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date: 13 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Historical ecological approaches to settlement aggregation and complexity reject modernist and post-modernist reliance on linear neo-evolutionary categorization of cities in relation to earlier farming communities. Instead, urban centres and multi-urban systems are viewed as components of complex heterarchically and hierarchically organized landscapes. Resilience theory has been applied in several archaeological efforts to characterize urban development of specific centres. Building on experience from the recently concluded Urban Mind project this chapter argues for a historical ecology approach to track the long-term cultural and environmental dynamics of multi-centred urban systems. Linking human cognition, social memory, ecosystem services, urban metabolism and food security, and institutions of urban governance, it uses data on long-term urban histories in the eastern Mediterranean, southern Africa, and Mesoamerica to identify implications for future urban planning initiatives.

Keywords: archaeology, historical ecology, urbanism, food security, climate change, landscape, complexity, human–environmental interactions

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