Is your stack of reading material on the nightstand getting low? If so, consider an interesting new book that’s just been published. Cities, by anthropologist and UCLA professor Monica L. Smith, takes an entertaining and enlightening look at the development of the world’s cities. Smith illustrates her points using personal archaeological fieldwork experiences in Egypt, Europe, South Asia, and Africa.
Six millennia ago, there were no cities on Earth. Today, more than half the world’s population lives in urban areas. Weaving together archaeology with history and contemporary observations, Smith explains the rise of the first urban developments and their connection to our own modern cities.
The book takes readers on a journey through the ancient world of Tell Brak in what is now Syria; Teotihuacan and Tenochtitlan in Mexico; Smith’s own dig sites in India; and the more well-known Pompeii, Rome, and Athens. Along the way, she presents the unique properties that made cities singularly responsible for the flowering of humankind: the development of networked infrastructure; the rise of an entrepreneurial middle class; and the culture of consumption, with a look at everything from take-out food to the secrets of trash.
Cities: The First 6,000 Years, by Monica L. Smith, published by Viking, ISBN 9780735223677 (hardcover).
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