The Abdera City State


The ancient cities in Greece were characterized by unique structures and architectural designs that remain outstanding until today. The planning of the ancient city-states portrayed a high degree of professionalism and a significant level of prowess. Essentially, every ancient city-state in Greece has its history of existence and growth. However, several studies have established that most ancient Greek cities developed due to trade and other commercial activities. According to Archibald, the trading and commerce activities brought people together, and the continued meeting of people culminated in the formation of cities. However, it is important to identify that war was another factor that contributed to the growth of ancient city-states in Greece. In times of war, people ran away from the war torn areas to places that were considered peaceful. Therefore, people left their homes to go and start a peace life elsewhere so that they can avoid being inconvenienced by unexpected conflicts. In the process of vacating their ancestral origins to a new location, they could meet other people and form either social or economic unions.

Most ancient city-states emerged due to the union formed by people fleeing from warring communities to form peaceful dwellings. In this regard, it is imperative to focus on a particular city to learn more about some important historical information, phases of growth and the various developments that have been made over time. One of the notable city-states that emerged outstanding in the ancient Greek was Abdera. The Abdera City State is among the ancient cities whose existence were largely influenced by war. The discussion for this assignment will be based on the city of Abdera regarding its site, history, morphological features and the various stages of its development.

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Abdera was a major Greek city found on the coast of Thrace. The city was located at about seventeen kilometers east- northeast of the mouth of River Nestos. In present days, Abdera is located in the Xanthi regional unit of Thrace in Greece. The city has an approximate population of over 19,000 people. Below the location of the city of Abdera. From the map, it can be observed that Abdera was a coastal city-state whose neighbors included Calazomenes and Toes. The neighbors later migrated to Abdera, which contributed to the formation of the strong city of Abdera.

History of Abdera City State

The foundation of Abdera can be traced back in 654 BC. The City was established by Hercules in honor of Abderus. The two (Hercules and Abderus) are said to have been close friends and they had acquired some territories together. Research shows that the first people to settle in Abdera were Clazomenae. By 544 BC the city had started showing some remarkable growth due to the migration of the Teos people to Abdere. The migration was due to feuds that erupted in Persia during that period. Between 512 and 513, the Persians conquered the Abdere region and dominated most of the activities. The high population of the city increased the trade activities thereby making Abdera one of the wealthiest cities in the region. However, the city’s importance started declining in the region at the latter part of the 14th century BC. At this time, the neighboring cities had improved their development strategies and therefore posed a great threat in the growth of Abdera. It is imperative to note that the success of the Abdera City was contributed by the large territorial possession and strategic positioning. For instance, the city was served by two great roads passages and ports that linked the region to Thracian and Macedonian coasts. The city was later made a municipality in 2011 after the merger of three municipal units.

Major morphological features

Ports and harbors

Graham states that Abdera was established between two natural harbors that were so influence in its economic prosperity. The harbors could host large ships carrying merchandise from the neighboring ports. In essence, the Abdera residents depended on the ports for transporting goods from the city to other place and goods from other places to the city. The ports played a significant role in expanding the territories of the city states since they eased transportation of goods and people. It is worth noting the ports in Abdera coast were strategically positioned and shielded from strong winds. Therefore, sailors felt safe since ships were protected from possible destruction by the strong wind. Studies reveal that space was another feature that characterized the ports. There was enough space for ships together with the load and therefore business people were assured of good condition of their products in transit.

Road network

The city state was had a good network of roads that enhanced uninterrupted internal transport. The road network was quite reliable and therefore transports of finished products to the market or acquisition of raw materials to the production site. In this regard, it can be observed that a well-organized road system paved way for the massive wealth creation and advancement in trade. Apparently, transport is among the basic factors that drive the economy of a given society. The setting up of an efficient road transport network was a major milestone in setting up the foundation of economic growth for the Abdera City State.

Diverse population

According to Bourbou, the residents of Abdera were immigrants from different Greece regions. The diverse origins facilitated the merging of different cultures to form a dynamic social union. In essence, different cultures employ varied approaches when executing their duties. In this regard, the city enjoyed a dynamic exposure to the social, political and economic fraternities. Therefore, the approaches employed to address challenges were quite advanced since they were based on the practices of people from different cultures and regions. Moreover, the diverse population ensured that issues such as hatred and discrimination were minimized since the city’s leadership was composed of people from different ethnic groups. However, some few cases of corruption, ethnicity, nepotism and social disagreements were experienced.

