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This chapter reviews current knowledge of the first period of South Asian urbanism, situating the Indus cities in their larger regional landscapes. It addressees the end of the Indus tradition and the cities that followed more than a millennium later. In conceptualizing the larger Indus phenomenon, questions of scale rise to the fore. The geographic extent of sites containing Indus material culture assemblages is enormous. The chapter explores two very different urban trajectories and urban landscapes of ancient South Asia. The first one is characterized by a small number of massive widely spaced cities that existed as islands of urbanism in a vast sea of villages. The other one is characterized by closely packed urban places in a landscape of cities. The duration of many Early Historic Indian cities continued much longer, many remaining vibrant centers of population long after the Mauryan Empire's fall and through numerous successive states and empires, and leaving a legacy that endures to the present.
The growth of cities fundamentally reorganizes economic, social, and political relationships, defines subjects, and reconfigures physical landscapes, although these effects vary in different cultural traditions and natural environments This chapter considers the social and physical environments of urban systems both within cities themselves, and in the rural hinterlands they create and modify. The reorganization of space and of human relationships in cities begins with their initial settlement and construction. Economies are transformed by the concentration of population in cities. Archaeological research points to a similar process in the emergence of Tiwanaku in the Andean high plateau, or altiplano. Spatially divided compounds and barrios provided residence for kin-based or otherwise intimately linked urban communities in Tiwanaku. Childe's notion of the Urban Revolution suggests that the construction of cities and the associated changes in political authority, economic organization, and identities was a rapid if not instantaneous change.
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