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 A&H 106 Introduction to Archaeology


Cities in the Ancient World

Sometime around 10.000 BC, peoples in what is now Turkey moved from a nomadic to a sedentary way of life. Their settlements, like Çatalhöyük, are the first step on the way to the urbanized world we know today. But already in antiquity, the first great urban centres developed, long before the age of industrialization. Athens, Alexandria, Rome, and Jerusalem spring to mind. 

 Yet a history of cities can hardly stop there: ancient urban societies like those in the Indus Valley prospered at – in Western eyes – surprisingly early dates. The city of Erlitou in China covered 375 hectares as early as the beginning of the second millennium BC, and may have had up to 30.000 inhabitants. During what is known in Europe as the Middle Ages, much of the global East-West trade was conducted from cities in both the East and West of Africa, whose merchants sailed to the far East to exchange metal, spices, slaves, and knowledge from centres of learning like Timbuktu and Djenneh. 

 This course explores the life and importance of cities for the development of cultures and societies in the ancient world, ranging from early Bronze Age settlements to Medieval times. A range of themes will be investigated: what did living in towns and cities mean to the people who moved there? How did it affect their customs, religious or mundane? How did urbanization change the societies in which it occurred? This archaeology course deals with material culture and how to use it as evidence. It will present you with and use a range of archaeological skills, that will change the way you look at objects as bearers of information.   







Required for


This course is required in order to take the following courses:​                  

  • 200 level courses in Antiquity

This course is an alternative requirement for the following courses:  ​               
  • 200 level courses in History