Ancient Fortifications: A Compendium of Theory and Practice

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Silke Muth, Peter Schneider, Mike Schnelle, Peter De Staebler
Oxbow Books, Apr 30, 2016 - Social Science - 352 pages
Dedicated to the investigation of fortifications as important and integral elements of ancient built space, the present volume results from the activity of the German based international research network Fokus Fortifikation. Ancient Fortifications in the Eastern Mediterranean and is intended as a guide to research on ancient fortifications and a source of inspiration for new research.
Ancient city walls and other fortification structures have long been underestimated. Since the early years of the 21st century, research on ancient fortifications has experienced an international boom, particularly amongst young researchers. They approached the study of fortifications with fresh ideas and new aims, and felt the need to discuss the problems and potentials of these monuments and to develop harmonized research methods and objectives. The outcome is the present bilingual (English and German) book, which offers a condensed view of the network’s extended conversations. The goal is not so much to offer an overview on the development of ancient fortifications, but rather to present versatile and diverse approaches to their research and interpretation and to serve as a kickoff for a new understanding of this category of ancient buildings.

The book is divided into two parts: the first part includes 12 chapters on methods of interpretation, documentation, and field project organization; the systematic description and presentation of fortifications; the ‘building experience’; masonry forms and techniques; defensive, symbolic, and urbanistic functions and aspects; on fortifications in written sources, the visual arts, and as a historical source; and on regional and rural fortifications, and regionally confined phenomena. Part two is a catalogue that offers exemplary presentations of fortifications studied by network members; it is arranged in four sections: regions, sites, architectural elements and architectural details.

The book is Volume 1 in the new series Fokus Fortifikation Studies. Volume 2 in the series, Focus on Fortification: New Research on Fortifications in the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East (Oxbow Books), the proceedings of an international conference held in Athens in December 2012, will also appear in 2015.


1 Methods of Interpretation
Methodik und Organisation
3 Überlegungen zur systematischen Beschreibung und Präsentation
4 The Building Experience
5 Mauerwerksformen und Mauerwerkstechniken
6 Defensive Funktionen
7 Symbolische Funktionen
8 Urbanistic Functions and Aspects
12 Regional begrenzte Phänomene
Architectural Elements
Details of architectural elements
Abbreviations and Citations
Copyrights of Illustrations

Fortifications in Written Sources and the Visual Arts
10 Die Befestigung als historische Quelle
A Landscape Approach
Index of Ancient Personal names and Places

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About the author (2016)

Dr Silke Müth is a classical archaeologist. She did her PhD at the Free University of Berlin on the topography and town planning of ancient Messene and was as a lecturer there for five years, doing research on doing research on the city walls of Messene and Zeugma. Currently she is working on the symbolic functions of Greek and Roman fortifications as a research fellow at the German Archaeological Institute at Athens with funding from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Further research interests include Greek and Roman urbanism and interdisciplinary approaches between archaeology and ancient history.

Dr Peter Irenäus Schneider is a Bauforscher specialized in archaeology. He conducted several field projects in Turkey (Hasankeyf, Miletos) and Saudi-Arabia (Tayma), organized a number of conferences and edited volumes on ancient architecture. Currently he is visiting professor for Building Archaeology and Conservation of Sites at Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus - Senftenberg.

Mike Schnelle is a Bauforscher specialized in archaeology. Mr Schnelle has got extensive experience as a field archaeologist and is working on a PhD focussed on the Sabaean fortifications of the cities of Sirwah and Marib in Yemen. Since 2012 he is research associate at the Sanaa Branch of the German Archaeological Institute and he is currently involved in several projects of the Branch in Sirwah, Marib and Tan'im in Yemen and Yeha and Hawelti in Ethiopia.

Peter D. De Staebler is a classical archaeologist and architectural historian, with field experience in Turkey, Italy, and Greece. He completed his PhD at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, on the city wall of Aphrodisiais in Turkey, and was assistant director of the Aphrodisias Regional Survey Project. He has worked as a curator and teacher and presently is Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, in the Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development. Additional research interests include the use of spolia, monolithic columns, the display and interpretation of antiquity.

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