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Some early urban cities grew from the outside-in
Tell Brak. The mound is entirely artificial, the product of over
4,000 years of continuous human settlement.
Rising out of a field in northeastern Syria is an archaeological site that tells a slightly different story about the evolution of early urban centers from what researchers have previously believed. The city grew with an unusual “outside-in” growth pattern, according to a study in Science.
The surface of Tell Brak is covered with broken pottery and
other debris. Archaeologists use these surface artifacts to estimate the
size of the ancient city.
The site is called Tell Brak and it is a 40-meter-high, 1-kilometer-long archeological mound that dates to about 4200 to 3900 B.C.E. This is about the same time as cities were developing in southern Iraq, which is the area considered to be the seat of civilization called Mesopotamia.
Researchers search through what is like an ancient landfill to find pieces of ceramics, bones and other things that people leave behind. These things provide the history of Tell Brak.
Unlike most cities that develop from an inner core outward, Tell Brak appears to have been several small areas that were close together. As more people moved in, the population increased and people filled in the spaces and moved to the center of the city, research Jason A. Ur writes.
Because this research finding is different from other information, the authors suggest that it means two things. First, archaeologists should consider that there was more than one model of urban development in Mesopotamia. They also think that the people living at Tell Brak may not have been governed by a strong central authority.
This study appears in the 31 August issue of the journal Science.