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Ancient vs. Modern Cities

Friday, February 20, 2015

Teotihucan-City-ScalesSANTA FE, NEW MEXICO—Researchers from the Santa Fe Institute and the University of Colorado Boulder have revealed the results of a study designed to understand whether ancient settlements and modern cities functioned in similar or different ways. By examining pre-contact archaeological data from sites in the Basin of Mexico to estimate populations, densities, size and construction rates of monuments and buildings, and the intensity of site use, the researchers learned that, in fact, ancient settlements and modern cities functioned in much the same way. “It was shocking and unbelievable,” says anthropologist and study author Scott Ortman. “We were 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.” To read more about Mexico City’s buried history, go to “Under Mexico City.”

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