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Durham University

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Publication details

Lawrence, D. & Wilkinson, T. J. (2015). Hubs and upstarts: pathways to urbanism in the northern Fertile Crescent. Antiquity 89(344): 328-344.

Author(s) from Durham


The origins of urbanism are a controversial subject, with neo-evolutionary progress through graduated stages of ‘civilisation’ still having significant influence despite criticism, while others in the field prefer more diverse, regionally based trajectories. Using data collected over 30 years and applying the full range of archaeological and historical sources, the authors offer an alternative reading of the evidence, identifying multiple pathways to urbanism within a single region—northern Mesopotamia. Here, early urbanism was a phased and pulsating phenomenon that could be sustained only within particular geographic parameters and for limited periods. Older urban hubs, growing slowly, were accompanied by rapidly expanding new sites, with the combination of the different forms demonstrating the complexities of urban growth.