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    The Life and Death of Ancient Cities

    The Life and Death of Ancient Cities

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    When one imagines the ancient Mediterranean world, it is often a world of spectacular cities, whose monuments and institutions provided the model for the vast urban worlds we inhabit today. Recent research has emphasized some of the differences between our world and theirs. Today, more than half the world's population lives in huge cities with populations in the millions. Then, maybe only one in ten people lived in towns and they were small—really small—with populations of just a few thousand. Even by the standards of ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia the cities of the Greeks, Romans, Etruscan, and Phoenicians were tiny.

    Professor Greg Woolf talks about the implications and shows how evolutionary theory explains the rise of cities across the world in the last 6,000 years, and how ecology explains the very small scale of Mediterranean urbanism. He will illustrate how, despite their small size, these urban experiments proved so influential on the societies that came after Greece and Rome.