UNST 220 Understanding Communities

Dr. Martha J. Bianco


Module I Lecture Guide

Part I


Polis, Metropolis, Megalopolis:

From Urban Specks to Global Cities


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I.     Introduction




II.    What is a City?


Image from 1926 film Metropolis, set in year 2000

Image from 1982 film Blade Runner (Tyrell Corporation), set in 2019

Image from 1995 television series Star Trek Deep Space 9 (Bajor, United Federation of Planets) set in 2370



III.   Cognitive Map



IV.   The Study of the City


A.      Urban studies

B.      Different paradigms for different disciplines




V.    Theories of Urbanization:  Where and When Was the First City?


Map of Ancient Civilizations



A.      The Childe Thesis


1.         V. Gordon Childe (1892-1957) was an Australian archaeologist who studied the rise of civilization.


a.         the agricultural revolution
b.         the urban revolution



mastery over nature   agriculture  surplus  development of city



2.         P






3.                  Cities of the Fertile Crescent


  Map of the Fertile Crescent


Factors Making Them Cities, According to Childe:


a.                   size & density
b.                   diversity & specialization
c.                   monuments & ruling class
d.                   trade
e.                   science & art
f.                     writing



Cuneiform process:  Writing on soft clay tablet with a reed pen

Progression from pictograph to cuneiform

Clay tablet with cuneiform

Sketched copy of same tablet

Click to see closeup of this tablet,
dating from 21st cen. BCE
40mm (h) x 42mm (w) x 14mm (th)

Translation by line:

  1. 3 acres barley, for harvest
  2. Field of the Ash Trees
  3. Dada, the swineherd
  4. Sealed by Lugal-emahe



B.      Other Early Cities


1.                  Jericho

2.                  Old Jericho

3.                  Çatal Hüyük / Çatalhöyük

4.                  Tell Hamoukar



Tell Lidar (photo)

Tell Megiddo (model)

Tell Megiddo (color reconstruction)


C.      Jane Jacobs' Trade / “New Obsidian” Theory


desire to carry on trade  city settlement  agriculture



D.      Lewis Mumford and the Sacred Meanings Thesis


desire to have fixed holy landmarks  city settlement  agriculture, trade, diversification, science etc.



Videos Pertaining to This Module     

Click to go to Part II

or go to:

Module I, Part III
Module I, Part IV
Lecture Guides Home Page
Class Syllabus



© Martha J. Bianco, Ph.D.