The presence of people from different origins was very important in the development and growth of the economy. For instance, people shared ideas with the authorities on how to improve trading activities and boost wealth creation. After receiving the information, the authorities would establish effective policies that favor the entire population. Therefore, it can be seen that the diverse population severed as a store for knowledge that was quite inevitable as far as the city’s development was concerned. On top of providing economic ideas, the population provided adequate human resources that served in different capacities within the city.

Well-structured residential, business and public facilities

Abdera was characterized by super quality buildings that served as either private or public houses. The houses were fitted with luxurious features such as baths and sanctuaries to enhance maximum utility by the occupants. The designing and planning of the houses was so advanced compared to the neighboring regions. Apart from the public and private houses, an archeological museum was constructed to preserve the artefacts regarding the social, economic and political lives of the Abdera residents. Among the products stored in the museum included the weapons used in the ancient times, pottery, coins, jewellery and trade goods among others. In essence, the houses and artefacts found in the archeological museum reveal that Abdera was a wealthy state. Some of the modern architectural designs were delivered from the works of ancient architects of Abdera City State.

Development phases

The development of Abdera City State can be classified into three phases. The ancient phase, the middle phase and the final phase. The ancient phase involved structuring of the city and general planning. At this stage, the urban authorities concentrated on ensuring that basic structures were established. For instance, the construction of transport and commercial facilitates was given priority over other developments. Moreover, residential areas were put up to ensure that people migrating to the city had places to settle and conduct their activities effectively. Additionally, both financial and physical security were improved so that people could conduct business without fear of theft and financial insecurity. In essence, the ancient phase set the pace for Abdera City future growth.

The middle phase was marked with advanced developments and massive commercial activities. The increased migration of people into Abdera increased the agricultural and commercial activities. In this regard, the city’s wealth increased and more buildings were established. In addition, more advanced infrastructures such as ports were developed to enhance smooth business operations. It is during this phase when people ventured into specific specializations such as agriculture, trade, transport and health. The number of activities in the city state had increased and some activities posed health threats. In this regard, the need for health professions emerged and various health intuitions were established. In addition, communication was improved by introducing communication facilitates that would transfer information between different areas with the city.

The final phase was experienced in the last quarter of 4th century BC. At this point, Abdera had reached its peak of development and structural growth. However, the growth of the neighboring cities posed stiff competition that delayed continued growth. The rapid development of the city declined and challenges such as inaccessibility of some areas increased. Abdera had acquired diverse territories by the end of 4th century BC and it became hard for effective management of all its territorial possession. Moreover, unfavorable climatic conditions such as floods adversely affected sea transport thereby delaying business operations. Wealth creation stagnated and the expenses to restore the state to its favorable moments rose very high.


The ancient Greece was rich in culture, economic activities and political structures. Most of the architectural basic in the modern days are delivered from ancient Greece. In essence, the organization structure of most states in the ancient Greece prove that the early people were so creative and dynamic in doing things. Moreover, the ancient world valued quality other than quantity. This can be proven by the fact that some of the architectural works and products made some thousand years ago can still be found. In essence, a lot can be learnt from the early city states in Greece. For instance, preservation of history is very important for the present and future generation. Therefore, the government and other stakeholders should ensure that a country’s history is preserved and protected so that the future generations can have a foundation of knowledge on the various aspects of life.

Abdera is a good example of successful ancient Greek states that benefited from dynamisms in the social, political and economic platforms. The organization of Abdera can be used as for benchmarking by modern governments to provide a guideline on effective management. From the history of Abdera, it can be deduced that the structuring and positioning of a city is very essential as far as remarkable progress is concerned. In this regard, city planning and designing of buildings with commercial cities should be given important consideration when developing an urban area. The success of a city or country is highly dependent on the structure of operations. In addition, the transport network and communication system play a significant role in the success of economic activities in a given city or country. In this regard, it is important for city authorities in a country to establish effective and sufficient transport and communication systems so that people can conduct their day-to-day activities without critical disruptions.

Trade and commerce are inevitable factors of development in every country. Therefore, the government and the private sector should unite in developing a conducive business environment for both individuals and institutional investors. In addition, security should be enhanced to protect the interest of the government, individual residents and the private sector. In essence, urban planning should be done efficiently to accommodate the dynamic activities that affect the people’s life and inclusive development.

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