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Early Cities: New Perspectives on Pre-Industrial Urbanism

Organized by Joyce Marcus and Jeremy Sabloff

May 18-20, 2005
Washington, DC

Meeting Overview:
Many disciplines (including Sociology, Demography, Geography, Architecture and Urban Planning, Economics, Anthropology, History) are increasingly interested in "urbanism," particularly since much of the world is being converted into cities and vast metropolitan areas.

Although scholars in these fields are committed to understanding and helping to resolve today's urban problems, our knowledge would clearly be enhanced by:

  1. studying the origin and development of the world's early cities,
  2. utilizing a comparative perspective to document urban developments, and
  3. taking a regional approach that combines the study of cities with studies of their geographical setting and their social, political, and economic networks.

A diverse group of scholars, who have employed different methods and a wide array of perspectives in their study of early cities, are featured at this colloquium. Evaluating the data from archaeological case studies of ancient cities around the globe will enable us to compare and contrast different cities and geographic sectors of the world, as well as isolate specific and general patterns. By examining the conditions that fostered the development of the first cities and looking at their subsequent development over centuries and millennia, it may be possible to discover trends and patterns and thus gain insights that not only will better illuminate the past but will be relevant to the modern world. The ten archaeological case studies will be commented on by a group of discussants from fields such as geography, economics, urban planning, architecture, and environmental psychology.

Internationally renowned archaeologists Prof. Bruce Trigger (McGill University) and Prof. Colin Renfrew (Cambridge University) will give the Sackler Lecture and the Colloquium keynote lecture, respectively, to open what promises to be a very exciting and informative event.


May 18

Joyce Marcus and Jeremy Sabloff
Welcome and Overview

Sackler Lecture
The City Through Time and Space: Transformations of Centrality, Colin Renfrew

May 19: Case Study Presentations

A Tale of Two Cities: Urban Landscapes in Lowland Mesopotamia and Highland Anatolia
Elizabeth C. Stone

Royal Cities and Cult Centers, Administrative Towns, and Specialized Workmen's Settlements: The Highly Organized Network of the Ancient Egyptian Territorial State
Kathryn A. Bard

The Origin and Character of Indus Urbanism: New Perspectives and Challenges
Jonathan Mark Kenoyer

Stages in the Development of Urban Life in Early China (4000-250 BC)
Lothar von Falkenhausen

Between Conceptual Blueprints and Dynamic Realities: the Formation of Roman cities in the Mediterranean
Janet DeLaine

Formal Planning and Organic Change in the Cities of the North-West Provinces of the Roman Empire
Janet DeLaine presented on behalf of Michael J. Jones

Early African Cities: Their Origins and Role in the Shaping Urban and Rural Interactions Spheres
Chap Kusimba

The City in Prehispanic Central Mexico
Kenneth Hirth

Pomp and Circumstance: Cities in a Maya Landscape
K. Anne Pyburn

A Chain of Cities: Governance, Exchange and Ideology in Inka Urban Centers
Craig Morris

May 20 - Discussants
Brian J. L. Berry
Mogens Hansen
Paul M. Hohenberg
Stephen Tobriner
Karl Butzer

Open Discussion and Isolation of Key Themes and Topics
Moderated by Joyce Marcus and Jeremy Sabloff

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