Anomalocivitas: On urban evolutions

Urban Network Evolutions lecture by Professor MSO Søren Sindbæk

2017.02.01 | Ditte Kvist Johnson

Date Tue 21 Mar
Time 19:00 20:00
Location The Danish Institute at Athens (DIA), Herefondos 14, Athens, Greece


The archaeology of urbanism has developed with reference to particular emblematic examples: cities of the Bronze-age Near East, the Mediterranean of the classical period, and the Northern Europe high-medieval cities are key points of reference. Urbanism, in this light, has been regarded as nearly synonymous with social complexity and with civilisation. In recent years, a more globally oriented historical and archaeological research has exposed urbanity as a phenomenon that varies widely across time and space, sometimes in surprising ways. Like the palaeontological record abounds in creatures, which defy evolutionary hindsight – such as the famous Cambrian arthropod Anomalocaris, the past is full of extraordinary and surprising urban societies – ‘anomalocivitates’. With a point of departure in archaeological research history, this lecture asks how an increasing body of archaeological evidence can be used to inform more appropriate models. It outlines a vision of urbanism guided by the theory of complex systems: as a cultural attractor through which the practices and routines in different societal trajectories converge on homologous patterns.

This lecture, no. 1, is a part of a lecture series by Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (Urbnet), Aarhus University. UrbNet presents the lecture series Urban Network Evolutions at the Danish Institute in Athens in spring 2017, focusing on the development of urban networks and the way in which urban encounters catalysed societal and cultural changes. During a total of six lectures, the subject of urbanism will be elucidated with reference to different geographical contexts: The Middle East, Africa and Northern Europe – as well as different types of evidence/finds: ceramics, metal and water management. Finally, perspectives will be offered on a new approach to the topic: High-Definition Archaeology.

Programme for the lecture series.