Settlement Structure in Laconia and Attica at the End of the Archaic Period: The Fractal Dimension


The contrast between the two great classical city-states, Sparta and Athens, pervades both ancient and modern literature. It is argued here that, quite apart from the cultural and institutional differences that have so fascinated historians and philosophers, a real contrast can also be observed in the structure of settlement in each polis that reflects a fundamental difference in the organization of their economies. The analysis exploits a novel methodology The rank-size relationship has long been valued for investigating settlement structure, but here the nature of that relationship as a fractal with its consequent property of self-similarity is exploited, using the fractal dimension to investigate the occupation of rural Attica and Laconia. It analyzes data from intensive survey and from the Attic bouleutic quotas to give insight into settlement at the dawn of the Classical period. The results of this new analysis are discussed and interpreted.

DOI: 10.3764/aja.113.3.405