Form and meaning in the earliest cities: A new approach to ancient urban planning

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208 Scopus citations


This article describes a new model for urban planning in ancient and preindustrial cities that moves beyond the traditional simplistic dichotomy of planned versus organic cities. The model has two components: coordination of buildings and spaces, and standardization among cities. A variety of coordinated arrangements of buildings reflect urban planning, including simple coordination, formality and monumentality, orthogonal layouts, other forms of geometric order, and access and visibility (view-shed). Standardization among cities is analyzed in terms of architectural inventories, spatial patterns, orientation, and metrology. The political and social significance of ancient urban planning is then discussed using Amos Rapoport's model of levels of meaning in the built environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-47
Number of pages45
JournalJournal of Planning History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • ancient cities
  • archaeology
  • built environment
  • comparative urbanism
  • urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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