Sponsored by The International Research Network Fokus Fortifikation (DFG)
Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 2:00pm - Sunday, December 9, 2012 - 2:00pm
The Danish Institute at Athens
Herefondos 14 A, Plaka
Athens 105 58
The International Research Network Fokus Fortifikation (Deutches Archäologisches Institut/Freie Universität Berlin,TOPOI/funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) has in a three years period of innovative work discussed several research-topics on and around fortifications in Antiquity. The Network now aims to present and debate its preliminary results in the context of a major international conference. Rather than merely focus on the role fortifications played as utilitarian military architecture, a major objective of the conference is to highlight fortifications as consciously structured elements within the built space of ancient societies. Fortifications served functions on various levels which are reflected in their individual configuration and form, and which are connected directly to their actual historical and political contexts. In addition, fortifications are embedded in regional contexts of various extension and are thus always to be understood as products of specific practical conditions such as the available resources in the local natural environment, financing, as well as the technical knowhow of the allocated workforce .
The Network happily invites archaeologists, architectural historians, historians and other specialists working on ancient fortifications to send proposals for talks that present new research in the topical framework set out above, be it based on archaeological, written, or other types of source material. Although the Network has its main focus on ancient Greek fortifications in the eastern Mediterranean, researchers working on fortifications of all ancient cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and Asia Minor are encouraged to send proposals.
The following sessions are planned (detailed description below)
1. Origins of Fortifications in the Eastern Mediterranean
2. Physical Surroundings and Technique: The Building Experience
3. Function and Semantics
4. Historical Context
5. The Fortification of Regions
6. Regionally Confined Phenomena
The individual sessions will be composed of a mix of speakers drawn from Network members, invited speakers, and the submitted abstracts. Members of the Network will act as session chairs. Talks will be of 20 min. length, followed by a brief discussion. A longer discussion will conclude each session.
Procedure and practicalities: Abstracts of a maximum of 500 words and with clear indication of which of the six sessions it relates to must be submitted to Sine Riisager (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Danish Institute no later than 31 December 2011. The selection of abstracts will be announced by 31 January 2012. We ask for innovative contributions according to the conference objectives and the session topics described below.
The organizers envisage a publication that will be issued as soon as possible after the conference. Thus, all speakers will be asked to submit an article version of their talk one week before the conference at the latest. After the conference, authors will be given a period of two months to modify their submitted articles.
The organizers hope to raise funds to cover travel and accommodation costs for speakers but cannot promise to take care of all such expenses at this stage.
The conference will take place in the Danish Institute at Athens, Herefondos 14, 10558, Athens, Greece, from Thursday 6 December (2012) ca. 2 pm to Sunday 9 December ca. 2 pm, and will include an introductory lecture and reception on the evening of Friday December 7.
Organisation committee: Dr Rune Frederiksen (Danish Institute at Athens), Dr Silke Müth (Athens), Dr Peter Schneider (DAI Berlin, Architekturreferat) and Dipl.-Ing. Mike Schnelle (DAI Berlin, Orient-Abteilung).
Cooperating institutions: German Archaeological Institute (DAI)/Division of Building Archaeology (Berlin) and Athens Department, and the Danish Institute at Athens (DIA).
Conference languages: English, German and French.
Description of the Sessions
This session is dedicated to the broader historical and cultural context for early Greek fortifications, with the goal to identify the origins of the fortification phenomenon as such in other cultures, and to identify the origins of particular elements of fortification. Contributions about fortifications of non-Greek cultures, such as Assyrian, Hittite, Lycian, Pheonician, early Arabic, Etruscan and Samnite, contrasted with Greek fortifications are therefore very welcome. Alternatively, contributions may focus on the role of fortifications in the early history of non-Greek civilizations.
Another major concern of this session is the characteristics of pre-classical Greek fortifications and the role fortification played in the Greek world of the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. We encourage presentations of new studies on fortifications of the Greek world during these periods, in particular about their architecture and topography, but also about the relationship between fortification and settlement.
In contrast with other types of ancient building, fortifications were typically huge undertakings and consisted of a number of semi-independent structures such as towers and gates as well as wall curtains and ramparts, often running many kilometres through the ancient landscapes. For this reason, fortifications constitute a compromise between their intended function on the one hand and the available technical and economic resources on the other. This session works to identify which elements of a fortification were generated by practical necessities that the builders had to observe and which characteristics were optional. This latter group represents the body of deliberate choices made by the builders and are the elements that provide evidence for discussion of various levels of function or aesthetic components. The goal of this session, however, is to analyse the practical circumstances that had to be taken into consideration by the builders and evaluate the options at their disposal. Speakers should address which characteristics of a fortification depended on the availability of materials, time and money; on the landscape through which the wall ran; on manpower and workshops; or on available know-how, local building technique and traditions. Such an approach may illuminate details of the building-process of a fortification.
Particular questions that could be addressed are: to what extent the material used depended on the local geology and local ways of construction; to what extent wall-types and surface-treatment depended on the material used and the behaviour of this material when quarried or worked; or how various workshops may be identified. Research on the economic evaluation of the building process and studies of experimental archaeological nature are welcome.
