Introduction: Success of Cities
In this exhibition, we deal with the following question: How do we trace the success of a city in the archaeological record? In other words: What kind of archaeological record do successful cities leave behind? Five cities, Ephesus, Athens, Butrint, Tarsus and Shivta, are used here as case-studies. These ancient cities continued into Byzantine times, and therefore make for interesting laboratories of change and adaptation.
Today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050, showing thus the long trend that can be followed in this exhibition. Knowledge of the process that led to the formation of cities and an examination of them in their early periods can provide insight into the achievements and failures of our own cities. The book of the economist Edward Glaeser ‘Triumph of the City’ (2011) presents to the reader a very clear idea of what a city needs to be triumphant: change. He proposes a number of examples of how cities that are capable of keeping their ‘face’ fresh and attractive and live longer than others.
This online exhibition sheds light on an important period of change and development in five ancient cities by focusing on aspects of religion, entertainment and daily life during Byzantine time.