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An Island Economy

Hellenistic and Roman Pottery from Hierapytna, Crete


Scott Gallimore

This book offers the first presentation of Hellenistic and Roman period ceramic assemblages from the city of Hierapytna, located on the southeast coast of Crete. Recovered from three rescue excavations in the heart of the ancient city, this pottery records a diachronic history of Hierapytna from the third century B.C. to the seventh century A.D. Through meticulous analysis of these assemblages, including a detailed catalogue of all of the major ceramic categories encountered on Greco-Roman sites and an exhaustive economic synthesis that places Hierapytna in regional and international contexts, Scott Gallimore documents the growth and decline of this ancient city. An evolving role in numerous exchange networks enabled Hierapytna to grow from a promising Hellenistic center into a major Roman metropolis before it succumbed to pressures that led to a steady decline throughout the Late Roman period. An Island Economy outlines the historical trajectory of an eastern polis and demonstrates that its rise and fall are connected to pan-Mediterranean exchange networks, a subject that will be of great interest to archaeologists, ceramicists, economic historians, and students of the Greco-Roman world.
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Chapter Two: The Polis of Hierapytna


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The Polis of Hierapytna

Scholarly interest in Roman Crete has increased significantly during the past three decades. Lacking in this proliferation of research is a comprehensive assessment of the history and archaeology of the polis of Hierapytna. F. Guizzi (2001) produced a monograph concerned with the Hellenistic history of the city, but ended his discussion with the Roman conquest. For the Roman period there are brief treatments by G.W.M. Harrison (1993, 213–21) and I.F. Sanders (1982, 139–40). Some specific attention has been given to Hierapytna’s epigraphic (Baldwin Bowsky 1994, 2006), numismatic (Caramessini-Oeconomides and Kleiner 1975; Hackens 1971; Raven 1938; Stefanaki 2001, 2007), and sculptural finds (Apostolakou 1980; Bergmann 2010; Beschi 1985; Dörig 1994; Kane and Reynolds 1985; Portale 1992–3; Raftopoulou 1975), but little additional work has been completed. A primary goal of this study is to produce a thorough overview of ancient Hierapytna during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The city was the dominant polis of eastern Crete and one of the most important administrative centers on the island in antiquity.

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