The defensive character is often singled out as the most important, if not the only, function of a fortification. Although the defensive character may often stand in the foreground, many examples show that this cannot have been the sole purpose of fortifications and that in some instances other functions might even be more important. Moreover, every city-wall serves important urban functions. This session concentrates on evaluating the various functions of fortifications and the question of their separation. Particular themes and questions to be addressed are:
a) Military Functions: what concrete strategy lay behind a fortification-complex? With how much precision is it possible to estimate from the architecture what equipment, weapons, and soldiers defended a fortification? How trustworthy is dating based on a correlation between developments in poliorcetics and fortifications? In which cases do we know details about attacks and defence strategies? What models of strategy are shown to have been successful in certain periods, and perhaps unsuccessful in others and where are weaknesses to be found?
b) Symbolic Functions: where and based on which observations may symbolic functions of fortifications be identified, and what are their nature? How is it possible to distinguish these from defensive functions, and where are the overlaps? To what extent may the symbolic functions of fortifications be connected to certain political or historical conditions, and how do these change across the regional and chronological horizons of Antiquity?
c) Urban Functions: on which levels does a fortification function as the boundary for the settlement it encompasses, and in what way does a wall express the significance of what it encircles? How is the relationship defined in terms of planning between wall and settlement – for example planned connections between gates and streets, major public spaces, monuments, sanctuaries and cemeteries? How were the water-supply and drainage integrated in the wall construction? How did the wall function as boundary, in the widest sense of the word, in times of peace, and how, if at all, was access to the city controlled?
This session is dedicated to the historical contextualisation of fortifications and aims to discuss the following core themes:
a) Value and usability of written and iconographical sources for dating and interpretation of fortifications: In which contexts do fortifications appear in historical sources? Which information can be used after such sources have been exposed to critical scrutiny? To what extent can written sources – in interplay with archaeological data – contribute to the question of dating fortifications? What value do depictions of walls (sculpture, vase painting and coins) have for our understanding of fortifications?
b) Information inherent in fortifications as a source for understanding their historical context: what information can be drawn out of various building phases or reconstructions of fortifications about the history of the communities that erected them and their major political or economic developments? To what extent may observations of wall-destruction from attack or undermining, ramps and counter-measures inform about specific actions of war?
c) The effect of historical circumstances on the erection and constitution of fortifications and vice versa, i.e. the effect of a fortification on the history of settlement or region: How far did political, historical and other social circumstances influence the construction or re-construction of fortifications or specific forms? What are the observable effects of certain fortifications on the broader history of a settlement or a region? How may we describe the success of a fortification: whom did it frighten off, which attacks did it withstand, when and why was it overcome? What observable socio-economic effects did a fortification have on the community that erected it?
This session deals with the study of fortifications in the landscape. It aims to determine the factors that governed the construction and position of fortifications in vast regions. Several problems and issues are to be addressed when studying regional fortifications in different historical and cultural contexts.
It has been common to study rural fortifications from a military point of view. Modern warfare has often used such fortifications to defend countries or to block invasion routes, and this strategy has influenced our understanding of ancient regional fortifications. Although ancient fortifications may have been built by armies in order to reinforce strategic positions or to offer protection for troops defending a border, it is simplistic to adopt an exclusively military approach. Explanations should also be sought in connection with long-term factors and aims, which influenced the installation of regional defensive networks. However, careful dating and further investigation, e.g. concerning intervisibility, road networks, regional borders, political contexts etc., are needed before grouping different fortifications in a global defensive network.
Particular questions of this session are: Which methods can be adopted for studying fortifications in a regional context? How can we define the limits of a region and describe its cultural or political character? How do we interpret and analyse the fortifications scattered in the landscape, and by which criteria are we able to decide what function a fortification (e.g. city walls, forts, guard towers, watchtowers, farm towers) had within in the landscape? What are the underlying principles for the distribution-patterns of these fortifications in a given landscape or region? How did the whole system “work” together, if it ever did?
When fortifications are studied on a trans-regional level, it is sometimes possible to identify characteristics which are specific only to a limited region - more rarely to several limited regions - in a certain period. Such characteristics will often be found to derive from similar geological or topographical circumstances, which would determine choice of material, type of masonry, methods of construction, or even poliorcetic concepts. Such characteristics may also be caused by comparable practical circumstances surrounding the construction of the fortifications, as the technical know-how, financial resources, or certain periods of particular explicit danger. In addition, regionally confined phenomena may materialise as certain architectonic features, traditions in crafts or ways of design. This session will discuss regionally confined phenomena of ancient fortifications drawn from various levels, their origin, their nature, and the limits of their extension. A major ambition of this session is to attempt to clarify whether regionally confined phenomena are mostly a product of practical preconditions, or if fortifications to a certain extent were an arena for regionally confined tradition or style, and that fortifications therefore – by and large – can be said to have been public monuments erected with a conscious regional accentuation.