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- Created 2012-02-21
, pólisanc), plural
póleːs), literally means city in Greek. It could also mean
and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the
ancient Greek city-states
and its contemporaries, so
is often translated as "
city-states, which developed during the
period, the ancestor of city, state and citizenship, and persisted (though with decreasing influence) well into
times, when the equivalent
, also meaning "citizenhood", while
applied to a non-sovereign local entity. The term
which originated in English (alongside the German
) does not fully translate the Greek term. The
were not like other primordial ancient city-states like
, which were ruled by a king or a small
, but rather a political entity ruled by its body of citizens. The traditional view of archaeologists, that the appearance of
at excavation sites could be read as a sufficient index for the development of a
was criticised by François Polignac in 1984 and has not been taken for granted in recent decades: the
of Sparta for example was established in a network of villages. The term
, which in archaic Greece meant city, changed with the development of the governance center in the city to indicate state (which included its surrounding villages), and finally with the emergence of a citizenship notion between the land owners it came to describe the entire body of citizens. The ancient Greeks did not always refer to
, and other
as such; they often spoke instead of the Athenians, Lacedaemonians, Thebans and so on. The body of citizens came to be the most important meaning of the term
in ancient Greece as a polis.
term which specifically meant the totality of
buildings and spaces is
from Wikipedia (last updated: 30 November), licensed under
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