Thursday, September 06, 2007

the news from 4200 BC

There were squatters in urban Syria 6,200 years ago, according to new archaeological evidence reviewed in this article from Scientific American. Contrary to the traditional myth of kings founding cities, "the northern Mesopotamian metropolis at Tell Brak shows a more haphazard, perhaps squatter-promoted, growth pattern," the article notes. The dig at Tell Brak suggests that squatters occupied the urban periphery, much as squatters do around major cities in the developing world today. Then, the squatter communities grew towards the city as the city grew out to meet them. "Kings were quick to take credit for founding cities," archaeologist Jason Ur of Harvard University tells SciAm. "We're taking royal inscriptions at their word, which could be a bad thing to do."

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