Chapter 4 Geographies of beginning creative interludes
Millennia of Moral Syndromes, World-Systems and City/State Relations
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The purpose of this chapter is to extend discussion of Western Asia’s great creative interlude in both space and time. Thus I deploy the ideas and interpretations from the two case studies of the previous chapter to new empirical contexts. The logic is straightforward: if my conceptual toolbox is generic, then my interpretations of Uruk and Çatalhöyük should be replicable in other times and places. The first two sections of the chapter deal with creative interludes in a range of times and places. First, I propose a global conjecture about ‘first cities’ as ‘first city networks’. This is a search for other examples of those large Neolithic (or otherwise early) settlements that orthodox thinking insists are merely ‘enormous villages’. I will interpret them as critical transitions from trading networks to city networks. I consider it unnecessary for this search to be exhaustive, since the great majority of large Neolithic settlements will likely never be discovered. Certainly outside semi-arid regions they are unlikely to survive recognizably through the long-term ravages of time and, in addition, many sites will have been subsequently built over making such early traces inaccessible. My aim is merely to show that the precocious city-dwellers of Western Asia are by no means unique among early peoples across the world. This is the final discussion that insists Jacobs’ contrarian city–agriculture thesis should be entertained as a credible patterning of these little known times and places.

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