Researchers from the Santa Fe Institute and the University of Colorado Boulder have revealed that a common pattern of development and similar characteristics can be observed in ancient as well as modern cities. Large populations and dense areas are the features of modern cities, which were also exhibited by ancient cities. As per the new study, the inhabitants of ancient cities having bigger and denser settlements were more efficient. The study has been detailed in the journal PLOS ONE.
Data obtained from the surveys of ancient settlements, houses and temples of pre-Hispanic Basin of Mexico were analyzed by Scott Ortman from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder and colleagues. The structural dimensions were also examined to estimate household productivity, the speed of monuments construction and population and densities of ancient settlements.
The analysis revealed that ancient settlements which were more populous were also more productive. The rate of increase in productivity was also found to be similar to modern cities. Ortman said “It was amazing and unbelievable. We’ve been raised on a steady diet telling us that, thanks to capitalism, industrialization, and democracy, the modern world is radically different from worlds of the past. What we found here is that the fundamental drivers of robust socioeconomic patterns in modern cities precede all that.”
The new study says that with the population growth in ancient cities, the rate of production of monuments also increased. With the increase in the size of settlements, the surface areas of houses also became larger. According to Ortman and colleagues, most of the patterns which can be observed in modern urban system have been derived from the processes which have been a part of human societies since long. The set of rules called urban scaling which develops as modern cities grow are also applicable to ancient cities.
The researchers stated “Our results suggest the fundamental processes behind the emergence of scaling in modern cities have structured human settlement organization throughout human history, and that contemporary urban systems are best-conceived as lying on a continuum with the smaller-scale settlement systems known from historical and archaeological research.”