Evolution of Cities - Was Re: Civilization and Warfare

Matthew Hill (mhill@WATARTS.UWATERLOO.CA)
Fri, 16 Dec 1994 09:32:03 -0500

On Thu, 15 Dec 1994, Scott Holmes wrote:

Much on Warfare deleted here
> Back to Ruby's post: It seems to me she has the cart before the horse.
> First, the process of social stratification must have started before cities
> developed, if only to create a leader (or council of leaders) to direct
> the creation of the city.

Yet more deletion

Perhaps I am reading more than was intended into the sentence last
quoted, but it seems to me to beg a couple of interesting questions.

First - Does leadership depend upon stratification? I take stratification
to imply a class system, not other types of social hierarchy.
Given the lack of documented analogues for 'pristine' urban
developments and the fairly well agreed upon position that the
'state' did not spring into existence with all its common
associations (classes, market systems, etc., etc.) I suspect that
class stratification may have been a consequence of rather than a
necessary condition for the emergence of urbanism.

Second - Why assume that "the creation of the city" was 'directed'?
Were early cities created or did they emerge?
Some early prehistoric cities certainly do seem to have been
purposefully organized at a high level - Teotihuacan, perhaps
the Indus cities though I see recent critiques of that older view,
pre-dynastic Ur? come to mind- Many others, however, seem to have
grown more comparably to the slums of Rio than to Brasilia. Might
many cities not have developed when populations were attracted to
a place as an unintended consequence of some other development
which took place there. The 'created' or 'directed' city seems
more often to be a rationalization of pre-existing agglomerations
or occasional new foundations on such models.