Thursday November 10th, 5.30pm
Architectural Association, 33 First Floor Back
Perhaps the most influential essay ever written by an archaeologist is V. Gordon Childe’s ‘The Urban Revolution’, published in a 1950 edition of Town Planning Review. Childe linked the origins of urban life directly to the rise of autocratic government in the Middle East, some six thousand years ago. But subsequent research in Ukraine identifies striking examples of egalitarian cities, as old as – and in some cases larger than – those of ancient Mesopotamia. Twentieth century geo-politics ensured that these so-called “mega-sites” of Eastern Europe remained unfamiliar to western audiences. This is no longer the case, and my presentation will discuss some of their implications for the relationship between urban structure and political form in the remote past, but also with an eye to future possibilities.
David Wengrow is professor of comparative archaeology at University College London. His books include The Archaeology of Early Egypt and What Makes Civilization?