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This introduction presents a brief history of the study of early cities, archaeological research on the nature of ancient cities. It also provides an overview of key concepts covered in the subsequent chapter of this book. The book delineates some distinctive features of ancient cities and then compares these features. It first concerns early cities as arenas of performance, which includes studies of Egyptian, Maya, and Southeast Asian cities. Next, the book analyzes early cities and information technologies. Then, early urban landscapes are explained. The book also considers cities in the Harappan tradition and their successors in South Asia, and explains the rise and fall of Cahokia. Finally, the book focuses on Rome in the early centuries CE, the capital cities of imperial Assyria in the early to middle centuries BCE, and Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, in the fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries CE.
Jerusalem, in stone and imagination, is unique as a holy city of the world's three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The most relevant primary texts describing the physical features of Jerusalem's cities include the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, Roman and Late Antique Jewish sources and Christian writings. Jerusalem dramatically changed during the eighth century BCE, coinciding with abundant archaeological and textual evidence testifying to its significance as a major cultic and urban center with a large residential population, perhaps for the first time in the city's history. More recently, salvage excavations have uncovered additional impressive remains dating to the late Second Temple period. Herod's monumental buildings have left their imprint on Jerusalem's landscape and topography; remnants are still visible today. First and foremost Byzantine Jerusalem was a city of pilgrimage, whose main function was devoted to the cult of holy places.
From the fourth millennium BCE to the early second millennium CE the world became a world of cities. This volume explores this critical transformation, from the appearance of the earliest cities in Mesopotamia and Egypt to the rise of cities in Asia and the Mediterranean world, Africa, and the Americas. Through case studies and comparative accounts of key cities across the world, leading scholars chart the ways in which these cities grew as nodal points of pilgrimages and ceremonies, exchange, storage and redistribution, and centres for defence and warfare. They show how in these cities, along with their associated and restructured countrysides, new rituals and ceremonies connected leaders with citizens and the gods, new identities as citizens were created, and new forms of power and sovereignty emerged. They also examine how this unprecedented concentration of people led to disease, violence, slavery and subjugations of unprecedented kinds and scales.