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The Earliest Cities

Posted By Stiven Reed     November 30, 2022    

The history of humankind is extremely long and complicated. It began many thousands of years ago and still continues. However, there are some facts and periods that became crucial and eventually changed the way people’s history went. Lots of academic writing services describe and discuss root causes. One of the defining phenomena is the emergence of the first city. Undoubtedly, there were numerous settlements around the world that appeared at a different time. Nevertheless, each of them was extremely significant in terms of human development and further emergence of the states. The earliest cities shared some core features, including similar social structure, labor division, and efforts to achieve the surplus of products. These cities emerged in places that were the most appropriate for the newly appearing agricultural techniques. Thus, the earliest cities were centers of social change bringing people together and making them united because of a common goal of creating a safe and prosperous place to live.

As most scientists believe, the city of Jericho was the first to appear around 8000 BC. It appeared on the land that is nowadays a part of modern Israel. Some people argue whether Jericho should be considered a city and not a simple settlement as all the other ones. However, it possessed some features that made it distinctive. Namely, Jericho had a more complex social structure and hierarchy. People of that city tried to provide security for their families by building a wall around the city. Moreover, there was a primitive infrastructure which included certain buildings for social use. As a Neolithic city, Jericho appeared in the place where cultivation of crops was possible meaning access to fresh water and loam. The city of Jericho passed from one group of dwellers to another, but it became an example of people’s earliest attempt of city construction. Social structure with a certain hierarchy and willingness to protect from possible external threats were the features that Jericho shared with other early cities. Thus, the city of Jericho met the criteria that proved it to be a city, even though it was relatively small and some scientists doubt such a status.

Another early city can be found in modern Turkey. Its name is Catal Huyuk and it emerged around 6000 BC.. This city was three times bigger than Jericho, and it looked much different. Catal Huyuk consisted a complex system of interconnected rectangular dwellings built together without any streets between them. Such a structure was designed to prevent the dwellers from an external threat. There were no windows on the outer walls of the structure making it impossible for anyone to get into the dwellings from outside. What is more, there were no doors in the walls. One had to use a ladder to reach the roof and get inside the house from a hole in that roof. Just as Jericho, Catal Huyuk was a Neolithic city which presupposed available loam and water sources. Thus, the reason for a particular place of emergence was a common feature for different early cities. Furthermore, Catal Huyuk was similar to Jericho in terms of providing security.

The most recent example of early cities among the observed ones is several Mesopotamian cities, including Uruk, Eridu, and Ur. Uruk was the biggest and the most developed one. This city existed around 3000 BC and was characterized by numerous changes in comparison with the previously observed cities. Uruk was much larger having as many as 50,000 residents and an area of 1,100 acres. This city was much more socially developed and had a more clear power hierarchy than the earlier cities. It was a theocracy, with a king-priest ruler. Uruk had a complex social structure, and it was extremely noticeable in the division of labor. Even though all these characteristics were more developed than in the previously named early cities, they were still common for all of them. What is more, Uruk, as well as the other Mesopotamian cities, used its ability to conduct agricultural processes from a beneficial geographic position. It was situated near the rivers that allowed its residents to get fresh water. It is not strange that Uruk was much more developed and bigger than Jericho and Catal Huyuk because it appeared four millennials later, which meant that populations were bigger and their level of cultural development was higher. However, social structure and main prerequisite for a city development were similar to those of the other early cities.

The three examples of the earliest cities demonstrate that such settlements had many things in common. They included access to loam and fresh water, social hierarchy, division of labor, and providing security for those who lived in those places. The earliest cities had different population and size, but most of them were similar in terms of social structure. An interesting fact about the earliest cities is that one of the most important things to provide to the population was common security. Nevertheless, such factors as food surplus were also extremely significant. Social structure became more complex and presupposed further cities’ development. The newer among the observed cities were much more developed, but their main features were similar to those of the earlier ones.

The Earliest Cities
    • Last updated November 30, 2022
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