As the growth of cities worldwide transforms humans into an “urban species,” many scholars question the sustainability of modern urbanization. But in reality there aren't much data on long-term historical urbanization trends and patterns.
A recent Yale-led study offers new clarity on these historical trends, providing the first spatially explicit dataset of the location and size of urban settlements globally over the past 6,000 years.
By creating maps through digitizing, transcribing, and geocoding a deep trove of historical, archaeological, and census-based urban population data previously available only in tabular form, the authors make accessible information on urban centers from 3700 B.C. to A.D. 2000.
Reba, Meredith, Femke Reitsma, and Karen C. Seto. “Spatializing 6,000 years of global urbanization from 3700 BC to AD 2000.” Scientific Data 3:160034. 2016. DOI: 10.1038/sdata.2016.34