Walled Cities and the Development of Civilization in Asia Minor (Anatolia) and the Middle East

By Mahshid Mikaeili.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 30, 2015 $US5.00

The agricultural revolution in the Neolithic Age directly led to the development of settled communities, as humans were able to live in one place, tending their crops, no longer dependent on a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Over time, people who lived in small groups joined together to form large communities and, later, organized cities. The Fertile Crescent is often called the “cradle of civilization.” It was witness to the development of many of the earliest human civilizations, which flourished there due to the abundance of water and agricultural resources. These fertile lands were the source of villages and urban civilizations that developed in the Middle East, Asia Minor, and the Near East. There are a few essential bases for urban civilization: the production of storable food for non-agricultural citizens; the invention of writing for recording events and discoveries in mathematics and astronomy; the development of complex social organizations; and the evolution of technology. In any analysis of a city, one can consider at least two perspectives: an administrative and demographic perspective, and a socio-economic and cultural perspective. In an administrative and demographic analysis one places emphasis on the city’s population. However, the population will never be the key to understanding the identity of a city. Rather, the political and economic organization and culture of a city provides a fuller picture of its identity. Comparing existing archaeological sites reveals many commonalities among ancient cities, despite their geographical and cultural differences. A key component of these ancient cities was their defense wall, a global phenomenon that has been present at cities throughout history and in different locations and cultures. Walls, however, were not the only method cities used to create defined edges. Some cities used natural, geographic edges as defense measures, while other cities built their outermost houses in a circular pattern, with contiguous walls forming the edges. Today, as we begin to preserve ancient, walled cities, we must regard their urban edges as a key factor in managing their future. It is essential to determine defined classification criteria to help identify walled cities, as establishing these criteria will enrich comparative analyses of walled cities in future urban regeneration studies.

Keywords: Walled Cities, Historical City, Asia Minor (Anatolia)

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 5, Issue 2, March 2015, pp.15-25. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 30, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 762.559KB)).

Mahshid Mikaeili

PhD Candidate, Department of Landscape Architecture, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey