Structural change and bifurcation in urban evolution: A non-linear dynamical perspective

Sander E. Van Der Leeuw, James McGlade

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


The emergence of what we refer to as civilization is synonymous with the rise of urban centres, and the study of these, along with writing, markets and craft specialization has conventionally been regarded by archaeologists as a key element in the evolution of ‘complex societies’ (cf. Childe 1956). Yet there seems to be no commonly accepted explanation why, at some point in their history, people in such vastly different areas and with such very different cultures and subsistence economies ‘chose’ to settle in spatial configurations which are so strikingly similar. Similar not only because people are living in densely built-up ‘special-purpose’ areas, but also because the way in which these areas are spread over the landscape is highly regular, and usually conforms to one of five or six known patterns - even allowing for distortions due to accidents of physical geography and other social and historical phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTime, Process and Structured Transformation in Archaeology
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages41
ISBN (Electronic)9781134524952
ISBN (Print)0415117887, 9780415589093
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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