While urbanization is usually thought of as a modern phenomenon, its known to historians that the city unit is an ancient construct that continues to evolve and develop with the ages. However, today, its rarely viewed with a deeply retrospective lens. As Metrocosm‘s Max Galka points out: “urbanization didn’t begin in the 1960’s. But until recently, tracking its history much further back than that was a challenging task. The most comprehensive collection of urban population data available, U.N. World urbanization prospects, goes back only to 1950.”
However, with a recently released study, out of Yale University, Galka has been able to visualize the rise and fall (and sometimes, rise again) of the world’s cities in an animated video map. “Thanks to a report released last week by a team of Yale researchers, it’s now possible to analyze the history of cities over a much longer time frame. The researchers compiled the data by digitizing, geocoding, and standardizing information from past research published about historical urban populations. The result is a clean, accessible dataset of cities, their locations, and their populations over time, going as far back as 3700 B.C.,” he writes.