During the archaic period, Greece was made up of many city-states that were independent of each other. Each of them was referred to as a Polis that is translated into city-state. These city-states were typical structures of every community in the ancient Greece. Each polis consisted of an urban center that in most cases was fortified, a sacred center normally built on a high place known as acropolis that was charged with controlling the rest of the polis. Each polis was politically, religiously, legally, socially and judiciary independent from others.
One of the main features of the polis was an urban center. The urban center was located in the middle of the territory. It was fortified as many ancient cities as way of offering protection. This was the main center where majority of people lived. Mostly, the urban center was built around a hill. This was for the purse of offering a good view of the rest of the polis. At the center of the urban area, on top of the hill, there was an acropolis. The acropolis served as the religious place for all the people. It housed the city’s deity or god. In Athens, a statue of their deity, Athena was built. During invasions, it would act as a place of protection considering its raised height would offer an advantage.
The polis also had an agora, which means a public market. Although the city-states were independent from each other, they interacted for certain purposes such as trading. This market was at the heart of the communal activities. This is where majority of economic activities took place. It also served a place for political needs, where people would not only exchange goods, but also ideas. It was the meeting point for the people within the polis.
The other feature was a chora, which was outside the walls of the urban area. This can be compared to the countryside in modern day, where farming takes place. It had poor housing that could be abandoned in case of war. Majority of those who practiced farming lived in these areas. Although they were not within the urban center, they were part of the polis territory. Every polis had a chora surrounding the urban center.
Although the poleis were not, all the same when it comes to governance some characteristics existed in all of them. During their growth, the poleis were ruled by monarchies, where kings were succeeded by their heirs. This became increasingly unpopular as tyrants overthrew the monarchies to rule. This was followed by the involvement of citizens in running of the polis. This was the rise of democracy, a government for the people run by the people although it was not the same kind of democracy. Rather, only adult men had rights. Others, women, children, foreigners and slaves had no rights. Additionally, most of them had social classes, with slaves doing the most degrading work while the citizens did the better jobs such as running the trades within a market.
In conclusion, a polis had four main features that distinguished it. The first one was an urban centre built around a hill. It had a wall around that offered protection from invasions. At the middle of the urban centre was a hill, upon which an acropolis was built. This is where the local god or deity was sculpted and a temple built. It was also heavily fortified to offer more protection. The other feature was an agora, which refers to a market. This is where people met for trading and listening to ideas. The final feature is the Chora, which is comparable to the countryside in modern world. This is where farming took place.