Ancient Cities Grew and Developed Like Modern Cities, New Study Suggests
In studying the construction of ancient cities, like the one Hernán Cortés conquered for Spain in 1521, a team of researchers found several similarities with the modern day.
According to Live Science, Cortés wrote in a letter after taking the #Aztec capital city #Tenochtitlan that it resembled what he was used to in Spain. However, the Aztecs had no known European influence when they would have built their city.
The researchers’ work is published in the journal Science Advances.
“As the population of a community or settlement grows, the total production of that group grows even faster,” study lead author Scott Ortman, an assistant professor in CU-Boulder‘s Department of Anthropology, said in a press release. “Urban scaling theory makes the argument that the increase in productivity emerges from the increased rate of social interactions that occur. It’s cheaper for people to interact with each other because they are physically closer.”
The researchers examined sites of ancient cities, like Mexico‘s Mexico City before the nation’s population began expanding rapidly.
“Our results suggest that the general ingredients of productivity and population density in human societies run much deeper and have everything to do with the challenges and opportunities of organizing human social networks,” study co-author Luis Bettencourt, of the Santa Fe Institute, said in the release.
After estimating populations of ancient cities, the researchers determined that the cities more densely populated tended to be more productive.
“It was amazing and unbelievable,” Ortman said. “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.”