Personal tools
You are here: Home Project news and content updates Pleiades Project Blog Geographies of the Ancient City: Lessons to Learn from Diachronic Comparisons

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Geographies of the Ancient City: Lessons to Learn from Diachronic Comparisons

Creators: Tom Elliott Copyright © The Contributors. Sharing and remixing permitted under terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (cc-by).
Last modified Aug 07, 2014 06:31 PM
A second call for papers has just been issued for this session at the Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society (London, August 2014). Deadline for 300-word proposals is February 3, 2014.

From the online call for papers, a description of the session:

Cities have a diverse history that stretches several millennia. Faced with the challenges of a rapidly urbanising world, urban geography traditionally emphasises the present and future of cities. Historical geography, on the other hand, is criticised for not usually penetrating into the past beyond a couple of centuries (Jones 2004; Lilley 2011), limiting the geographical perspectives and comparisons produced. It therefore is the realm of (ancient) historians and archaeologists to fill the gap left by geographers in the study of cities (Smith 2009). The ancient city has recently been a burgeoning area of research, especially through advances in archaeological data acquisition revealing an increasing diversity of precursory urban patterns (Smith 2003; Atkin & Rykwert 2005; Storey 2006; Marcus & Sabloff 2008; Gates 2011). Contemporary geographical and social perspectives and techniques are regularly utilised to elucidate the urban life and structures of the past (e.g. Lilley et al. 2007; York et al. 2011; Stanley et al. 2012; Vis 2014). However, rarely is research on deeply historical human processes and ‘alternative’ urban traditions brought in direct relation to current global urban issues. Only through the lens of the past can long-term societal processes — the successes and failures of different kinds of urban form, urban life, and sustainability — be better understood and can an evidence-base be built for the planning and interventions, which facilitate social prospering, adaptation, and endurance in urban settings.

It would be of mutual benefit to facilitate an informed dialogue between the historical sciences and present-day urbanists, which could identify the common grounds and formulate appropriate frames of reference and methods for comparisons (e.g. Nijman 2007; Smith 2012). Rigorous comparisons can explicate processes and their determinants as well as revealing the specific regularities and differences between them. Therefore, this session aims to open a direct debate between urban geographers thinking their views and methods offer important cues to the deeper history of cities and the historical geographers thinking their urban research holds relevant lessons for current urbanisation and urban life. These fields of interest will be broadly defined in the context of the ‘comparative social science history’ of cities and contributions from cognate disciplines are warmly welcomed.

For more information, please see the online call for papers or contact the session organizer, Benjamin Vis, at the University of Leeds (


Neither Pleiades, nor its institutional hosts and sponsors, are involved in the organization of this conference or panel.