chapter  2
16 Pages

The classical world

From Greek city states to the Roman empire
ByPaul Delsalle

This chapter considers examples throughout the Greek and Roman worlds, so covering not just the Mediterranean world, but the peripheries of the Roman empire. Up to the end of the fifth century Greek culture had been essentially oral, one where information and knowledge, as in all societies where written records are unknown, were committed to the communal memory. The idea of archives relates the places where the records were kept. By the end of the fifth century bce, some 20 Greek cities had a dedicated building, an archeion, which housed both public and sometimes private documents. There is extensive evidence for the wide range of material housed in the Metroon. The Metroon derived its name from its location at the shrine to the mother goddess Meter or Metroan and led to the association of the goddess with the records. Types of records and choices of media developed over the millennium which concluded with the fall of the Western Roman Empire.