Abstract. This working group will focus of identifying sources of settlement data from ancient and pre-modern societies that will permit comparative analysis of settlement characteristics, size, and measures of complexity centered around scaling analysis. The group will consist of a diverse set of social and natural scientists, archeologists and historians interested in the comparative analysis of urbanization across space and time utilizing standard and novel techniques. The group’s main interest lies in being able to perform quantitative comparative analysis of ancient and pre-modern cities, with the expectation that such data and results can contribute to both the development of comparatively relevant theory as well as identify challenges to existing models of urbanization (including, of course, the scaling framework).
This working group is a follow up from a successful first meeting in June 2014, and the formation of a SFI/ASU/U Colorado collaboration to compile, curate, organize and analyze this type of data throughout history. In tandem with the empirical work we will be developing new settlement theory that is appropriate to these archeological and historical contexts but that also compares and contrasts with scaling results for modern settlements. We anticipate three kinds of outcomes: (1) A number of participants will present new data from samples of pre-modern cities in various parts of the world; these data will be analyzed and synthesized to advance understanding of urban scaling throughout history. (2) We will also discuss the conceptual and theoretical aspects of pre-modern urban scaling, form a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary frameworks. (3) We will make plans for outside grants to fund s series of large scale data-gathering exercises, including the Roman Empire and the Classic Maya cities of Central America. We expect that a new empirical and theoretical synthesis will emerge from this work that will help us understand the formation and evolution of human (settled) societies throughout history.