More than fifty percent of the human population now lives in cities. An understanding how we got there and the implications for human beings is essential. The material condition of present day cities and their social stability is problematic and the boundaries of urban space are poorly defined. Most modern urbanism is low density and dispersed. There is a common assumption that such a form of urbanism only results from industrialisation, leading to problematic assumptions about what might or should or could be done about it. However, Archaeology shows that low density urbanism has a long history in agrarian societies world-wide, particularly in the tropical forest regions of Central America and Southern Asia. Low density residence patterns are also characteristic of every socio-economic system over the past fifteen to twenty thousand years. The conventional concept of urban communities as compact and bounded must therefore be reappraised requiring a new comparative look at the development and operation of both compact and dispersed urbanism over long spans of time. Urbanism must also be placed in a larger context of human spatial behaviour and conventional categories such as "urban" need to be re-thought.


  • Imperial Capital Cities from Rome to Edo
  • Neither Villages nor Cities
  • Low Density Urbanism in Tropical Forest Environments
  • The moral significance of knowledge of the past – the low density case
  • Communication and power in early Chinese cities