very useful tools for protecting yourself and others from attackers, but they could also be used to kill people.
Because of the mountain ranges that separated each village, Greece's physical topography promoted the creation of city-states, and as a result, ancient Greece formed into tiny, autonomous city-states with their own governments. Greeks were deeply invested in their polis. If one were destroyed, they would fight to the death to save it. This passionate commitment helped fuel the military might of Athens and Sparta.
In addition to being protected by its geographical features, ancient Greece was also well supplied with water from numerous rivers and lakes. This made warfare even more important since it provided a way for cities to gain prestige and honor. During battles, soldiers would wear clothes colored red in remembrance of the blood spilled in war.
The need for security led to the development of powerful city-states who fought with each other for supremacy. Only one city state was strong enough to defeat the others - this is why we see so many wars between ancient Greece's city-states. Sometimes these wars lasted years or even centuries until finally one city state would be victorious over the others.
After the fall of Troy, people started to move away from urban life and settle down in villages, which is when agriculture became important again. This caused the decline of city-states because they weren't needed anymore since everyone could grow their own food. However, this same reason makes them interesting to study because it shows how different cultures developed after different needs arose.